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Show Preparation

Let’s not forget the impact of heredity on steadiness in a show cage. Steady parents tend to breed steady chicks that naturally show well. Flighty parents that will not perch and throw a fit in a show cage tend to produce youngsters that behave in a similar way.

Training begins in the nestbox. The more you handle youngsters the calmer they become and this becomes very evident in the showcage.

When chicks leave the nest I introduce them to the showcage even before they are completely weaned, and use a think judging stick to help them to the perch. I find this helps them later on to accept a judging stick as a natural accessory in the show cage and eliminates the possibility of a frenzy when the judge uses one.

When they are feeding themselves the chicks are transferred to small flight cages, 48”x24”x24”, with others of similar age and a couple of older docile cocks to lead them to food, water etc. They are fed the normal seed & greens/veges during this period and are loaded up with protein from as many sources as possible.

During this time they are still caught and handled frequently to keep them calm and comfortable, and spend short periods in a show cage while I am feeding or cleaning the birdroom. Around the time they start their first moult the time in a showcage increases. Some will be placed in a showcage after they eat in the morning. I live a 5-6 minute drive from the company where I work so I can come at lunch and move another group to the showcages for 3-4 hours in the afternoon.

I do like to have some in the showcage when I am sweeping or vacuuming so they are not unsettled by sudden noise or clattering they will also experience at shows.

After the first moult they go into a flight to develop and muscle up.

Approximately 8 weeks before the first show the better birds are transferred back to the small flights and checked for broken or damaged feathers that need to be removed so they can regrow by show day. These birds are reintroduced to the show cage and judging stick and each spends 2-3 hours at a time getting reaccustomed to the smaller space.

Show Preparation

It always helps when you have someone experienced in charge of show preparation and spraying the birds.

A month before show day the spraying starts 3-4 mornings a week. Heavy drenching to start. I use a mix of water with a little Listerine and Witch Hazel added.. This will encourage natural preening so the birds eventually coat feathers with natural oils. As this happens you will notice when you spray that the water will tend to bead up and roll off rather than soak deep into the feathers. Spray a little less each day so that a week before the show they are basically getting a misting rather than a bath. I stop spraying the Tuesday before a show.

Also a month out check that any feathers you pulled are regrowing naturally.

A couple of weeks out I start cycling the birds through the show cages for longer hours… approx 6-8 hours at a time, a couple of times a week, making sure a judging stick is used every time I am in the room so they know when to show and move from one perch to the other.

This is also the time I start using the toothbrush with a little dishwashing liquid to clean up any areas in the cap or mask that are soiled.

Then 4-5 days out I start despotting the birds. This is done in 2 or 3 sessions so there is no rush that results in wrong spots being removed. I leave large shadow spots under the main spots until the night before the show…. Just as insurance in case a main spot drops at the last minute.

Templates in Time

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