5 Tips to Prepping Show Ready Waterfowl
When you are reasonably new to showing ducks and geese it can be hard to know where to start, and there is way more to it than I’d be able to write in a single post. What I can do though is share 5 tips to prepping show ready waterfowl that I’ve learnt over the years to help you best prepare for your next poultry or waterfowl competition.
1. Selecting your waterfowl – The Wild Card
Selecting the right geese and ducks to show is probably the most important part of showing waterfowl, and it’s a long term strategy… not only in the initial stages of breeding a ‘show ready’ flock (read more on that by clicking here), but knowing who your judges are and what they look for can be critical. You should definitely select your show team based on Australian Poultry Standards as that’s what the judges will be going by, but the final decision on the winners will differ slightly on the finer details depending on the judge’s taste edlekarna.cz/. For example… a while back when I had some Rouens entered at one of the shows I already knew one of the judges there would be judging at another show the next year, so I approached him and asked what he looks for in a good Rouen duck. His answer was ‘I like the females to be a good earthy brown colour’. So when the next show came around that he was to judge I selected 2 ducks that I thought should win, and then I also entered in what I like to call a ‘wild card’. This is the duck I feel would best meet the features he would be looking for. This is something I have done for years… even back when I was showing Angora Goats. There is a lot you can learn from talking to show judges, and the amount of times the ‘wild card’ was the one that brought home the ribbon was definitely confirmation that it was worth doing.
2. Protect the feather colour
There are a lot of things that come in to play when trying to achieve the best colours in your ducks and geese i.e. diet, fresh water, living conditions to name a few. But once you have your birds looking their best, how do you ensure it stays that way in the lead up to the show? Well, one of the best ways to avoid colours fading is to pen your waterfowl in a well shaded area straight after moulting in the weeks leading up to the show, as that is when their colours are at their most vibrant. By doing this it keeps them out of direct sunlight, which can be a sure-fire way of fading colour in your ducks and geese. It’s definitely not something you should do all the time, as ducks and geese need sunlight, and it can be more detrimental to the health of the bird long term… but 4-5 weeks of shaded, or dappled light shouldn’t be an issue.
3. Clear the area
This is not as relevant if you have smaller penned birds. It’s more for the larger goose breeds you may have free ranging.
The morning of the crating and transporting of the birds you’ll want to make sure you have a designated area for catching and prepping the birds for transport. Make sure it’s not a dusty or muddy area. Preferably a grass or hard surfaced area will work best.
If it’s a grassed area where the grass may be a bit longer, and you plan to be in there with the birds early morning, it’s a good idea to run a group of birds you aren’t showing through there first. That way any dust or dew on the grass is wiped off on to them. Especially if you are showing the heavier meat breeds whose bellies tend to drag a bit… and if you’re really fussy you can break out the leaf blower to help dry the grass out.
4. It’s all about the legs… and bills
Just before you crate your waterfowl it’s a good idea to have a little tub of Vaseline, or moisturiser handy to rub on their bills and legs (this would happen after you wash their bills and legs). This is a good way to bring out the colour in them and ensure they have the best looking legs and bills possible.
5. Clean your crates
Now, you’ve done everything mentioned above (and much more I’m sure), and it’s time to crate the birds. You should ensure the crate or box you plan to transport your birds in have smooth sides to avoid feathers catching and being roughed up, and that they are well ventilated so the birds don’t overheat. If you have a filthy crate, or box with old shavings in it that you will be putting your (hopefully) prize winning birds in, then everything you’ve done up until now will have been a waste of your time. Make sure every speck of mud, dust and bird waste has been removed and the crate has been cleaned within an inch of it’s life. You’ll also want to make sure you add plenty of fresh shavings to soak up any bird droppings during transport. If you do this, then it will ensure all that hard work you’ve just put in to getting your waterfowl show ready was worth it.
Now as I mentioned earlier there is a lot more that goes in to getting your waterfowl ready for showing, but these are just a few tips and tricks you may not have known that could help you take your birds to the next level. I should also mention that if you are new to showing poultry or waterfowl then it’s always good to chat to other exhibitors at the shows. If you’re enthusiastic and hungry for knowledge they will see that and in most cases be more than happy to take you under their wing a bit to show you the ropes. At the end of the day we are all there for the same reason, because we are passionate about our birds and so it would be crazy not to share knowledge and continue growing the community for current and future poultry lovers and exhibitors.