Showing your ducks (or chickens) can give you a great sense of achievement, even if you don’t win. After all, it’s the taking part that counts! However, if you’re new to showing poultry it can be daunting and it’s hard to know where to start.
If you’re looking to show a specific breed of duck, for example Muscovy, then it’s worth contacting the breed society or club for breed standards and dates of shows. You can also look on the Poultry Club of Great Britain website for advice, show dates, and showing guidelines.
Ducks are categorised into Heavy Duck, Light Duck and Bantam Duck at shows. You may also find classes for juvenile ducks, trios, rare breeds, and eggs.
But once you have this information, how do you make sure your duck puts its best foot forward?
Here’s our advice on showing your ducks:
Does your duck make the grade?
First things first, check the breed standard for your duck and see if they make the grade. For example, does your bird have the correct colour legs?
If your bird doesn’t quite meet the breed standard you can still have fun showing but you’re unlikely to come home with the top prize.
Start preparing early
Show preparation should start a few months before you plan to attend the show, it isn’t as simple as giving your duck and bath and sending off your entry fee. It’s a good idea to separate the duck or ducks you intend to show from the rest of the flock and keep them somewhere clean to prevent mud stains taking hold.
Correct feeding ensures good bone and muscle, it can also change their leg colour if you feed maize (too much maize will give white legs and yellowish tinge).
Regular use of louse powder or spray will ensure good feather health and stop you transporting any unwanted “guests” with you when you attend shows.
You’ll also need to keep an eye on your duck’s general health and keep their claws trimmed to a reasonable length.
Get your entries in on time
Entries for shows usually close a few weeks to a week before the show starts so make sure you don’t miss the deadline. Check your entries and keep a note of the classes you’ve entered.
If you do need any information you can usually contact the show secretary and their contact information can be found in the Poultry Club Yearbook.
The week before the show is the time to give your duck a thorough bath, including grubby legs and feet, as this allows time for the natural oils to return to the feathers. It’s important to mention at this point that you shouldn’t use any kind of soap to bath ducks as you’ll wash all of the natural oils out of their feathers.
If you’ve kept them in a clean enclosure with access to plenty of fresh water they should have kept themselves fairly clean.
To give them a final spruce up the day before the show use warm water to give their feet, legs, and bills a gentle scrub with a nail brush.
Once they’ve had their bath you might want to put a light coating of coconut oil or Vaseline on their legs and feet for extra shine.
Next week we’ll look at transporting your ducks and what happens at a poultry show.