Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chicken Spa 101

So, changing gears from the big engraving show last weekend, I have a big poultry show this weekend. A lot of my engraver buddies were unaware of this "chicken thing" in my life, but I think they kinda got the point after thumbing through the 100ish pieces of chicken art in the portfolio... ;-) I answered a lot of chicken questions. All good, I'm used to it... There is always a bit of disbelief regarding the notion of washing chickens. Yup, I really do wash them in preparation for a show. Sometimes they just need a little, sometimes they need a lot. But even more importantly I think is the fact that washing and grooming a bird seems to do wonders for taming it.

Today was chicken-washing day in preparation for taking birds to the show on Friday, thus today I give you "Chicken Spa 101, how to wash a chicken." ;-)

Today I washed 13 birds. Here's my first victim, I mean volunteer. If pictures could talk, he's quite vocally expressing his displeasure. This guy has never been shown, and has not been handled much. They do eventually settle in and seem to like it, but I'll admit it can be chaotic at times. I didn't manage to photograph those moments, I had my hands full!

Scrub a dub dub! I use dog shampoo. Some people use a mild dish soap.

Girls are a little easier to deal with, they're more civilized toward each other so I can put a bunch in the sink at once!

Rinse the soap off!

All clean and wrapped up!

Waiting on the washing machine while I clean up his brother...

Chicken burritos!

The laundry basket is a good way to transport them from one room to another! ;-)

After they've been in the towels for a while, it's time to trim beaks... Oh, I have to share with you something totally cool I learned last weekend from a friend. I seriously thought he was pulling my leg. Sodium Hyaluronate, derived from chicken combs, is some sort of magical goo that's used in some types of eye surgery. I don't know enough about it to explain it, but I had no idea. Now I want to know where the chicken combs come from... I've never heard of the combs being specifically harvested in any sort of poultry industry. Anyway, little tangent there for you to ponder.

Trim the toenails (this can be a little scary if you've never done it before).

And everyone gets a numbered leg band for show.

Normally this time of year it's cold and rainy, and I end up drying birds in the kitchen, where I put them in cages and crank up the space heater.

But it warmed up enough today that I could let them dry out in the sunshine, which is so much better! Look at those guys! Holy tail feathers, Batman!

All those girls, he probably thinks he won the lottery...

Everyone's tucked in for the night. They normally live in big coops, but are spending a couple days in "show cages." These are the types of cages where they are housed during a show, and they settle in much nicer at the show if they have spent some time in these cages beforehand.

There you have it! A day at the chicken spa. Now come on down to the fairgrounds in Stockton on Saturday and say hi!


Anonymous said...

The girls look like they think they have won the lottery with all that grass! -BMc

Jennifer MacNeill said...

Now that's the funniest thing I've ever seen, especially the pile wrapped in towels!

Anonymous said...

I still love the chicken burritos! - BMc.

brokenfeather said...

Impressive comb on that BBR male to go with those fine tail feathers. I wish I could be there to see them in person.
I am anxious to see the "other side" of the knife! Saw Red Tails...I hope its the P-51 "Cadillac of the Sky"

Terry and Linda said...

I very much enjoyed this post. I have never washed a chicken in my life and wondered how to do it. Now I wonder if I could wash my girls.....


Liane said...

Beautiful pictures! I've trained chickens before but never had to wash them! They are lucky to have such a nice spa. All the best at the show.

Granny Annie said...

I love all your posts but this has to be the best ever!

dougzilla said...

Much easier to wash ducks - you just put them in the tub with a bunch of warm water and some baby shampoo, close the curtain and they wash themselves (and make a giant mess out of the tub in the process...).

Ask a Poultry Farmer said...

I love your step-by-step photos! We've shown chickens for many years, and linked to this post on our new blog,

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