For several decades, the Dunham family has said, “There is no such thing as show quality chicks.” Grandpa Dunham was the first to point this out to us as we were growing up, showing poultry in the 1970s and all the way through the early 2000s, in APA, ABA, FFA, and 4-H poultry shows.
With many breeds of poultry, you can tell at a day old that certain chicks will never be show quality…but you can also tell that others show promise. Therefore, sorting chicks can begin at a day old for some attributes.
At the Dunham Farm, we have never… and will never… sell chicks as “show quality”.
With Silkies, it takes several months to determine many of the attributes or standards we have been breeding for since we first bred Silkies in the 1970s in Colorado (see the S.O.P. / STANDARD OF PERFECTION).
Add to that, we have explained to thousands of people over the decades that, though some people throw around the terms “pet quality,” “breeder quality,” and “show quality,” there is a great discrepancy between what one person means and another.
The most widely-accepted definition of a show-quality Silkie is one that can be shown in an APA or ABA show without being disqualified.
We have said for many years that we do not want ours to just “not get disqualified,” but rather, we want ours to compete and win! Our birds have done just that. Our poultry have won shows all over the USA for decades. (In 2018, we donated bins and bins of trophies from the 1970s and 1980s to be repurposed for new poultry enthusiasts)
It is important to note that even pet quality Silkie chicks from The Dunham Farm are coming from outstanding parents that have been bred to the SOP…so they have great genetic bloodline.
But “all chicks are not created equal” in revealed characteristics or attributes (DNA genotype/phenotype) … another favorite Dunham Farm quote.
We sort for several standards starting at a day old. We evaluate the feathering of the feet, toe and toe nail color, skin color, etc. Though we will not know for several months if the chick is a male or female (cockerel or pullet), we are already underway in sorting out any Silkies that do not meet the SOP.
When chicks are a bit older, we look at eye color…and, again, we sell as pets the ones that do not have the desired eye color for show birds. This process goes on until we have the best adult Silkies remaining at 5 months to a year for those who want to breed or show.
It is an incredibly lengthy and complex process, but we have been doing this for decades and each generation has been trained on which attributes are a priority.
Great Grandpa Dunham used to say “never sacrifice type.” Type has to do with the shape of the overall body, head, tail, wings, legs, and feet…and each breed has a different body type detailed in the SOP for that breed. (See Silkie SOP)
Though the 4th generation of Dunhams has not shown actively for several years and the 5th generation of Dunhams are very young, we hope they will be able to enjoy the hobby in the near future, as their family has done for the last several decades.
We still help many people across the country with extremely competitive show quality Silkies… and we love to get those updates and photos from you all.
Most of our customers just want pet-quality Silkie chicks and guaranteed Silkie hens … and we are so happy to be able to help!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call.