It works the same as a lot of other cause and effect issues we face, such as doing well in a test because we actually spent time and effort studying. Keeping your chickens tame through the winter means we need to come up with a plan to spend time handling them, even while the weather is so nasty and uncomfortable that we may prefer to stay inside close to the fireplace. Dashing outside for a quick feeding/water replacement and egg gathering during the winter won’t get the desirable results when it’s time to bring your chickens to the fair.
Though many experts sell people on the idea of getting chickens by emphasizing how little time and effort they require, most accomplished people maintain that rewards increase in direct comparison to the effort expended. This is so true in the hobby of fitting and showing chickens where regardless of the season, consistency pays off. Following are three tips that may help you to maintain the tameness of your show quality chickens, even when weather conditions make you wish you could stay warm inside:
1. If you plan ahead, you don’t need to catch pneumonia going outside to care for your birds. In fact, you can work out a schedule that doesn’t keep you outdoors much longer than normal. Realize that your fitting and showing plans can be sabotaged by allowing your chickens to spend far less time around you than they’ve been accustomed to. You will need to commit yourself by bundling up and spending a little time with your birds by picking them up, petting them and offering a treat.
2. Stagger which of your chickens you’ll work with each time you go outside to do your regular chores of feeding your animals. For example, if you have a dozen chickens you can work with just two a day, and end up giving each of them some training every week. At that rate, they’ll remain accustomed to you and will be much more likely to behave like show birds at the next competition.
3. Take them into your garage, covered patio, or deck (not in your heated home) where it’s a little more pleasant and practice their show posture exercises with a show stick. Then hold them and pet them for a couple of minutes, talk to them quietly, and feed them. Spread their wings, check their combs, beaks, etc. (i.e. handle them just like the judge will) and you’ll not only be keeping them tame, you’ll be able to keep close tabs on how each one is doing health-wise. The next time you go out, take a couple of other chickens and go through the same routine.
With just this little bit of extra effort, you’ll be much better prepared for the early Spring shows. The judges will appreciate your tamed, easy to handle show birds and will likely reward them accordingly. And, using this plan won’t keep you out in the cold much longer than you need to be for basic flock maintenance.
Photo. Larisa Koshkina