True showmanship is a rare quality indeed. It seems to be very very scarce these days from what I have seen on show floors in South Africa.
What exactly does one call true showmanship?
Well for a start it means in poultry circles that you :
- Only show birds that you have bred yourself. It is not enough to buy a bird from some one else, put it on show under your name and then win a prize. Where is the fun and reward in that? The bird shows the work and ethics of his breeder, not you.
- Make sure that your birds are worthy of a prize. They must be well presented, clean, with clean legs, no smell and certainly no parasites!
- The birds must be worthy of being on a show: in other words they must represent the breed they are to the best of their capability, and yours as the breeder. It is no use paying so much money for travel and show fees, only to have your birds disqualified because it has one of the myriad disqualifying errors listed in the SA book of standard:
ODD EYES/WALL EYED/ BLIND
SPLIT OR SLIPPED WING
FEATHER ON SHANK IN CLEAN LEGGED BREEDS
ODD TOES OR CROOKED TOES ESPECIALLY IN FIVE TOED BREEDS
FEATHERS NOT OF THE COLOUR STIPULATED IN THE BOOK OF STANDARDS
LEGS NOT OF COLOUR STIPULATED IN THE BOOK OF STANDARDS
EYES NOT OF COLOUR STIPULATED IN THE BOOK OF STANDARDS
COMBS NOT CONFORMING TO STANDARD OF THE BREED OR SIDE SPRIGS/ WRONG COLOUR COMB
SCALY LEGS/LICE/PARSITES/SICK BIRD
These are all in the book of standards and on the web site: http://www.saspo.org.za
As well as all these, the bird itself must be of good weight, not over the limit stated by the book of standard and not below either.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Once the bird has passed all of the above, it also needs to look like a champion. It may have none of the faults above but still may be a mediocre bird, not of good type. You need to judge your own flock for this and make sure you are not deluding yourself!
This is not easy, nor does it come overnight to a person just beginning to show.
Your birds need to be judged constantly. From the time you know that bird has potential, you need to separate it from the others, so as to avoid unnecessary harm coming to it. You need to feed it especially well right from chick stage, or it will never reach its potential. Many a bird I have seen on the show floor, that could be a champion but lacks the final polish, the final grooming to achieve that potential. And that comes from feeding, care, as in making sure there are no parasites, living conditions that have to be clean and sanitary, good food, clean water.
Remember the potential of your bird needs to be unlocked by you. It is inherent in that tiny chick, but you have to coax it out, or the bird will stop developing at the stage feed has run out or feed has become insufficient for its particular needs. It wont come and tell you that it needs extra this or that…you have to figure it out by careful monitoring of your flock, daily scrutiny, and much much patience.
Let me say here too that faking a bird that is mediocre in order to mask its faults is definitely not true showmanship. If you need to fake a bird, leave it behind rather. And NEVER tamper with the SASPO ring! That will not only get you disqualified but may get you booted out of the club and SASPO.
So: Be wise: Breed sensibly. Be careful what birds you buy in to add to your flock. Make sure you never set a new cock that you have just purchased, probably at an exhorbitant cost, onto every hen you have. Give him a few hens and see what offsprings he gives you first. You could totally annihilate your entire breeding stock otherwise. It takes many generations to repair the damage believe me!
People who sell you birds at exhorbitant prices usually are in it for the money only. They have no scruples, and will cross breed anything and everything and sell you a so called brilliant coloured bird at a high price. When you get it home, and breed it, you find every chick it throws is different, a clear indication that it is not pure. So be wise, be careful, do the homework.
BUY A BOOK OF STANDARDS AND READ IT!!!!!
There are no short cuts to success in the show ring.