FREE Poultry Showmanship Clinic
July 8th 2017
For many parts of Colorado, and even around the country, a 4-H fair and a Sanctioned poultry show differ in many ways.
Many juniors raising chickens for 4-H and want to expand into the wide world of exhibition poultry shows are discouraged when they bring their birds raised for 4-H to these Sanctioned shows, only to have them many times, disqualified from the show. It is not the fault of the Junior, or even the parents, or the people running the shows themselves. It is just a general lack of knowledge of the difference of the shows themselves, being based on very different aspects of the bird.
A 4-H show, to many other varieties of livestock, are specifically for raising a animal to raise for production or meat purposes. These animals are not kept afterwards, and while they may be considered pets for a short time, the animals generally go on to be sold for meat purposes. A chicken at these shows are usually judged as to how close they are to lay, and their overall body condition (in the case of a laying breed such as a Rhode Island Red, or a White Leghorn.) or body weight, as is the case with a Cornish Cross, which is a white bird bred for meat purposes which has a rapid weight gain in the least amount of time The overall condition and weight of the bird is the top priority, not the look of the bird. Sure, some shows or fairs have a class that is more for looks, but the norm is the production aspect of the show.
While juniors usually get their birds from a hatchery, many breeds to choose from, most of the time the kids have a nice experience showing birds at the 4-H and want to bring their favorites to a big poultry show. Its these kids who bring their Barred Rock, or "Araucana" to a big show find out that their hatchery bred bird is very different in appearance than the "exhibition poultry" they may see there.
I find that many juniors do not know many of the things that us exhibition showers consider normal, such as a simple process as bathing a bird before show, or making sure that the bird is free of lice or mites.
Juniors or even adults wanting to venture into the world of Exhibition Poultry should find out which breed they like, and go to large Sanctioned Shows in their area before starting out and talking to the Exhibitors/Breeders of the breed they like. Many breeders are willing to talk about the breed that they love and offer helpful tips to people starting out, especially kids.
If you are interested in venturing into Exhibition Shows, look up websites such as the American Poultry Association or the American Bantam Association. You can generally find shows anywhere in the US to attend at any time of year. The Exhibition bird, whatever breed, has set guidelines or qualifications that have to be met, as outlined in the two poultry "bibles" the American Standard of Perfection or the Bantam Standard of Perfection. These qualifications are very much like qualifications for dogs at dog shows. Size, Shape, Color and Weight are all important things for each breed or variety. Even something that would be unimportant to a 4-H show such as eye color on a bird, is very important to a Exhibition Show.
One of the largest breeds it seems that is often shown in Exhibition shows by juniors not knowing the difference in the types of shows are labeled as "Araucanas" by Hatcheries. What is sold as "Araucanas" or "Americanas" are nothing more than a mixed breed chicken. They are not a pure breed, and are not intended for show purposes. They are known as a "easter egg chicken", because they lay colored eggs. These birds come in every color imaginable. A TRUE Araucana, is a bird that is only in certain color "varieties" and must have a pea comb, tufts of feathers coming from the sides of the face, and are tail-less birds. A TRUE Ameraucana, a very different breed, come again, only in certain color "varieties" also have a pea comb, (a pea comb looks very much like a pea pod that is open to show a row of "peas" in the center) but has muffs (feathers growing from the sides of the face) and a beard (feathers that grow under the face covering the birds wattles). The Ameraucana also has a tail. Both TRUE breeds lay colored eggs that vary in shades of Blue. Most all of the Araucanas and Ameraucanas have dark slate grey legs.
You will know you have a hatchery bred Easter Egger, if your bird has no beard, muffs, or tufts, has any kind of comb other than a pea comb, or has GREEN colored legs. If your bird lays an olive colored, white or brown egg, you do not have a TRUE bred bird.
Hopefully this will be of some help to new poultry folks out there.
Our club is new and improved and reaching the 21st Century! We are focusing on the Juniors of our hobby more and more and encourage their ideas and desires when it comes to showing birds. We are working closely with the Colorado Showmanship Team, who travels around to many states (Not just Colorado) teaching juniors about showmanship and birds!
