This is a question I ask myself every time I:
Prepare for a show or for the entire show season with the emphasis on the Specialty Show, naturally.
When paring up my birds with a specific color in mind, instead of pedigree line breeding.
When a fellow hobbyist phones inquiring about buying breeding stock- I ask them the same question, "How bad do you want to win" and go from there. This automatically tells me how serious they are and what quality and price range to discuss. If you are the least bit show oriented this question should never be far from your thoughts.
I think of myself as one of those pricey personal trainers that athletes use when preparing for a particular competition. As their agent/trainer, I must perform many duties. First an entire list of the shows for the season is needed as soon as possible giving us date, location, and judge. These three factors dictate to me where I shall be going. NOT who’s going to be there! Once the overall plan has been decided, I then proceed to whip my contestants into shape.
Cages are cleared; similar aged birds and sex are placed four to nine in a cage depending on the cage size. Once the birds establish a picking order within each holding pen I watch for compatibility problems, plucking, unnecessary squabbling, etc. If all goes well these teammates are never changed for the remainder of their training.
Light, water, diet and traffic from strangers are all carefully monitored, with little to no changes being made from the normal routine with which they’re all accustomed to. Remember, changes to their environment no matter how subtle causes stress which equals weight loss.
Next a bathing schedule is implemented as far off as two to three months from the first show. I prefer hot water for bathing, thus giving my trainees a warm vapor bath. I believe the warm water better straightens those frayed plumes. I start with one to two baths a week soaking the birds completely and increasing to every day the last two to three weeks before the show date. However four to five days prior to the show all bathing stops in order to give the birds down ample time to fluff up. Keep in mind showing is all illusion and how the judge perceives the bird to be.
Believe me, bigger in appearance is a huge plus come show time.