How to Prepare a Chicken for Showing

Ask yourself. Are you ready to show a chicken? How do you like your show chicken? --Clean and purdy!? Well if so, you've reached your viewing destination.

How to Prepare a Chicken for Showing
Whether your three or thirty, age doesn't matter. You can show an amazing chicken that's ready for the show by following this handy guide.

Before You Begin:

Have the following items at hand:
  • Your Show Chicken
  • A Dry Place with Fresh Bedding
  • At Least Three Days Before Your Show
  • Something to bathe your bird in (ie. a bucket, sink, large mixing bowl)
  • Non-Harsh Shampoo (ie. Dog Shampoo or Baby Shampoo labeled "no tears" that the shampoo won't stink anybody's eyes)
  • Q-Tips/Ear Swabs
  • A Large Towel
  • A Hair Dryer
  • A Nail Filer
  • Nail Clippers
  • White Vinegar
  • Access to clean water
  • A Small Scrub Brush or Old Toothbrush
  • Moisturizing Lotion, Cocoa Butter or Vaseline
  • Lots of Knowledge about the Breed You're Showing (can be done after preparation or during dry off time)
  • Patience
  • Poultry Spray Protector (optional)

Today I'll be using my Barred Rock Bantam hen to demonstrate. Start with warming your water up to were your bird can get comfortable at a lukewarm temperature.

Filling the Tub with Water

I'm just using one bucket today but some people will use three buckets, you can still use one bucket and just dump the water out a few times during the rising stage.

Next, place your bird in the warm water, let them get used to it and then take your cup or hose and soak your bird to remove the dirt.

Here Come the Suds

After your bird is wet, you can add your shampoo that you massage into their feathers for a deep clean. Wash them with shampoo three times, after each rinsing the bird off each time.

The Final Rinsing

Go ahead and take your bird and give them a final rinse off and make sure there isn't any shampoo left on the bird.

Towel Drying

Now is the time to dry off your bird. You can do this by first wrapping the bird into the towel like a blanket and them stroking the feathers from head to tail. You can your show chicken sit here for a few minutes to relax if you'd like.

Applying Lotion to the Comb

While you're waiting on you bird to dry off a bit, you can apply your lotion now. You can use cocoa butter or Vaseline as well. Take a little bit and place it on your thumb and pointer finger and massage your chickens comb, waddles and earlobes until you can't see the lotion anymore. This helps your bird look lively at the show.

Go ahead and take your bird to where you'll be blow drying them. If this is outside, let them sit tight as you get your blow dryer.

Hair Dryer Drying

Say that three times fast, after you've towel dried your bird, you are ready for the part most chickens either love or hate. Purdy the Barred Rock loves it. Turn your dryer's settings on warm and low, or high if your bird doesn't mind. Keep the dyer at a safe distance of a wing's width away or about 8 inches (about 20 centimeters) so you don't burn your bird or make it too hot.

Cleaning Up The Face

Take your tweezers and very carefully puck some face feathers on your bird if needed, some birds have naturally featherless faces but other will need to be plucked for a chic look.

By this point, your bird should be mostly dry and might even be relaxing.

Cleaning The Eyebrows, Comb and Legs

Take a Q-tip or two and rinse in water then scrub any extra dirt above the eye, on the comb and feet that wasn't removed during the bath. This gives your bird an even cleaner look. To clean the hocks and toes, pick up the bird and hold it in a foot ball pose with its head tucked towards your back as you cradle the bird and lift up each of its legs to clean up.

At this point, you can also clip your birds nails with the same cradling football hold as you trim the nails back. If your bird has sharp nails you should use your nail file for a smooth edge. If you have clipped your bird's nail to far use a towel or toilet paper to apply pressure until the nail stops bleeding. If you have anti-bleed powder, use that, some people will also use a little bit of flower but all of the above does the same thing to help clot the bleeding nail.

Cage Drying

Place your newly washed bird in a clean cage with fresh bedding and wait a few hours for him or her to dry. If it's cold where you live, let them dry out of the wind and in non cold area and provide water if needed. If it's hot outside provide water and shade or dry your bird off inside or out of the weather.

A Few Hours Later...

A Nice Purdy Bird, Purdy's a Pretty Barred Rock Bantam after her show prep :)

That concludes today's How To. Feel free to post questions, suggestions and more below, don't be a shy fellow! Good Luck at the show too!

Other Helpful Showing Articles: Knowledge.pdf

You'll want to touch up on your poultry knowledge, walking your bird, posing your bird and having a cage trained bird as well! This article has been written by a Utah State 4-H winner (1st place) in 4-H Demonstrations (7/17/13).
About author
Whittni has Bachelor's degree in Agriculture with minors in Art and Communication. In her free time, she enjoys studying flock behavior and hopes to train as a poultry judge in the future.

Her favorite animals? Chickens of course! Whittni would like to revolutionize the outside stigma of poultry keeping and help economise backyard flock keeping. She also enjoys sewing, crafts, and traveling abroad.


I've showed dogs for 30 years and have always heard that baby shampoo is very drying, as babies have oily scalps, would this be a problem? I have a B&G macaw and there is actual avian shampoos on the market, since I have this would it work? I am not questioning your knowledge, as I know absolutely nothing about showing poultry and am here to learn, Thank you
Thanks so much for this info!
I'm starting to show my chickens next year in FFA and I seriously have no clue how to prepare them! This helps alot!
I use the no tear baby shampoo on Silkie Bantams in particular, but I haven't had a problem.
i cant believe how she is just sitting there. She is like a lady at a day spa, she sure does like some pampering! :) I have 2x cockerels and maybe 2x pullets to prepare for a coming show and the boys are the biggest complainers haha. Ive had daily interaction with them since they were born and the cockerels make such a fuss when i pick them up for a cuddle. Hopefully all goes well. Your step by step is so helpful, thank you! I'm just nervous about the beak and claw trimming to be honest, eeek! Washing and drying, not a problem, im a hairdresser by trade haha
@Zoom-Zoom- the shampoo I used never really a difference, its sole purpose was to remove the dirt from under the leg scales and dander from the feathers. Pet shampoo works wonders but is sometimes more expensive than people shampoo. In the demo above, you can see the white pet shampoo I used and that helped bring out the whites and added a little bit of gloss.
Thank you for the great post. Which tranquilizer did you use again? I think with my 10 lb Cochin roos, we should start practicing a couple of months before the show.

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