This is a guide to help those of you who may be asked to put your geese in a display, perhaps at a smallholder event, or at a agricultural show, not for those seasoned show hands of our members, who have thier own methods and secrets for preparing geese for a competitive show.
The unfortunate thing about geese is that you can’t fir them into the kitchen sink for a wash! Even if you put them in the bath, the ensuing tidal waves will ruin your floors and ceilings, and take hours to mop up. If you are lucky enough to have clean, xpring fed ponds, then you will be spared a lot of work and can dismiss this next bit.

Purchase A Plastic Paddling Pool
I’ve found that the easiest way to get the feathers clean is to use a plastic paddling pool and change the water a couple of times a day, for the week leading up to the display. The geese will splash, clean and preen themselves, and you won’t get soaked to the skin (don’t stand too close to the paddling pool when the splashing is in progress). Do not use any detergent, as this will strip the natural oils from the feathers, and may result in the bird getting waterlogged, and also any mud or dirt will get absorbed into the feathers, and you will have to wait for the bird to moult to get pristine new feathers. The only time I use a detergent of any type is when it is a very important show. The cleanser is designed for animal use and I only put it on stained wing tips, very carefully, rinsing thoroughly, and not more than once in a season.
I live on red sandstone, which does tend to stain the feathers badly in wet weather. Other people I know live on slate, which again stains feathers. The ideal is to live on chalk or limestone grassland and your geese will hopefully remain the colour nature intended. Make sure the geese go onto clean bedding each night, shavings or hemp bedding are the best as straw often has a lot of dust in it.

Show Kit
On the morning of the display, I take a ‘kit’ with me consisting of a clean bucket, a flask of boiling water, a bottle of cold water, some fairy liquid, a sponge, soft nail brush/old toothbrush, a couple of old towels, some oil and some lotion. When you arrive at the display, put a squirt of fairy liquid into the bucket, add the boiling water and then enough cold water to make it tepid. Spread a towel across your lap and start to clean the bird’s beak with the sponge and use the nail brush/toothbrush to clean the beak serrations. I then clean the legs and feet with the sponge if not too dirty, and with the nail brush if ingrained dirt is present. Dry off the beak and legs with another towel, and then for the final beauty treatment, rub a little baby oil or olive oil onto the beak to give it a shine, and I like to rub a little baby lotion or hand cream into the legs and feet.

Final Check
Do a final check of the feathers, especially if it a white goose, and if there is any soiling, gently clean off with the sponge and some clean water, and bolt off with the towel.
You can do this beauty treatment the night before the display if you wish, but be warned, they always seem to manage to spoil themselves in some way before you get to the display, which is why I tend to leave the final preparation until I reach the display. Finally rinse out the bucket, fill it with fresh water and leave it for your bird to drink during the day.

Taken from the article written by Jenny Pritchard for Fancy Fowl magazine 2003.