Having Some Fun with Showing Chickens

By Kimberly Willis, Robert T. Ludlow

When you get interested in breeding your own chickens, you may become interested in showing them. At poultry shows across the United States and in most other countries, proud poultry owners can show others what their breeding programs can produce. As with other forms of domestic animal showings, poultry show winners receive trophies, ribbons, and often cash rewards. Showing poultry is also a good way for children to become involved in 4H or FFA.

Getting started in showing

To show poultry, you need purebred birds that conform well to breed standards, a set of rules stating what colors, markings, comb type, and other features are typical of the breed. Poultry judges, who usually once were poultry exhibitors themselves (and may still be), examine all birds entered in the show and compare them to both the standards and the other birds exhibited. You don’t have to breed the birds you show, but breeding your own top-quality chickens and seeing them win is the fun part for most people.

The American Poultry Association is the largest organization that publishes breed standards and that organizes and approves (or sanctions) shows in the United States. The organization publishes the American Standard of Perfection book every few years, with color pictures of the breeds; you can buy it directly from the association or from online sites, such as Amazon.

If you’re thinking of showing poultry, be sure to get this book and study the standards of the breeds you want to raise. You can find the group online or also contact them by mail or phone:

American Poultry Association
P.O. Box 306
Burgettstown, PA 15021
Phone: 724-729-3459

Considering the logistics of showing

Some shows are open only to members of the American Poultry Association, but others allow anyone to exhibit. Some state and local fairs hold poultry shows that may or may not be sanctioned by the APA. A few breed clubs and other smaller organizations hold poultry shows as well.

Joining the APA or another poultry club connects you to others interested in showing poultry and gets you information on when and where shows are held. You can often get lists of poultry breeders who are breeding show birds and selling breeding stock from these organizations. If you’re under 18 or you have children who are interested in showing poultry, you may want to join a local 4H or FFA club.

Showing chickens is much like showing dogs or horses: You need to start with good birds, learn how to present them well, and have a bit of luck to become a winner. Beginners may have to go to many shows and gain a lot of experience before they finally win big win.

If you’re interested in showing chickens, go to the APA website and look up shows being held near you so you can go to one or two. Farm magazines and even local newspapers sometimes carry advertisements for poultry shows, too. Other chicken owners may know about poultry shows coming up as well.

Excitement surrounds these shows, with all the gorgeous birds and the thrill of winning, but breeding and preparing birds for show involves plenty of work, along with a good deal of time and money spent traveling to shows. You may decide that showing isn’t your thing — or you may join the excitement and make showing chickens a hobby for the whole family.