We try to attend at least a few poultry shows a year, and to bring birds as often as we can. Because each bird we produce is precious to our breeding program we often can’t spare them to take them to shows, but we put in an honest effort.
Getting Your Dominiques Ready For Show
All the work of a poultry show is started weeks, months ahead of time. Move any potential show birds into cages where there is little/no risk of damaged feathers. This means no rough wire edges, really rough wood, or overcrowding. You want ample space if you are going to put multiple birds in a cage. We usually move our show birds to a “chicken tractor” a 4×8 miniature coop with painted wood and field fencing (welded) sides and a dirt/shavings floor. Dominiques will try to forage and dust bathe on barbed wire, so better to give them some dirt and just rinse it out later. Make sure the birds have plenty of roost space so no one is sitting in feces.
8+ weeks before the show, pull out any broken feathers or those that look like they are getting ready to go (dry, brittle). Add a little extra protein and fats to the bird’s diet, maybe feeder insects or some folks use cat food. We also add some more whole grains – wheat, oats and some BOSS. Trim nails, oil legs and comb/wattles/face. I like oiling with pure VitE oil (for humans – for skin care). It helps heal any blemishes in the comb and wattles, and soaks into the skin naturally and doesn’t stay on top like vegetable and other oils do. Of course treat for parasites – the last thing you want is a bunch of eaten up feathers and a stressed out bird.
If this is pre-conditioning is done properly, all you should need to do about 4-5 days before judging is give your bird a warm bath, preferrably with a mild soap and a vinegar rinse followed by a water rinse. Let them air dry in a warm room after patting dry with a towel. Oil legs and comb/wattles/face again, double check toenails and beak to make sure everything is trimmed and beautiful. Now they should be kept on a solid floor if you can so they aren’t getting tons of dust in those sparkly clean feathers before judging day. Now is a good time to
When you get to the show, double check anything that might use another last minute oiling – like the comb and wattles to make sure they’re shiny and bright. The morning of the judging you can put a little bit of mint oil around their nasal cavities to brighten up comb/wattles even a little more (or Vicks vapor rub works good). We also spritz each bird with a light misting of an avacado spray that is actually meant for horses. It doesn’t do much for the birds, but the feathers feel a bit smoother in your hand and it just adds that extra blush to a beautiful hen. Then it’s as simple as putting your bird in her cage, feeding and watering, and closing the door! We take some feeder blaptica dubias with us to each show and feed the birds through the wire – they will be begging for treats from everyone all weekend, and that always looks better than a bird cowering in the back of the cage or one that is very uninterested in people.
Our Dominiques show best when slightly alert, so it’s really not a problem if they aren’t superbly cage trained. As long as they are not flighty and are used to human close proximity and handling, they should do fine in the cage. I have had some pullets pace the cage but after a few roaches they are all sweet. A bird that startles when a person tries to hold it shouldn’t be brought to the show, as this just makes the judge’s job harder and stresses the bird. Work with these birds in the weeks before the show and most will calm down out of it and start to enjoy wattle rubs.Will add photos to this page soon!