Exhibiting Your Border Fancy Canaries
Once the end of the breeding season approaches, the Border Fancy canary breeder should be concentrating on preparing the young birds for the coming shows. The training of young birds should commence once they have left the nest and are feeding themselves. Training can never commence too early.
There are several advantages in exhibiting your Border Fancy canaries. Firstly, it is only by competing at shows that a breeder can accurately compare and gauge the quality of his/her stock against fellow breeders. It is easy for the breeder to make the assessment that the current crop of young Borders are of a good standard. But how good they are can only really be determined by comparing them against other breeders’ birds. The show bench is really the only safe and sure yardstick for this comparison.
This leads on to the other advantage where the breeder is able to gauge at what standard his/her birds are at and think about what is required to improve the stock in the forthcoming breeding season. Is there a minor fault in the stock that has to be eliminated? Does the breeder have birds that can eliminate this fault or does the breeder have to introduce a bird or a number of birds into the bird room to improve? What fellow exhibitors have birds that excel in this area? Perhaps you can approached them to sell some surplus stock to help improve your birds. The senior members and breeders of the Border Fancy Canary Club of Victoria are only too willing to assist breeders. Alternatively, is there a feature in your stock that excels over other breeders? This is very useful knowledge to ensure that you pair correctly in the forthcoming breeding season to ensure that your birds continue to carry this important feature into future generations.
Further, it is much easier to assess the quality of your birds if they are correctly trained and able to show at their best in the show cage. It is almost impossible to assess the qualities of a Border Fancy canary if it doesn’t show itself and is not at ease in the show cage. Preparing birds for shows settles them down and reinforces good temperament in the birds which is a most important attribute to have in the bird room.
The other major advantage in showing your birds is the social aspect. When fellow breeders come together to show their birds, they invariably form friendships and share experiences and knowledge. There is something about breeding Border Fancy canaries that brings fellow breeders together in a common goal of improving their birds and competing on the show bench. Life long friendships can be formed through breeding and exhibiting the birds. It is at shows that the good points of a Border can be discussed and compared and there is no better environment than the shows put on by the Border Fancy Canary Club of Victoria.
Training young birds should commence as soon as the babies have left the nest and are feeding themselves. A show cage should be placed on the front of the cage so the young Borders can hop in and out of the show cage safely. The sooner they get accustomed to the show cage, the easier it will be to train them. This is important foundation work for the young birds. Once the birds are confident in jumping into the show cage, the breeder should try to coax the youngsters into the show cage with a stick or his/her hand. Once a youngster is in the show cage, gently remove the show cage and place it and the young Border on to a bench away from the breeding cage, around about shoulder level if possible. This means that the youngster will be about eye level, which is the usual height that the birds will be judged at shows.
Leave the youngster in the show cage for a short time at first and repeat this as often as possible with all youngsters. It is advisable to have a group of youngsters all out at the same time as it replicates the show environment. Gradually increase the length of time the youngsters are in the show cages. At this stage, the breeder should have the show cage drinkers, filled with water, attached to the show cages. The young birds have to know where the water is when they are at shows and need to learn this important fact now in their early stages of training. A little piece of green food in the show cage drinker while they are in your bird room will always encourage the young Border to find water. Once this phase has been completed successfully, the breeder has achieved the next step in training; getting the young birds accustomed to the confines of the show cage. The young Borders will now be confident in the show cage. This is a most important milestone in preparing your birds for the shows. If the breeder needs assistance in assessing and forming a show team a senior member of the Border fancy Canary Club of Victoria will only be too happy to visit and assist.
Once the breeding season is over, the breeder should clean the bird room and all cages in preparation for the show season. No matter how meticulous the breeder is, the breeding season is a very messy time of the year and cages can get quite dirty. The young birds should be given every opportunity to moult their feathers in a clean environment, which will put them in a sound position once the show season approaches.
Once the bird room is properly clean, the training of the young birds should begin in earnest. A good practice is to place three or four youngsters in a double breeding cage with a show cage attached. Let them moult out in this environment and continue with the individual training as before. The show cage can remain attached right through the show season, but maintain cleanliness as well.
Check that each young bird has all of its claws (toe nails) and that there are no broken flight feathers or tail feathers. If you find a broken feather, pluck it out carefully and it will re grow in about six to eight weeks. Make sure there is no bullying amongst the young birds. If there is remove the culprit and house separately if possible.
Hang a bath on to the cage front of the breeding cage. The birds should be offered baths around two to three times a week right throughout the moult and leading into the show season. Remove the bath once the birds have bathed, but no later than early afternoon so the youngsters are dry well before night fall. The bath will keep the feathers clean and in perfect condition, which is essential for any success on the show bench.
Once the moult is over and the show season is approaching, some breeders begin to spray their birds in addition to the baths. A small amount of Glycerine can be added to warm water, shaken and dissolved (one teaspoon of glycerine to one litre of warm water). Let the water cool down so that the spray is only tepid. Give the birds a light spray in their individual show cages and return them to their cages to dry and preen themselves. This process can be repeated once or twice a week, but cease the spray three days before a show.
The young birds should be looking in top condition by now. Keep them scrupulously clean and feed them on a good diet, but not too rich as the birds tend to put on weight after the moult. Any excess weight on a Border will doom it at a show. Two months before a show, check for broken feathers again. Trim their toe nails.
Once show day approaches, make sure the show cages are in tip top condition and sparkling. It would be a pity to have a dirty show cage after all the work that has been put into preparing the birds for a show. Make sure the perches are clean and are in the correct position. Ensure that the perches are not loose and are firmly attached to the show cage. A loose fitting perch can unsettle a Border in the show cage and the bird will loose confidence and not stand at the correct position. It is also important to not have the perches too smooth. If the perch is smooth, the bird may have difficulty and not grip tightly enough and lose position. It is advisable, to use a small blade to roughen the perch to assist the bird.
Read the show schedule carefully and enter your birds in their correct classes. If you are unfamiliar with the classes, get the help of an experienced breeder in the club to assist you. They will only be too willing to help. Send your entries off in plenty of time so that you get your show cage stickers back well before the day of the show.
On the day of the show, allow plenty of time for the birds to eat and drink before they are caged. They will now be confident to jump into the show cage with minimal assistance from the breeder. Check that each bird has been placed in its correct class and the show cage sticker has been placed in the correct position on the show cage. Make sure the perches are clean and tight. Don’t forget your drinkers and bring along some fresh green food to feed your birds after the judging has been completed and the show is open to the public.
If the club allows exhibitors to view the judging, take the opportunity to stay and watch. it is a very valuable learning experience as you can see your birds as they are being judged and watch how they perform. You will also learn about the judging process and can compare and gauge your birds against those of your friends and other exhibitors. The Border Fancy Canary Club of Victoria encourages breeders to stay and view the judging at all of its shows. The judge will usually only has a limited time to assess each bird.
No matter how much training and preparation the birds have received, they still may not show themselves at their best when they are put on the show bench and are judged for the first time. Do not be disheartened, the birds have to learn this next (and most important phase) of their training at the show. It usually takes a couple of shows for the birds to settle down and be comfortable in this environment, which is quite different to your breeding room.
If your birds did not perform at their best when they are being judged, they need more experience in the show environment. Be assured that most birds will settle after a few shows. There are some birds that will not settle down, but these are a small minority. The Border Fancy canary is a natural show bird and this instinct has been bred into them over many generations. It is up to the breeder to give the birds the best competitive advantage and have them properly trained.
You have seen how your birds performed. Were they amongst the place getters? Did one or more progress on to the major awards? How did you go gauging and assessing their quality relative to the exhibits of your friends and others? It doesn’t hurt to seek some guidance from senior exhibitors plus the judge. Members of the Border Fancy Canary Club of Victoria are only too willing to assist more junior exhibitors in this regard. Ask the judge’s opinion of your birds. Seek some detailed guidance. All this information and guidance is very useful in the forthcoming breeding season.
Once the judging has been completed and the Show Manager agrees, give your birds a piece of fresh green food. Dip it into the water of the show cage drinker and place it between the wires of the show cage. It is a little treat for the birds and they will enjoy it immensely.
Once the birds are home, feed and water them before dark so they have the opportunity to revive themselves after the day’s outing. Give the birds a treat such as a little tonic seed.
Do not over show your birds. Four shows over the Young Stock Shows and the main show season are more than adequate. Some birds might need one more, but the breeder can assess this when the major shows commence as to how quickly the birds settle down in the show environment. Be careful with the hens especially. It is also inadvisable to show the same birds on consecutive weekends. If the breeder wants to show on consecutive weekends, halve the show team. Allow at least 14 days between shows.
Finally, shows are more than just a competition. The breeder can compare his/her birds. Friendships will be formed and all matters pertaining to the keeping of Border Fancy canaries will be discussed. It is an important learning environment for everyone. You will get much enjoyment out of showing your Border Fancy canaries. Good luck in the coming show season. Members of the Border Fancy Canary Club of Victoria are only too willing to help you.