President National Sebastopol Geese Association
How to Start
So, you want to show your Sebastopol goose? You're asking yourself how in the world do I do that, what do I need to do to prepare for it, and what happens once I get to the show. I will do my very best to make it as easy as possible for the beginner to understand.
First and foremost
One of the biggest things that a beginner can do to start off with is:
Purchase a Standard of Perfection from the American Poultry Association:
This gives the description of what your bird, and all other breeds and varieties recognized by the association, should look like. This is the guide of what judges are looking for when they are judging your bird. The book also gives a list of the points earned and points deducted for faults. I suggest reading and studying the standard prior to even purchasing your show quality Sebastopol.
Visit local shows:
This will give you an opportunity to observe, ask questions, speak to other exhibitors (even different breeds can add insight), study the environment, visit the vendors, etc. without the worry of making a mistake or not understanding and also just enjoy your time.I know my first show I walked in and felt like an alien. I did have a general idea from showing in 4-H, and AKC dog shows, but this was a different world from that. I really wish I would have visited a show prior to entering in one for the first time.
If you’re unable to visit a local show and jump in feet first, I truly hope this article will help you immensely, but at shows there are also plenty of friendly faces there that will help to guide you if you get lost.
Listings of shows can be found on the website Poultry Show Central, where they are broken down from month, state, region, etc.
Join the National Sebastopol Geese Association. As we grow, we are gaining more and more knowledge of how a club can be useful to its members. In the near future there will be more information on showing your goose and mentorships for breeding to the standard and exhibition. We will be providing more knowledge as we grow. It also helps when you go to a show and there is a representative from the NSGA at that show that can help you out even more.
Please understand that uprooting a bird or birds from their normal surroundings, mate, temperature changes, water changes, different lighting, noises, bedding, and other birds surrounding them does put a lot of stress on a bird. Having healthy birds will make it easier for them to handle this stress.
*** Always contact the show superintendent or show secretary to find out if any you need any required paperwork. (Contact information is listed in the show catalog) At some shows waterfowl may or may not need any health verification paperwork***
It is recommended with the Sebastopol geese to use the large plastic dog kennels or transport boxes to avoid breaking feathers. I am always finding kennels on Facebook market place, craigslist, garage sales/online sites.Transport boxes, I see many creative ideas for this. When making your own the key is ventilation and bedding.
I personally only provide water to my birds if traveling 4-5 hours plus. Anything above that I provide a small bucket clipped high up in the cage and just enough for couple of drinks. Other breeders and exhibitors do not provide water. It is personal preference.
Conditioning your goose for show
The biggest thing to keep in mind with the word conditioning is that it is not just the week before, the month before or even two months before show.
Conditioning starts from the genetic make-up of the gosling/bird. There are many steps you can take to ensure that your gosling has a great start at a good future in showing.
Proper nutrition- Remember low protein diets, grass, grass and more grass. There are many feeds out there. What you feed can depend on what your needs are. Some feed waterfowl pellets, mash, conditioning feed, and add other ingredients. Each person has their own feed recipe.
Plenty of fresh water- This speaks for itself. (Please remember that goslings can drown, and they need to be supervised, or provided proper waterers to ensure this don’t happen).
Proper housing- Space. these little ones will surprise you on how fast they do grow. They need room to stretch and not be overcrowded. Shelter from the elements- in some areas, goslings hatch while there is still snow on the ground. Please ensure you are taking safety precautions to protect them from the elements.
Cage training- (I personally forget about this one)
What is meant by this is to get the bird comfortable with being in a wire cage. Just like training a puppy to be crate trained, this is a process and takes a little time. If you’re able to start early, please do so.
Preparing the cage:
Preparing the cage:
Provide a wire cage- In my opinion it does not have to be anything fancy even a wire dog cage will work.
Provide bedding in cage or set in grass
Provide food and water (*at your discretion)
What to expect:
Expect your bird to freak out the first view times. (The earlier the better to start- recommended several weeks before show.
Your bird may try to climb out/fly out/ crawl out/ pace/ scuff up their bill causing some bleeding), possible broken feathers.
