There are two reasons we cover the show cage bottom with seed...
First, in most cases, shows make for a very long day. The birds will be in their show cages for many hours. Lining the cage bottom with seed will give them ample amounts of food for as long as it takes to get through the show, and often any travel getting to and from the show.
Second, most birds do not like to stand in their seed. Lining the cage bottom with seed usually keeps them up on the perch. Only hunger (and, occasionally, stress) will drive them to the bottom of the cage. Unless the species is a non-perching type, the Judge needs the bird to be on the perch in order to get a good look. If the bird stays in the bottom of the cage, not only can the Judge not see it, but it shows the bird was not properly show-cage trained. Most Judges will put a bird that stays on the bottom of the cage to the back of the pack, effectively putting them out of the running for any award.
STEP 1: MEASURE THE CAGE BEFORE CUTTING THE PAPER TO SIZE
Waxed paper, parchment paper, or paper towel (or any paper that matches the inside of your cage) will prevent droppings and drinking water from making a mess of the show cages - making them MUCH easier to clean afterwards! I use waxed paper because it is the exact length of my cage, meaning I will only have to cut for width. I usually do this BEFORE I add the seed, but I reassembled first this time. Most years, after having freshly painted the cages, I sand the perches and replace them, THEN add the paper and seed. This allows me to work without having to add seed through the door. Feel free to add this step BEFORE reassembling the cages. It is MUCH easier to add the paper and seed before putting the cage fronts back on.
Measure the cage both width and depth before cutting the paper to size…
STEP 2: CUT PAPER TO SIZE
You have your measurements, now you merely need to cut the paper! I use a craft paper cutter found in the "scrap booking" area of my local craft store. It allows me to just put the paper through and cut it to length in an instant!
STEP 3: INSERT PAPER INTO CAGE
Once you have the paper in the cage, you want to make sure it is the right fit. Remove it and trim it up if it is too wide for the depth of the cage.
Double checking that the paper is the correct size for the cage. I personally prefer it to go edge to edge all the way around.
STEP 4: ADD SEED TO COVER THE ENTIRE CAGE BOTTOM
It’s important to use a seed mix that is appropriate for the species of bird you are showing. For instance, you don’t want to use a Cockatiel mix in a cage with a Gouldian in it! You don’t need to use your expensive breeding seed to line the cage – chances are there will be enough droppings in it after the show that you will throw it away anyway! I've chosen to use my Resting Mix for the bottom of these cages. While my birds ARE still breeding, the Breed/Molt mix is just too expensive to use in the show cage then throw away afterwards. I will NOT reuse food that has been pooped on all day long! Just my personal preference!
STEP 5: ARRANGE SEED TO COVER PAPER
Make certain the entire cage bottom is covered with enough seed to prevent the paper or cage bottom from appearing. The Judge may tip the cage in various directions, so you want enough seed in there that if he/she does tip the cage, the bottom never shows. About 1/4" of seed is usually more than enough.
STEP 6: REPLACE CAGE FRONTS
If you haven’t already done so, replace the cage front on your cage. Your cage is now ready for your show bird!
Step back and take a look. Looks good, huh? Yessir, it sure does!
It's 2 weeks before the show. Now that the cages have had paint touched up, have been cleaned, disinfected, and reassembled, we want to line each cage with waxed paper and cover the entire cage bottom with the seed you’d feed your birds.
SHOW PREPARATION SERIES:
TWO WEEKS BEFORE A SHOW - PREPARE YOUR CAGES
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.