Do chickens like going to shows?

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Do chickens like going to shows?

Postby Marigold » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:45 pm

Well, I went to the Reading & District Bantam Society show. It was very interesting and I had a chat with quite a few people and learned quite alot about bantams, but couldn't find any of you because, apart from Foxy, I didn't know your 'real' names! Anyway I spent some money, as one does, bought some books about quail, and had deliberately not taken my chicken transport boxes so no problems wondering what birds to buy.

This was the first poultry show I'd ever been to, and it did leave me feeling a bit uneasy. The noise level is of course about a million decibels from the cockerels crowing, I could hear them from a long way away as I walked up the road, plus the din of people trying to make themselves heard over this. I felt concerned about the stress level for the birds, in all that noise, in a strange environment, in those tiny wire cages, some without food or water. What I like about my chickens is the peace and quiet when we talk gently to each other, and I can observe them relaxed and happy in their own environment. In the Championship pens there was a trio where a hen was standing in what looked like some discomfort with an egg emerging from her vent and nowhere dark or comfortable to sit down and lay it. Some of the ducks for sale in particular looked as if they wished they were anywhere else than where they were, at ground level looking at feet and in a cage on their own with no company for support. I wouldn't have wanted my girls to go through that, plus the stress of transport to and from, and i wonder how much stress-related illness results from showing birds, and what else they pick up from those rather nasty cages.

Please understand that I'm not being critical of people who show their birds, please tell me i'm just being silly and the birds do enjoy it really, and are ever so proud if they come home with a rosette to pin up in their nestbox!
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Re: Do chickens like going to shows?

Postby chrismahon » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:10 pm

Well Marigold I read that half the art of showing was breeding the bird and the other half preparing it for show. By that I don't just mean a wash and blow dry and a special diet, but preparing the temperament. Feisy or stressed birds have not been prepared for the show pens. Like you I don't like the idea of no food and water and saw some terribly suffering birds at the Lichfield and District show in Alrewas a year ago. Baking hot and no water allowed -half were gasping with their beaks open clearly in major distress -so we left! I don't think they enjoy it as such, like they enjoy a soil bath or maggots, but some seem content to tolerate it. I do know they often return with some illness or infestation. We had considered showing Twiglett our Marsh Daisy but decided not to put her through it.

One thing that really really annoys me about shows is that, whilst claiming to welcome novices and certainly needing their money, there are never any labels on the cages telling you exactly what the bird is. Only the large shows have sections marked 'Orpingtons' or the like but they don't tell you the colours you are looking at. We've met frustrated first-timers at shows we've been to and can sympathise with them, as even 5 years down the line we are breed and colour novices and still get frustrated not knowing exactly what bird we are looking at. Worst is the 'Rare Breeds' section- loads of different breeds we have never seen before but what the hell are they!

Finished now; just picking my dummy up.
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Re: Do chickens like going to shows?

Postby foxy » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:22 pm

Yes the noise can be horrific! :o Chickens do have a different tolerance to noise and probably cope better than we think. Chris has raised a good point, it is essential to prepare a bird for the experience and this means handling and pen training. This process often will tell a keeper if the bird will cope in a show, if a bird appears distressed with pen-training then they usually would be left at home!

Some birds are real showers and will not have a problem, they will pander to an audience and even pose, they would be trained to expect a treat for this mind! :D

Top exhibitors know their bird inside out, and only a bird in the peak of condition, in glowing health and confidence should be taken. It is also important not to "overshow" a bird, it still is hard work for them and they will need time to recuperate afterwards, and this also means time in a quarantine area as well with a lot of pampering! :D
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Re: Do chickens like going to shows?

Postby Marigold » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:07 pm

Yes, I agree with you, Chris, about the lack of information about the birds - even the ones with place cards on their cages didn't say what breed they were. there were obviously some beautiful birds there, but as a complete novice I had no idea what a lot of them were, and could only make a guess at some of them. I had the feeling that everyone except me knew all about them and didn't need any help. Of course this wasn't actually the case, and when I did ask questions people were lovely, but if I had been someone thinking of entering any birds for a show in future and was just finding out how to go about it, it would have been difficult to know where to start.
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Re: Do chickens like going to shows?

Postby Lordcluck » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:49 am

whether one can say a bird actually 'enjoys' being shown or not is hard to say, indeed whether a bird experiences the same sensation of enjoyment as we feel it or not could be open to question. Undoubtedly, Exhibiting a bird is an unnatural process , but then our birds themselves are unnatural. Seven thousand years of Domestication and selective breeding has, in many cases, turned an unapproachable and jungle-wise species into an easily tamed and docile pheasant with dulled survival instincts.

I agree with Foxy, certain breeds and certain Individual birds within breeds are more suited to showing than others. Those of us that do Exhibit have all owned a potential winner who poses beautifully and contentedly at home in his/her training pen, only to arrive at a show, for it to spend the day sulking in a corner looking like it's at death's door! It's pretty clear that these birds are not content with the experience and will forever remain at home thereafter.
Other birds appear more than content with the process, they 'chatter' incessantly, scratch, ' Dust' in the shavings of their showpens, greet the judge at the pen door, 'gorge' themselves on the 'packed lunch' their owners bring for them ( often a treat enriched ration!) have crowing competitions with the rest of the males in the hall, and generally exhibit as much 'contented' natural behaviour as they would at home.

It can be a steep learning curve for some birds at their first shows. I suppose it can be equated with a first day at school. Strange faces, noices, sounds etc, will cause even the most confident of birds to be a little nervous, but given half an hour or so to settle, perhaps with a few morsels of a favourite treat, and nine out of ten entrants soon get into the swing of things. With regards to stress, yes, undoubtedly there is a degree of stress to any bird undergoing the Exhibition process, just as there are unavoidable and indeed necessary degrees of stress in ANY animals day to day life for it to have any motivation or chance of survival. Noise is something that animals and birds adapt extremely quickly to. You only have to look at the thriving populations of wild animals you find living within the protected environments of busy Airports or military Air bases, not to mention the natural havens of Artillery firing ranges to see that noise has no effect on their day to day lives!

Providing food for exhibits is the owners responsibility, Water is supplied by the show organisers, although some exhibitors choose to bring their own supply. At some shows, stewards water the birds, at others it's down to the owners. Birds are usually fed and watered well before arrival at the show,and are usually not in immediate need of either, until after the judge has assessed them. If you see birds without water, it's usually the case that they have yet to be judged!! Exceptional circumstances, like a heat wave should see birds watered before judging, welfare is normally paramount at any show.

The RDBS, and in fact most of the countries larger shows are usually pretty good with breed class labelling. Many if not most sections have a lamenated photograph of their breed at the head pen of it's section, and at Newbury there was a list of breeds posted up with their various pen numbers, so visitors could locate their favourites reasonably easily! There are also decorated breed club stands at the larger events, that cater for members and Newcomers alike, with attendants that are normally only too pleased to offer advice.
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Re: Do chickens like going to shows?

Postby ccm » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:33 am

Just to add to Lordclucks most excellent post, its in the interest of the exhibitor to ensure their birds are as relaxed and unstressed as possible, they have to show themselves to their best and be easy to handle if you want to be in with a chance of a card or two.
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