Start slow, maybe an hour or two a day and work up until you feel the bird will be comfortable with an overnight stay in a cage without causing stress. The calmer a bird in a cage, the better they will show.
After the bird has calmed down some, and feels more comfortable, walk by the cage several times. Enlist your family/friends/kids to help as crowds could walk by at shows, making noises and lots of commotion. Think of any scenario that could happen such as a group of admirers standing, and chatting in front of your cage, or bending down to get a better look.
Practice taking the bird in and out of the cage and handling it (the judge may do this)
How To Clean Your Goose
It is usually not necessary to bathe your Sebastopol. If you provide clean water sources to them such as kiddie pools, they will clean themselves. This may mean changing the water daily or more depending on your location, weather conditions, and ground condition. I live in a lot of clay/sand/black dirt mixture, so my 4 pools get changed on a rotation basis. Monday this pool, Tuesday, that one, Wednesday the other, Thursday the last one, then it starts over again with pool number 1. I say Monday because that is the day it started. Either way my pools go no more the 4 days without being changed. I am still working on a system that makes it easier and cuts down on the “gunk” in the pools…that’s a never-ending battle with waterfowl.
Keep in mind their water buckets also. They can get gunky and when they are cooped up, they use that water to “preen” and that dirty water can transfer to their white feathers.
Week before show:
Try to keep their area as dry as possible- If you're in a wet zone with a lot of rain, consider cooping them up at night or if necessary, for several days to even week or 2 weeks before show to help keep them cleaner. Provide good bedding, and shelter from the rain/snow/mud. (If they are cooped up for several days please allow time for swimming and bathing, then coop back up).
Not usually necessary. NO less then 3-4 days prior to show. Bathing can strip the natural oils of the feathers. If you need to blow dry them do so on a low speed and switch between air and heat. (I have only done this if soaked to the bone, and freezing temps. Otherwise they go out into the well bedded down coop.
If you need to bathe your Sebastopol, use a gentle soap (my recommendation is plain Ivory or Suave, or baby shampoo, others use dawn and other products). You can either put your goose in the bathtub, a small kiddie pool, Rubbermaid tub, anything of the like
Just a few drops of soap go a long way- it's hard to get all the soap out of those feathers. I myself use my bathtub, and only put a few inches in the tub with a few drops…that water is Yucky!!! (prepare to retrieve “floaties” out of the water as its usually green and I have had a few green feathers because I didn’t catch it in time)
Most of all your “primping” should be done before you leave for show.
What to Pack
It is a good idea to begin packing what your taking, or at least put it all in one area. I myself pack with the rule of thumb “I would rather have too much then not had enough”. Many shows are in a pretty rural area and stores can be far and few between for necessities.
Water Bucket (Most shows have a supplier, and some provide)
Feed Bucket, container
Other Items (Optional but recommended)
Standard of Perfection Extra Shavings
Hair Dryer Rubber Gloves
Vet Rx/Electrolytes/Sav-A-Chick Vetricyn/Neosporin
Baby Aspirin Pocket Knife
Hand Sanitizer Duct Tape
Cooler/Snacks Folding Chair
Change of Clothes Clothing Stain Wipes
Hair Ties Band-Aids
Pliers Comfortable Shoes
Vaseline/Corn Oil/ Baby Oil Baby wipes
Paper Towel Wash Cloths, Hand Towels
Apron or Large towel Spray Bottle
Soap/Bath in a bottle Vet Wrap
Blood Stop Q-Tips
Note-Pad/Pen/Marker Copy of Entry Form
Zip Ties Extra Phone Charger
Toothbrush Leg Bands
Hose Water Can
Empty Bucket Extra Paper/Pen
I’m sure there are other things on the above list that I could be missing and it is also a personal preference. I find each show that my box gets more and more in it. If there is something that your missing, I’m sure that someone might have what you need.
I will briefly explain the use of some of these items as you may ask why do I need this:
Vaseline/Corn Oil/Baby Oil is commonly used on the legs to make them a little brighter
All first aid type supplies- Broken blood feathers, scraped up bills, broken toe nails, injuries can happen to a bird that is not used to being in a cage.
