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When fitting chickens for a show, do not neglect to trim beaks and toenails and do them prior to washing the birds.
When washing chickens for an upcoming show, give them several days to air dry and re-oil their feathers. I like to give my birds 3-5 days after they are washed before I show them. I never use a blow dryer as it damages the feathers.
Waterfowl are especially sensitive to the effects of artificial lighting. It is quite possible to throw them into a moult or cause them to begin producing eggs out of season if they are affected by yard lights. It may be necessary to black out windows which allow such light in buildings containing waterfowl.
If Laryngo is a problem for chickens in your area (the south and some parts of the Midwest) you should consider vaccinating for it. If you do not want to get into the yearly cycle of doing so, it would be wise to keep the vaccine on hand as it will stop the disease in it's tracks. If you show chickens, that is especially important.
When your poultry is being stressed for any reason including illness, a good idea is to give them probiotics which will reinforce and protect essential gut bacteria. Such treatment is especially vital after dosing with antibiotics which kill those bacteria.
You should always treat birds for mites and lice both before and after taking them to a show. Be careful about using sprays, however, since some will stain the plumage of white birds.
Nothing is more stressful for birds than being shown. Taking some of their own feed and water to the show is one way to help reduce the stress. Another way is to insure that their carry coops are roomy and clean.
Do not feed oyster shell to either ducks or chickens before the young females begin to lay. Doing so may lead to kidney damage.
With the show season in some parts of the country only 3-4 weeks away, it is time to go over potential show birds carefully for unmoulted/damaged plumage. A few unmoulted or frayed feathers can be the difference in tough competition.
While West Nile Virus seems to be on the wane in the U.S., this is the time of year when infected waterfowl will be stricken. Symptoms come on quickly and death usually comes within 48 hours or so. Birds appear to mope and have little appetite. Young birds appear to be the most likely victims. Chickens can contract West Nile but show no symptoms.
Both ducks and geese benefit immensely from access to pasture during the growing period once they have fully feathered out. Goslings in particular should not be raised without at least limited access to pasture.
"Angel wing" is at least part nutritiional. Be careful to step down the protein content of the feed for both ducks and geese once they reach 6-8 weeks of age. 16 % protein is about right after that time rather than the 18-20% found in most start/ grow feeds.
It is my belief that purple barring in both black chickens and ducks is caused by severe heat that causes them to go off of their feed while new plumage is growing in. It seems to be more of a problem with young birds than with older ones.
Remember that it takes as long as two months to replace some types of feathers. Go over birds going into late summer or early fall shows now for frayed or off colored feathers.
With much of the country experiencing severe heat, keep in mind that birds need special care when the heat is extreme. Water should be replenished/changed at least twice each day and if the birds must be handled, do it very early in the day. better yet, put off moving or handling them if at all possible until things cool off.
Both chickens and waterfowl in pens really appreciate and benefit from fresh greens. One can harvest weeds and lawn clippings (as long as pesticide free) or the birds can be given access to pasture even for short periods of time.
The heat of summer calls for special care with ventilation and water. Ventilation should be good whether supplied by fans or open doors and windows. water should be changed every day at least.
Having problems with feather eaters among your growing chicks? Locate the culprit by looking for traces of blood on the beak- once found, "demote" the culprit by placing him with a batch of much older chicks. Usually, he stops picking feathers immediately.
One secret to success in breeding waterfowl or chickens is knowing how and when to properly cull the young stock. In order to do that one must be thoroughly familiar with the Standard in one's breed (s) and with the growth characteristics of the strains one has.
If you use portable plastic pools for your ducks, remember that moulting birds lose much of their ability to repel water. Always provide a ramp the birds can use to get out of the pool. An inverted V shape piece of hardware cloth makes a good ramp.
Be sure to treat regularly for mites during the warm weather. Birds are already stressed when they moult and mite infestation will further weaken them.
Continue to provide high quality feed to your birds (waterfowl and chickens) during the summer. When they moult, they need quality protein to to regrow their plumage. Scrimping by just feeding corn would be a mistake.
As the breeding season ends, remember to stop making oyster shell available to the birds (waterfowl) as it can do organ damage to them when not needed for egg shell production.
Be careful about the shelf life of medications you depend upon. Some antibiotics, for example, begin to lose their potency. Have such products on hand rather than having to send for them when they are needed.
Try to never let young chicks, ducklings or goslings go without water for more than an hour or so. If they have been without for an extended period, give them room temperature water in small amounts. Large amounts of cold water can kill them.