We are also encouraging new members to join us who have a new interest in raising chickens just as a fun hobby, or if you are just wanting a few hens for egg laying. Many of our members show, but not all, and for new members who are raising egg layers, getting to know the show people or others who have been raising birds for years can help you learn more about poultry keeping in general. Eric Fulenwider will be the head of our Advertising and Educational aspects of the club. Please contact him if you are interested in having his speak at various different places to teach your area on chickens keeping in cities and suburbs.
Our club is always open to new ideas to make us a fun and interesting group and welcome anything you might have to say. We especially want to have members who excel in different areas to contribute their skills in some way to making the CPA a better group for everyone. Are you good at fundraising? Good at organizing a meeting? Excel at website designs? We would like you to be a part of the family! Share your ideas with us.
We have a paypal account setup for donations and memberships. Donating money to our cause will assist us in being able to provide nicer awards, better judges, a bigger show, and more activities towards our future plans. If you would like to donate money to us, but would like the money to go to a specific area, please e-mail or call us and let us know how we can assist you.
Our Paypal address is [email protected] . See our how to join page for dues and donation buttons.
Here are some important website links to various clubs and organizations in the country that we support:
Here is one veterinarian that is an avian specialist and can treat chickens:Aspenwing Animal Hospital - Dr. Chappelle
If you are starting with baby chicks for the first time, you will need to set up a brooder prior to receiving your babies. This can be anything from a handmade wooden box a few feet high, to a large cardboard box, or even Rubbermaid totes that you can get at Wal-mart or other stores. They will need a good heat source and depending what time of year you are getting your chicks will determine what source of heat you will need. A 120 or 240watt heat bulb is what most feed stores will recommend for you to start with. You can get either red or clear, the red is better if you have chicks that might want to pick on each other and get each other bleeding. However, if you are getting chicks when it is fairly warm out, you may even start brooding them with a regular light bulb such as a 100 watt or even a 75watt.
Do not use the new energy saver light bulbs, while they do put out light, it’s the warmth that the chicks need and the energy savers do not produce enough heat for chicks. Also, the brooder lamp should not have a plastic base, as depending on the wattage of your light, the plastic based ones (usually found at Wal-mart and have a push button to shut the light on and off) could melt and start a fire. Be sure to find a brooder lamp with a ceramic socket instead. Anytime you are using a brooder lamp, be sure to attach it securely to something so that it cannot fall into the litter and catch it on fire. For a plastic tote brooder, you can cut the center part out of the lid, and cover with a wire mesh (attached to the remaining lid section) and then secure the brooder lamp to the wire mesh. For a tote brooder, you will likely only need a regular light bulb. Chicks will move away from the heat source if they get too hot and will move closer to get warmer, so be sure you have enough space for them to do that. If they are peeping loudly, they are either too hot or too cold. A happy chick will be all over the brooder, and sleeping quietly much of the time.
Be sure to check your chicks to be sure there is no poop on their butt. If they get messy, it must be cleaned off frequently to prevent any blockage that will always lead to unnecessary deaths. A warm wet cloth is used to soften the dried poop and clear the area.
For the first few weeks, you will want to provide some kind of litter for them to walk on. Most people use paper towels, as it provides a bit of grip for their feet, as opposed to newspapers, which are slick, and the ink can become toxic if they ingest it. Other options are rubber shelf liners, sand, or even feed. Rubber shelf liners provide good grip and will help prevent Splay Leg in a weak chick. Also the liners are washable and can be reused. Sand is nice for the chicks, it provides good grip, with the added benefits of being nice and warm from the heat lamps, lets them learn how to dust, and provides a natural baby grit. Sand however, must be sifted or raked to clean, and can be very dusty. Liners and sand are also a good option as they are not absorbent, so if part of it ends up in the waterer, it will not keep drawing it out making everything wet and moldy. After a few weeks and they know what their food is, you may start using pine shavings. Be sure that you do not use cedar, as cedar chips have oil in them that produce fumes and can be toxic for the chicks to inhale. Straw is another option, but, most people do not use straw anymore for bedding. Straw is cheap but, it also does not absorb moisture well, and the straw stalk is hollow which allows all kinds of nasty bugs such as mites and lice to live in the straw, and can harm your birds if they become infested. Fresh clean water and good Chick starter is essential. Grit is not necessary for the chicks if you are only feeding starter, but if you intend on feeding any kind of greens or seeds or anything other than commercial feed, purchase some grit as well.
