Why do we show our birds?
That’s it in a nutshell. Job done.
But really…If you believe in what you are doing and the breeds that you keep, you want to make sure they are the best they can be. There is no better way than comparing them to the best that other breeders can raise. And you want to show them off … in the hope that other fanciers walk past, take a look and decide they can’t live without them.
All the breeds here at Eggucation are (or have been before our amazing team of schools took them under their wing, and into their incubators!!) amongst the rarest British breeds of poultry. It is therefore essential that not only is the gene pool is kept as broad as possible, but also preserves the correct breed standard. The breed standard for any poultry breed in the UK is documented in the Poultry Club of Great Britain’s book of poultry standards. It lists all the attributes of the breed, from feather and leg colour, size (precisely in grams!), eye colour, shape (type) and the individual characteristics of the breeds – all breeds are not the same!!!
So when our school chicks are growing up, we are essentially constantly looking to see if any of these birds have that star quality. A good show bird will often have that ‘swagger’ as well as a full tick list of points that meet the breed standard. When you look at the birds that win Best in Show at prestigious events such as the National (being the best bird there out of approx. 7000) – then we are looking at perfection. In breed standards, condition, poise and preparation!
The selection process for the Nationals has to be done, in outline at least by mid October – entries close very early to allow these big shows time to plan their layout. However this does mean often taking a risk that birds who are not quite ready – as in not come through the moult properly or birds that still have some growing to do. Entries are not cheap, and as it is so labour intensive prepping the birds before the show and on show day… SO a judgement call has to be made. Invariably some are not ready and a pen will remain empty, and some birds will come good just too late to enter! Such is life….
So what goes into prepping those birds once they have been chosen to represent Eggucation at the big shows….Nothing short of the best (as ever) treatment. Our show birds are brought into special show pens a couple of weeks before the show. They get used to the smaller pen, and the hustle and bustle of people seeing to them. And our birds enjoy Radio 6 Music too! Then a week before the show the real work starts – a shampoo and set (in the shower!), nails filed and beaks trimmed. Each bird can take more than an hour of preparation. They do seem to enjoy their warm bubble bath and blow dry!
Then they return to deep shavings filled pens and we cross everything that they stay clean for the rest of the week. Pens are cleaned two or three times a day and their every need tended to. Boxes for the journey are prepped, feed, water and all our tricks of the trade.
On the Friday night its wonderful to be actually able to box up the birds, get them in the car and set off. On arrival at the show the birds have to be checked for health then put into their pens, fed and watered. Then its time to relax for a while until show day. Saturday morning the doors open at 6.30, and all birds have to be fully prepared by 8.30am when judging starts. That is the point where there is nothing left for you do to, no more can be done…it’s the judges choice…
And 2017 has brought yet more success to our amazing rare breeds. We took five of our #ConservationInTheClassroom rare breeds, and came away with no less than 8 first places, 4 best of breeds, Champion Autosexing (we won this in 2014), Bet Andalusian (with a bantam!), Reserve Champion Croad (Kat has his second trip to champions row as he was there in 2016!), Best Welbar male, Best Rhodebar, Best Silver Duckwing Welsummer Bantam. An amazing year so well done all our schools…
Who can #hatchachampion in 2018??