How To Show Chickens

How To Show Chickens
How To Show Chickens

Being prepared makes all the difference

Picture this: You walk into the 4-H or county fair show ring with your prized poultry, strut your stuff for the judges, and walk away with the coveted blue ribbon! Well, that could be a reality if you know how to properly prepare.

Pick your chicken

The first step to showing chickens? Get a show chicken! Not all chickens are bred for the bright lights of the stage, a lot goes into breeding superstars. Here are the top contenders for showing:

Wyandotte: The stunning feathers on this bird will make heads turn! They are also very stoic and handle stressful situations with ease… a must-have attribute in a bustling atmosphere.

Orpington: Black coloring was actually bred into these chickens specifically for showing. Their plump appearance, soft feathers and cuddly attitude make this chicken a very popular 4H prospect.

Silkie: Of course, everyone loves these fuzzy little balls of fluff! Bred mostly as an ornamental addition to the flock, these little fellas are simply adorable.

Cochin: Stately and very fluffy with loads of colorful and soft feathers, these birds were simply born for the spotlight.

Brahma: Seems like a lot of show chickens have a LOT of feathers. Brahmas are another breed that flaunt a unique tutu-like plumage.

Faverolle: This chicken boasts a poofy beard. These birds are rather rare, which makes them even more desirable in the showring.

Sebright: If you see this little bantam bird, you just know it was meant to strut its stuff. Very upright, with bright, coppery feathers and an alert expression; you just can’t help but appreciate their sassy attitude.

Train your chicken

The next step is to make sure your chicken can handle a busy, noisy, and often chaotic atmosphere while being scrutinized by discerning judges and waiting around in small cages. That’s a lot to ask of any animal! Being prey animals, chickens are especially susceptible to just saying “no thank you” and scooting themselves out scary situations.

Proper training is imperative to preventing stressed birds.

The first step: Handle your chicken a lot. Gently stretch out their wings, massage their toes and combs, pet their heads, etc. Get them accustomed to being handled and touched everywhere. Judges will be looking closely at your chicken’s wing feathers, comb and foot health, head tufts, vents, even their beaks and eyes. Your bird needs to be used to this kind of interaction so they don’t get stressed and flail around.

Secondly, train your chicken to accept being kept in a confined space (like a small dog kennel) for periods of time. Shows can be busy and cramped, so training your bird to relax in a smaller cage will allow them a bit of zen in a crazy place! This can be done by introducing them to a smaller cage slowly and gradually increasing their time spent in there. Treats often help.

Countdown to showtime

Spa day. Most chickens are not terribly excited about water, so start early in their lives to get them used to the pampering. A chicken spa day should happen 3 or 4 days before a show so their natural oils have a chance to return and allow chickens to preen.

Cleaning includes a bath in warm water, soaps made especially for showing (they are very mild and rinse clean) and fluffy towels to allow your chicken to dry completely. Finger comb their feathers and use the palm of your hand to lie them down straight. Now is your chance to inspect your bird from head to toe for lice or mites.

Beak and nail trimming is next. Use a fingernail trimmer to very carefully clip hooks or scaley flakes from the beak. Toenails should be trimmed flat and even. Have a clotting powder handy in case you get a little too zealous! A quick massage with Vaseline will keep toes, beaks and feet moisturized and shiny.


Things to remember while in the ring—hold your bird in your dominant hand, make eye contact with the judge, listen carefully to the judge and answer any questions. Finally, smile! Remember, this is fun!

Showing chickens is not just about how pretty or rare your chicken is. It is about showmanship on your part, the health of your bird, how well you prepared your bird and the bond you have with your pet.

Take care of your chicken, spend a lot of time with them, and have fun!

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