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 Showbox and pack everything that you will need in order to keep your bird in tip top condition at the poultry show.
You will need some kind of carriers to transport your birds to the show. 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 birds 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. You will need to 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. Add electrolytes to it as birds can often become stressed at a show. The electrolytes will help to boost their immune system. Get them used to this water a week ahead of time. Birds can be finicky about change 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. It makes it easier to remove it from the cage and from the bird.
Remember to withhold food on the morning of the judging. A bird with a full crop will create a lump in their chest and will not have a nice shape for the judges. You may also want to withhold water so as not to have a silkie with a wet beard.
You will need to bring your own bedding shavings. 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 the judging starts.
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 Vet Rx or another type of oil on their combs, earlobes, beaks, wattles and legs. This makes the surface more shiny and brings out their colors. Apply a thin coat. Vet Rx is especially good because it helps the bird fight off diseases that they might come in contact with at the show.
You can also shine up a bird using a piece of silk cloth and running it over the feathers. A micro fiber cloth works well for this too. Feathers are oily and dust will stick to them. This helps to remove the dust and make your bird shine.
To finish a bird off, I will use Show Sheen. Spray it lightly on or spray a cloth and run it onto the feathers. Then blow dry and puff out those silkie feathers. You can use a slicker brush or a fine tooth comb to really fluff it up and back tease it.
If you see that dirt or manure has gotten on any feathers, you can use Gempler’s Citra Clean hand cleaner or Cowboy Magic Greenspot Remover for those last minute touch ups. Baby wipes and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser as also good tools for spot removing dirt.
I also bring paper towels, baby wipes, small spray bottle with water to loosen up dirt, tooth brush, hand sanitizer, portable chair, extra carriers in case you buy a bird or two, health forms for pullorum testing, cage ID numbers if the show sent you that information.
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 the cages your birds are in or to distinguish your birds from other people’s birds. Don’t write your name anywhere such as on your cage cups. Do not put up barriers between your birds and the birds next to you. The judges need to be able to look down the aisle at all of the birds to compare them.
Dress for the show. Be sure to wear clothing that is washable and comfortable. Dress in layers as temperatures can change. Do not wear shoes that you wear when tending your flock. You do not want to bring home disease to the rest of your birds.
A few other things for your showbox would be, scotch tape, nail file, scissors, pen and don’t forget the Flea and Tick spray. You will want to spray your birds as they leave the show and go back into their carriers in case they picked up a bug
Some people will bring zip ties or small locks to lock up their birds when they aren’t around. No one should be touching or handling any one else’s birds. Just remember to have the zip ties off before judging starts. If the judge 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. It is a great place to just talk chicken!