Taming and training chickens for the fair competitions coming up is likely on the minds of a lot of people these days. Most of my birds are pretty tame already, but cage training is still necessary.
Judges favor entries that are calm and well behaved, so it pays to practice cage training as consistently as possible. If you're new to fitting and showing your birds, here's how I prepare my birds:
1. Using a wire cage similar to the type used at fairs, place your chicken in it. Practice handling the bird properly and place it in the cage, then out again a couple of minutes later. You'll want your chicken to become accustomed to this, as that's how the judge will do it when he/she inspects the bird.
2. Move on to the other exercises practiced by the judge. This includes inspecting the comb, eyes, wattles, and head shape. Then you'll want to spread the wings, check to ensure there are no missing or broken feathers. Finally, check the vent and tail feathers. Examine the feet to make sure the entry has the correct
number of toes, leg color is according to Standard, that the scales are flat and no parasites are present.
3. Continue this routine daily for two or three weeks prior to the competition. If one of the birds you'd like to show is wild and flighty, try going out to the roost after dark, lift the bird off and take some time petting and handling it. You'll be surprised to see the tameness in a bird after spending just 15-20 minutes a day with it.
Often times a judge will lean toward a chicken that is calm and easy to handle, versus a perfect specimen that is unpleasant to work with.
If you'd like more info on fitting and showing chickens feel free to download my book that's available from my website.