Above: Off to a terrific start: novice partnership Grimmer & Hornby’s yellow cinnamon won best in show at the recent National Exhibition. Photo: Steve Dominey
STEVE DOMINEY shares his tips for those novices who are the future of the hobby
ALL of the Fife fancy canary specialist shows include a very strong novice section, both in numbers and in quality of exhibits, and provide a worthwhile challenge to the new fancier entering the hobby. The results on the show bench this year are already continuing this trend.
The character and shape of the Fife certainly attract new admirers, be they first-time canary breeders or fanciers known for other breeds of canary, like me. If the correct quality of stock is sought then progress can quickly be made and it should not be too long before the new novice can be competing on the show bench.
This challenge should always be driven by producing your own birds for the shows, yet of course there will always be some who are content with showing birds that they have purchased. I would suggest each to their own, yet it surely always feels better to do well with stock that you have bred yourself.
It is important that champions supply the new novice with suitable birds to help take them forward. If they do well with them then it would be sensible to continue with birds from the same breeder in future years. This process helps everybody involved. There is nothing better that a genuine champion likes to see than a novice who does well on the show bench with birds from their bloodline.
I always advise: don’t try to work with too many birds at once, especially within the first year of breeding. Something like four matched pairs would be good for the first season. In future years, look for the additional birds that will help to raise the quality annually. If you breed some good hens then try to bring in superior cock birds to help take you forward.
It is also important to encourage the novice at all times, especially when looking to give advice and perhaps to suggest what their birds may be lacking. All birds have faults and they should be pointed out, but try to be positive when recommending how to improve those points.
Also, when showing for the first time, look to learn what features you need to improve on your birds when comparing them against other birds on the show bench. This is a great place to learn how good your birds are, but remember that you will usually learn even more if you are able to visit top breeders’ birdrooms and investigate how they have developed their stud.
Never be afraid of asking questions and try to develop your eye for the birds as soon as possible. Ask to steward at shows and you will soon start to see what features the judges are looking for. Also study the pictorial ideal and the written standard to understand what is required in an exhibition Fife.
It should be noted that there have been many novice exhibitors who have produced birds that have taken the best-in-show award at our leading specialist shows, which clearly indicates what is achievable in the Fife fancy.
This year alone saw yet another big win at Stafford with the novice partnership of Grimmer & Hornby taking the leading award with their beautiful cinnamon yellow heading a high-class entry of Fifes.
I would think that this occurrence happens more in the Fife canary section than any other branch within the world of exhibition canaries and that’s good for the fancy as a whole because it encourages further novices, as well as keeping the more experienced champions on their toes.
As we all begin to turn our minds to the next breeding season, don’t be left behind in acquiring any new stock, as quality surplus birds are eagerly sought after. If you have one or two seasons behind you, think carefully about what you need to do in order to take another step forward.
Make contact as early as possible with the breeder of your choice and try to visit the breeder’s birdroom rather than collecting the birds from the back of a car. You will then have the opportunity to see the parents and any other related stock so you can retain their features in your mind when making your pairings.
Always remember that you cannot purchase their best birds, but hopefully you can obtain stock related to or bred from these best birds. Many Fife breeders breed large numbers of young stock and they cannot keep them all.
In many cases the novice is the future of the hobby and it is pleasing to see good-quality birds exhibited in the novice section. This is indicative of the forward-thinking champions within the Fife fancy who are only too pleased to help novices wherever possible.
Steve Dominey is a member of the Yorkie Supreme partnership and an experienced breeder of Fife canaries.
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