Some common misconceptions about feeding your birds:
One of the biggest things I hear from most new poultry owners is that they usually end up feeding their birds Scratch grains or just corn as their whole food source, thinking this is all the birds will ever need. While chickens do LOVE scratch most of the time, it is not a complete nutritional diet. Think of it as the same as if you were to feed candy to your children all day every day with nothing else. Sure they love it, but it is not a balanced diet, and could cause loss of egg laying and other health issues in the long run.
Feeds are formulated and manufactured for chickens to meet their nutritional needs at specific ages and production characteristics. For example, starter feeds are fed to chicks from hatch to a few weeks of age. Grower and developer feeds are fed to "adolescent" growing chickens, while layer or breeder feeds are fed to chickens that are producing eggs.
The ingredients in these different types of feeds are similar; however, the proportions vary to provide the proper level of nutrition for the particular birds being fed. Each sack is labeled with its specific use.
Whether they are bantams or large fowl, white or brown egg layers, all chickens' requirements for protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals are similar.
Starter feed is for chicks day old to around 6 weeks old. You can get medicated or non medicated feed depending what brand you purchase, while non-medicated might seem like a good idea, medicated feed prevents a intestinal parasite infection called Coccidiosis, which can make your chicks very sick and die and is usually more likely to happen when the weather is very wet. Check the label for warnings concerning the medication used in feeds. Withdrawal dates will be indicated on the label if there is a risk of the medication's presence in the eggs. Feed medications are highly researched and regulated, so you can be confident that the eggs are safe to eat if you follow the label instructions, which is why that you rarely find medicated feed for adult birds already laying.
Common brands of feed in Colorado are Purina, Nutrena and Ranch-Way brand. Chick starter is usually around 18-20% protein.
Grower feed is for birds 6 weeks and older, until laying age and are commonly used to build up muscle mass for meat birds, but no harm in feeding older birds this type of feed later on.
Layer feed is for birds that are close to or already laying eggs, and contains extra calcium for stronger egg shells. I must point out however that you should also give them free choice oyster shell as a supplement. A small dish of this on the side is sufficient, they will eat it as they need it.
Breeder feed is not necessary and can be hard to find. It is usually used for birds that you are planning on breeding obviously, and contains more protein and vitamins for chick development and hatching. This type of feed is often more expensive, and like I said, not necessary for the backyard breeder. Purina makes a Game Bird Layena that is very good for chick development in the egg and good hatching rates.
If you wish to use non-medicated feeds, they usually are available or can be ordered. However, in some cases, mortality levels, especially in young chicks, may rise to unacceptable levels if non-medicated feeds are fed.
Water is the single most important nutrient that chickens consume. Therefore, it is necessary to provide adequate amounts of clean, fresh water daily during growth and egg production. Chickens will drink between two and three times as much water by weight as they eat in feed. Their consumption of water increases in warm weather.
Chickens, like other family pets, enjoy many of the same foods their owners do. However, excessive feeding of table scraps and greens may not be beneficial to the birds or to their productivity. Some supplementation is fine--in fact, greens help to keep egg yolks deep yellow in color--but, as with scratch, these foods should be limited. The same rule applies here: the total supplementation of scratch and table scraps should be no more than can be cleaned up in about 20 minutes.
If you crack open a egg to check fertility, this is what you will be looking for:
This picture shows a white dot on the yolk.
A fuzzy white dot indicates a non-fertile egg.
These pictures show what a fertile egg looks like. It has a much more defined shape of the white spot and sometimes, will clearly show a distinct bullseye circle.
Photos posted originally by SpeckledHen on BackYardChickens.com