Getting Chickens ready for Chicken Shows

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Getting Chickens ready for Chicken ShowsWhen I first heard of Chicken Shows I thought, WHAT! A chicken Show?  I had never heard of a chicken show. When I was raised the only show a chicken put on was when it was chasing a bee, wasp, grasshopper, butterfly, etc!  It was also a show when my granny wrung ones neck but that is another story in itself.

Bathing a Chicken was just not a concept to me as I grew up! The only bathing I ever saw a chicken get was when one was wallowing in the dust or dirt!

Photo by: Normanack

First before you get ready for Chicken Shows you need to look at your birds to see if they meet the correct standards for that breed. Most hatchery birds do not fit the standards and will not show well because in hatcheries they are primarily bred for their egg laying abilities and not so much on how they look.

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You can buy show quality birds from breeders that have quality parent stock.

If you are looking for birds of show quality make sure you do your research before buying and if you can look at the parent stock the breeder is using. Most of the time the parents quality will indicate what their offspring will look like.

Now if you have determined that you have show quality birds and you want to take them to Chicken Shows your next step will be to examine the health of your bird. If your chickens have an illness or parasites the poultry judges will see that they are not healthy birds and will mark off points your score.

Ways to tell if your chickens are healthy is to look at their comb and wattles.  If they are pale and dull then they may not be at their full health. If they are bright red and shiny and are free of bumps and scabs then they are most likely as healthy as can be.

Combs and wattles may also be need to be moisturized either with oils such as vegetable oils or olive oils or even a thin layer of vaseline will keep them moisturized and healthy looking.

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Now if you know you have healthy birds it is time to give them baths!

Yes! That’s right you need to give chickens a bath!

If you know anything about chickens you will surely know that they love to get dust baths and even though they feel clean after dust baths you will be amazed at how much dirt and dust their feathers trap. The dust will make their feathers look dull and sometimes discolored.

Things you will need for the washing process are:

  • Thee medium storage totes or three 5 gallon buckets (depending on the size of the chicken)
  • Mild dish soap or soap made for dogs (you can use whitening or blackening soaps)
  • Vinegar
  • an old tooth brush
  • nail clippers and or nail filers
  • wash cloth or clean rag

Before you begin washing your birds, be sure it is a nice sunny warm day. If the chickens are outside in the cold and wet they may get sick.

You will next want to fill up all three totes about halfway with warm water.

Then add mild soap to one tub of water, try not to make it too bubbly. Then gently place your bird in the tub of soapy water just be sure not to get their head in the water.

At this point depending on your birds personality they may panic and splash in the water if that is the case pick them up out of the water for a few seconds and calm them down and again gently place them in the water. Most birds are calm in the water and actually enjoy the warm water. When I see that the birds are calm I will then grab my clean rag and begin washing them just as you would yourself.

Just be sure when using a rag to go the direction of the feathers if you don’t you could risk breaking their feathers and broken feathers will take points off of your score at the show.

I also swish the birds around in the water just to be sure all of the feathers get cleaned, and don’t forget about under the wings!

When you feel that their feathers are clean enough it is time to clean their legs, feet, comb, wattles, face and beak!

For this part I take them out of the first tub and wrap them in a towel with their feet and legs poking out one end and their head out of the other end. This is where the toothbrush comes into play. I take the toothbrush and dip it into the soapy water and brush their feet and legs with it, make sure under all of the scales are clean as can be.

While you are working on the feet you can see if the nails need to be trimmed, if so you can carefully clip them with nail clippers or gently file them into the proper shape and length.

Then you can take a rag and again dip it into the soapy water and ring it out. Then gently clean the face, comb, wattles and beak.

The second tub of water should have 1/2 – 3/4 c. of vinegar in it. This will get rid of any soap left on the bird. All you have to do in this tub is just gently swish the bird around a few times, again avoiding getting the head under water.

The third tub should just be clean water to rinse your bird, again just swish them around a few times to be sure they are completely rinsed.

Once rinsed thoroughly get a clean towel and wrap them up leaving just their head uncovered. Leave them in the towel for 10-15 min. While they are in the towel they will not move because they feel secure and that will give you enough time to get another chicken washed and ready to towel dry too.

You will want to wash your chickens 2-3 days before the Chicken Show, this will give their oils enough time to make their fathers shiny again and they also will still be clean.

Now you have washed you chicken in preparation for the show but the prepping doesn’t end here. You will need to take some things to the shows with you too that way you can do some last minute touch-ups to really impress the judges!

The most important thing will be a bit of food and water, now you don’t want them to eat and drink too much because as you may know a crop full of food and water will miss shape a bird and the judge may not be able to see the actual shape of the bird and may disqualify or take off points on your score. (Points are very important at Chicken Shows)

Another great thing to bring with you would be some oil. You can apply a thin layer to the comb, wattles, feet and legs to moisturize them. You can also bring a silk cloth to rub the chickens down with and this will make their feathers shine.

At the end of the day Chicken Shows are fun and should be fun even if your birds do not win you can walk around see other birds and talk to and get to know other poultry owners and breeders and you can talk to the judges and ask what needs to be improved on your birds and the next year bring back the improved birds and just keep bringing improved birds back every year and you will win in no time!

Do you show chickens? Have you ever been to a chicken show? Leave your comment below.

This article was written by our friends over at Lots ‘A’ Cluckin’ Farms

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