Breeding quality vs show quality


9 Years
Feb 20, 2010
I've read several articles here and on the internet about show quality birds and breeding birds but don't quite understand the difference. It seems that if a bird is of breeding quality it would also be show quality. Can someone shed some light on the difference?


9 Years
May 2, 2010
I would rather have a flock of breeder birds, than one or two nice show birds. Breeders are the ones that can produce the "show quality" birds, even though they, themselves, may not possess the finer points/qualities of a show bird. The show quality birds are the "lucky ones", where a lot of the facets of the Standard of Perfection for their breed came together as close as it can get, or ideally anyway. The sad part is, usually, these birds can not reproduce themselves, so the use of the lesser birds, the breeders, have to come back into play. I've seen mediocre animals produce top winning stock, and top winning animals produce sheer crap! I would rather have a functional, typey, healthy, example of the breed; rather than a one shot, flash in the pan, show winner. That's just my opinion!
Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have a show quality animal, especially if you show. It would be even better if they could reproduce or improve on themselves... JMHO


10 Years
May 4, 2009
Shawnee, OKlahoma
There are several facets to this question, first the body type is not sacrificed in a good breeder or show bird the type defines the breed and is difficult to regain once lost. Color is whole different story. When the male and female are the same color pattern this makes things easier (Black, white) however when dealing with patterns and parti-colored birds you make color sacrifices in one breeder sex to achieve better color in the other. As an example of this, Columbian pattern: in order to get very well colored males you often need to use female color culls with black ticking on thier backs. This provides a better saddle stripe on the male. In the opposite direction to get clean backed hens you need to use a male that is very weak in saddle color. Both must be of proper size and type for the breed though.
Jan 9, 2009
Some people sell their birds who meet the standard, but are not the best examples of the breed as breeder quality,birds who meet the standard closer are considered SQ. Therefore they price the birds on those lines.
Having said that, we breed & show all over the eastern & middle of the country. And we breed from PROVEN show winning stock. Not 2nd, 3rd, 4th placed birds, but BB,RB,BV,&RV, as well as birds who place on Champion Row. Not 4H shows but APA/ABA shows such as Ohio National as well as other top shows. We usually go to 12 to 15 shows a year. Our SQ winning birds do reproduce well, and also reproduce winning birds. So saying that a SQ bird will not breed on is NOT true. We have several breeds of poultry & waterfowl that we breed so I'm not talking about one breed here. So if you want birds who more than just meet the standard, I would suggest that you invest in SQ stock from a proven winning flock. You can look through the year books of both the APA/ABA to see "who" has won what, and which color/breed they have won with, and contact them to get your stock from.


May 6, 2010
Cat Country, west KY/TN border
I'm not an expert, but in my understanding, Show Quality is a bird that comes as close as possible to achieving the standard set out in the Standard of Perfection for your country. The American Poultry Association sets the standard for US birds; the latest SoP is 2010. I bought a copy this spring, and it is fascinating. Chicken breeders are always trying to improve their flock to develop birds that are up to standard (if possible; the APA does make an occasional mistake). As someone said above, sometimes you make sacrifices in one area to make gains in another. But I and others are always striving for a healthy, disease-resistant, productive bird, whatever the outward appearance.


9 Years
Feb 20, 2010
Thanks for all the info and answers to my question. If I understand correctly, then, breeding is a more complicated process than simply having a pretty bird that looks like it should, according to the Standard of Perfection, in that the goal is produce as many that do. Whereas a show bird meets those qualities, and may or may not produce offspring that looks like itself (genetics) that can be used for breeding purposes.

I have a moderate understanding of human genetics, having been in the medical field for a number of years, but very little understanding of chicken genetics. I get the recessive / dominant gene part. The part I have yet to learn is which traits are which, and which are fatal. I'm not looking into breeding or showing anything at this time. As per my original post, am simply looking for a better understanding between the two.

Thanks again.


12 Years
Jan 14, 2008
then, breeding is a more complicated process than simply having a pretty bird that looks like it should, according to the Standard of Perfection

You said more here than you may realize. Breeding chickens, or any other bird or animal, is much more complicated that putting a male & female together & hoping for the best. Sometimes that approach will have a good outcome but generally it will not.
You really have to understand the breed & have a basic grasp of genetics. Acquiring these takes doing som homework & frankly suffering some setbacks. That's where the fun is though. If it was simple where would the challenge be?​


12 Years
Jan 10, 2009
NW Indiana
Brody's Broodello :

You can look through the year books of both the APA/ABA to see "who" has won what, and which color/breed they have won with, and contact them to get your stock from.

That's a very interesting idea. Sad to say, I don't have any yearbooks myself, and don't think the local libraries here would either.

If I wanted to read through APA yearbooks from the last 10 years for a research project, what would you say is the most likely way I would be able to access them?​


In the Brooder
8 Years
Aug 28, 2011
I don't know about breeding chickens, but in dairy goats (which I DO know), it is the difference between phenotype and genotype. I would much rather have an animal that reproduces itself than a drop dead gorgeous one that always produces offspring that don't come close to the parent.

In goats, an animal that has been linebred will be more prepotent....more likely to put its stamp on the kids. When I see a herd whose breeding program is based on bloodline of last year's National Show winners, so that the pedigrees read like a who's who in National Shows....I do not buy. Such an animal is so egregiously outcrossed that it is never going to throw consistent offspring and the breeders don't have a real plan for their herd! They are just breeding in whatever random lines are popular.

Just my opinion and it possibly does not parallel chicken breeding.


11 Years
May 29, 2009
Sleepy Eye, MN
There are also circumstances where a bird may be 'altered' in some way.... for example: a ripped wattle or comb from fighting, toenail ripped off from being on wire, a bent toe due to a hatching issue, etc. The bird might not be showable, but will still be usefull in a breeder pen. Even a bird that is seriously out of condition from poor care/diet, molting, etc. Some of those birds may be show quality after a few months, but at that point they aren't ready to hit the show ring right now.

There's also alot of minor details like toe spacing that usually don't make a bit of a difference in the breeding pen, but is only looked at for showing. You have to learn what faults you can work with and what ones show up in the next generation

sjarvis made a good point about breeding for color....quite a few colors need that system to achieve the proper colors. Namely partridge too..

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom