Show Cage Preparation

                                          by Mike Walters




I have writen an article similar to this for our NMC Modena club but I thought many of our saddle breeders could find some information that could help them as well.

Preparing for a show the right way is more than just a few days or a week of training. It starts as soon as the baby is on its own feeding well. This is even truer with our homer breeds. Which as we know can be a very skittish bird.   

Young babies are not so scared of us. So if we start putting our saddles in show cages, they will get use to them faster. So don’t work your babies hard at this age. Just leave them in there for a couple hours to realize that they can’t get out and finally settle down. Gently reach in and take them out a few times. Checking flight feathers and then place them back in. Station is not important now.

As they grow, cage training can get more advanced. With moving them from cage to cage and using your hands or judging stick to get them into the station “pose”. Sometimes this takes no more than your hand in front of them outside the cage. But make sure you don’t tire them out. Increase the cage time and handling time at intervals over the summer.  

During the latter part of the training season, start leaving them in the cages all day and over night. Make sure to have feed and water dishes like you would at a show. We have all seen some show birds that didn’t eat or drink there. After a long travel time in a carrying crate, they need this food and water fast when arriving. So this feeding and watering training is also very important.  

If you have loft visitors over, it’s the perfect time to have the birds get use to being handled by strangers. Have your visitors handle and move them around, as they will come show time. I even clap my hands and ruffle newspaper to get them use to strange sounds. And believe me it all helps.  

Some judges like using a judging stick and some just their hands. So remember to use both methods when training your birds. But do it gently. If you loose your patience, your show team will end up loosing valuable back cover feathers or worse. If a bird becomes crazy, just walk away and try it again latter.  

There is nothing more sad than to see a really great example of the breed be put down the line simply because the judge cant get it off the side of the cage. And to get the birds to accept human handling will take longer than the week before the show.

So start working those babies now. It will pay off.  

I hope this may help some of you. It has worked well for me. I want to see a great group of saddles at all our shows. So work with them. Show off those beauties you have spent all year breeding.                                



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