What to have in your poultry show box
It’s the day before you leave for the poultry show and your birds have all had their baths, toenails clipped, and general primping taken care of. Now it is time to organize your show box and pack everything you will need to present your birds in tip-top condition at the poultry show.
Get them there, keep them happy
You will need some kind of carriers to transport your birds to the show. I find a cat carrier works very well. Remember to line it with some kind of bedding. Try to have only one bird per carrier if possible. You do not want extra poo rubbing on to your bird’s nice clean feathers.
At most shows you will be bringing your own feeders and waterers. Since I have silkies, I use a pop bottle waterer. Pack enough waterers and empty pop bottles for each bird as well as mini bungee cords to secure them. I also like to place an empty cat food can under the waterer to prop it up.
Bring a jug of your own water and add electrolytes to it as birds can often become stressed at a show. The electrolytes will help boost their immune system. Get them used to this water a week ahead of time. Birds can be finicky about changes in water and food so you want to make sure that they are used to both.
If you have been cage training your chicken they should be used to using the feeders and waterers in the small cages. Bring a bag of feed for your birds. Bird seed with sunflower seeds and nuts is nice because it keeps the poo more solid than regular feed, making it easier to remove from the cage and from the bird.
Withhold food on the morning of the judging. A bird with a full crop can create a lump in their chest and will not have a nice shape for the judges. You may also want to briefly withhold water so as not to have a silkie with a wet beard.
Bring your own bedding shavings and constantly be on the look out for poo on the shavings and remove it before the bird can step or sit in it. Some people will have booties on their birds until judging starts.
A day in the beauty spa
On the day of the show you will see a lot of people frantically working on their birds before the judging starts. You can put VetRx poultry remedy (or another type of oil) on their combs, earlobes, beaks, wattles, and legs. This makes the surface more shiny and brings out their colors.
VetRx is especially good because it helps the bird fight off diseases that they might come in contact with at the show.
Feathers are oily and dust will stick to them. Shine up a bird using a piece of silk cloth and running it over the feathers. A microfiber cloth works well for this, too, and makes your bird shine.
To finish a bird off, I will use Show Sheen. Spray it lightly or spray a cloth and run it onto the feathers, then blow dry to puff out those silkie feathers. A slicker brush or a fine-tooth comb can really fluff it up and back tease it.
I use Gempler’s Citra Clean Waterless Hand Cleaner or Cowboy Magic Greenspot Remover for last minute touch-ups. Baby wipes and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser also help remove dirt.
I also bring paper towels, baby wipes, a small spray bottle with water to loosen up dirt, tooth brush, hand sanitizer, a portable chair, extra carriers in case you buy a bird or two, health forms for pullorum testing, and cage ID numbers if the show sent you that information.
As judging begins
Remember to not leave all of this stuff out. The judge should not see anything of yours. Pack it up and take it out of the judging area.
It is considered bad form to enhance your cages or to distinguish your birds from other people’s birds.
Don’t write your name anywhere. Do not put up barriers between your birds and the birds next to you. Judges need to be able to look down the aisle at all of the birds to compare them.
A few other things for your show box: Scotch tape, nail file, scissors, pen, and flea and tick spray—use it as they leave the show in case they picked up anything.
Some people bring zip ties or small locks to lock up their birds when they aren’t around. Just remember to remove the zip ties before judging starts—if judges can’t get into your cage, they can’t judge your bird.
One last thing I like to bring is a book on poultry breeds. I enjoy finding actual examples of breeds I am reading about. It is fun to learn about breeds different than your own. It is also a lot of fun to meet other breeders and get tips from them about your favorite breed.
Poultry shows are a great place to just talk chicken!
About the author
Victoria J. Peterson’s VJP Poultry is an NPIP- and state-inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul, Minn. Like her Facebook page for weekly updates on chick availability and check out Victoria’s Chicken Learning Center at VJPPoultry.com.