BASIC SHOW PREPARATION - By Jerrod Oliver
Firstly, it is very important to handle your birds. Pick them up and handle them as often as possible. This will stop them being so stressed on show day as your birds will need to be handled by the judges.
It is also a good idea to get them accustomed to being in a confined space. A training pen or pet travel cage is ideal for this. Leave them in there for a day or two and feed them yummy treats and water.
It is a good idea to prepare your birds the afternoon or night before show day, as birds usually need to be penned up at least an hour before the judging starts.
I start by cleaning the legs and feet. I use a bucket of warm water, a fine toothbrush, a nail brush and a wooden toothpick. I dampen down the legs and give them a rub with liquid hand cleaner, there are many good products on the market which are fine! Remove excess dirt and let the soap soak into the scales. Use the toothbrush and rub it onto a bar of soap - I use good old fashioned Solvol soap. Work the toothbrush right around and try to get in under the scales as best you can. Wash right up to the top of the elbow, right down to the toes and make sure you scrub under their toenails! If there is still dirt under the scales, use the toothpick to get under each scale and work the dirt out from underneath. Give them a good rinse and wipe dry.
If my birds are really muddy, I like to give them a good wash! Start with a bucket of clean, lukewarm water. Use a shampoo, there are many effective products to choose from: dog shampoo, horse shampoo or mild baby shampoo! Using a sponge, dampen the feathers and give them a good wipe underneath the body, on the front of the chest and the fluff around the vent! Once you have removed all the mud, use a clean bucket of warm water to rinse off the entire shampoo residue.
Using a hair dryer, go to work and thoroughly dry all of the feathers. Once the bird is dry, give the face, comb and wattles a good wipe with a damp face washer. When dry, you can apply the dressing. I like to use a natural product such as olive oil, but baby oil is fine also. Place a little of the oil onto a small sponge and wipe it over the comb and wattles, try not to get any in the eyes.
Your work is done for the night! Place the bird into a clean pen for the night to settle down.
The morning of the show, check the feet and clean again if necessary. Use a soft cloth dampened with a little methylated spirits, wipe over the surface of the feathers, this will collect any surface dust or dirt.
Place your bird into a clean travel box with plenty of clean shaving, arrive at the show a little early to attend to any minor adjustments that need to be made after traveling.
Check the feet again and wipe off any mess using a damp cloth. Apply a light coating of leg dressing, olive oil or Vaseline works fine. Flay out the wings and feathers and put back into place any flight or tail feathers that may be out of place. Give the feathers a good wipe over with a silk cloth. Place you bird carefully into the show pen and give it a little treat to settle it down - a few pieces of bread or a small handful of seeds and a drink of water.
Now you can stand back and admire your lovely bird and all the great work you have done!