Vet RX/Electrolytes/Sav-A-Chick – All help with hydration and the stress of the show.
All grooming supplies- Let's face it, they are white and “poo happens”, same with a change of clothes and towels
Tools- Some of the cages are bent out of shape, at night some zip tie the cage doors close.
Of course, when packing- Always remember to pack your smiles and have a good time attitude. This is supposed to be a fun experience, with friends/family.
When You Arrive
Allow yourself ample time to arrive safely at the show hall. Each show will have times listed for cooping in within their show catalog. Recommendation- the earlier you’re able to check in and let your birds relax the better they will be. (Myself, if possible, I coop in Friday afternoon, let the birds relax then Saturday A.M do my final prep).
Once you arrive at the show hall, before unloading any birds, find the table to check in, if you need to ask for help. Show staff will check you in and give you an exhibitor number. Once you have your number find your cages/coops, (Please ask for help if you need to) check your tags to make sure they are correct. If you did enter a bird and they are not accounted for please write on your coop tag the word “OUT”. This will tell the clerk and the judge that this bird is not accounted for.
I take this time to add extra shavings (the more shavings on a concrete floor the better, (experience- I had one slip and pulled a ligament/tendon and didn’t walk for almost a week after show), set up your feed and water buckets, then you can unload your birds. *Special note* If cooping in multiple birds PLEASE make sure that you have the right variety and sex in the correct coop** If you have had a long drive-after birds are settled take some time for yourself to unwind (check into hotel, take a nap, shower, eat, etc.). This is a good time to check out the venue, talk with other exhibitors, fix any mistakes on coop cards, notify of any scratches, get in early on the raffle/ sale area.
Show day is finally here, all your preparations, conditioning, hard work is getting judged. Now what....
Majority of the show halls open a couple hours prior to the start of judging. This is the time for you to do your final prep work. You could find that they decided to take a “bath” and are soaked, or find that somehow their neighbor “pooed” on your white bird’s back, etc, or you may walk in and find everything just as you left it and you may not need to do anything. You will find many that are spraying, and fluffing their chickens but this is not necessary with your Sebastopol. My recommendation is to “finger comb” the feathers for any broken or knotted feathers, and apply a little Vaseline to the bill and legs. Otherwise, I don’t feel it is necessary for anything else. Optional- Pull feed and water during judging, or No water the night before.
The judging has begun: Now what? Your work is finished.
This is the perfect time to eat, visit with friends, look over all the beautiful birds, visit the booths and vendors. Some breed clubs will hold meetings at this time. You could also volunteer to clerk for judges with the show personnel – it is a great way to learn!
During judging there are some general “rules” and common courtesies to follow.
When the judge is in the isle avoid that isle. You can listen to the judge from the next row over. Sometimes you may find the isle roped off.
Don’t interrupt the judge and avoid making comments. There is usually time after the judging to ask any questions.
Please remember that the judge has permission to handle your bird when you signed the entry form.
Once the judge is done with that area/breed or ropes removed this is when you can check the results. At the end the judge will come back through and pick the champions of class, then of goose.
After the Judging
When the judging of all classes is done one of two things will take place. For a 2-day show, the show hall normally closes early evening (6-7 p.m.), & for a 1 day show everything will take place the same day.
Champions are chosen, and some breeds are moved to champion row. Once the show Champions are chosen awards will be handed out. Once awards are handed out, the show personal will normally announce that exhibitors are excused. *Side note*- It is considered rude, and unsportsmanlike to coop out prior to being released from the show personal. Some shows even state in their show catalog that cooping out early forfeits all prizes, and some even state that you won’t be allowed back. There have been shows that awards are in a separate building and they will have people standing watch to make sure no one is cooping our early. Everyone is in a rush to get home and unwind, but this is for the safety of all birds as there have been misplaced birds.
It is also very appreciated if you can help with tear down/clean up. Its surprisingly how fast cages are empty, and the show area can be dismantled with plenty of manpower.
Disclaimer: This is written by Laura Huey, most of the suggestions are the way that she has done things/experiences and talking to others. NOT all things work for each and you may have to tweak things to fit your style.