Can Meat Birds win "Best of Show"?


10 Years
Jun 17, 2009
West Central WI

Please follow the link to a discussion of a recent show event. Post all replies there. Thanks!

Our County Fair has the usual selection of large and bantam SOP breeds. It also has market classes: Roasters, Broilers and your own meat-type crosses. Broilers are described as 3 young birds, 2-5 pounds each, heavier is better as long as you do not go over or under the range. Uniform birds, Firm fleshed and clean/well-managed. The boys worked hard to meet that description.

The judge at our fair found that my son's broiler pen more closely matched the standard for a broiler pen than any SOP bird their matched the breed's SOP description. He therefore wanted to give the "Best of Show" to the broiler pen. No one had heard of this before, and some families were upset. My sons and I explained the long-standing tradition of our show where the Champion Broilers would be auctioned for a great deal of money and "Best of Show" really needed to go to an SOP breed individual animal rather than a pen of future-meals that are only 42 days old. The judge graciously honored our request, and gave "Best of Show" to a very nice white silkie instead. We have no regrets.

I do wonder if the market classes are generally allowed to win "Best of Show". I had never seen it at any County Fair. What do others do? What do you think? It seems logical as a thought process, but gives way too much credit for the amount of work and time involved. I might feel differently if we were responsible for the breeding and genetics of the birds, but the chicks were given to us to raise and present. We may have done that well, but "Best of Show" seems rather higher praise than deserved.

In any case, we are VERY flattered and pleased to know we did so well, and will use the auction money to improve our poultry project work.


12 Years
Jan 14, 2008
As long as the placement didn't violate any show rule as established by the Fair I think it would have been fine. Since Fairs are intended to showcase agricultural achievements it might even have made more sense than giving the award to a Silkie. Chances are the owner of the Silkie wasn't responsible for it's breeding & genetics either.


8 Years
Jun 27, 2011
South Puget Sound
So, does that mean that Best of Show should go the Pot-Bellied pig instead of a pig that is going to be someone's dinner? I know some Herefords that are groomed beyond belief by 4-H and FFA kids, are you saying that they should not be eligible for Best in Show because their project animal is going to be dinner?

I think that Best in Show should be judged by how closely an animal matches the Standard that is written for it.


10 Years
Jun 17, 2009
West Central WI
Well. I re-read the rules of our fair.

There is nothing in there saying an exhibitor cannot buy a fine bird the morning of the fair and show it. Such a bird could win best of show and and be completely within the rules, even if against the spirit of the competition. There is a vague rule that "the birds should be representative of the youth's work" but as there is no specific timeline stated, there is no solid ground stating the birds had to be in the exhibitor's care for a month, 6 months or a year before exhibition..

So...the rules would allow Best of Show to go to even less work than we did for 42 days on the broilers. I suppose we should have accepted Best of Show. I have found nothing in the rules stating that we could not.

But I still have no regrets. WE know we did a good job and it was recognized by the impartial judge. And some other families feel better than they did. Small towns don't need any additional drama.

The superintendent of the department will discuss with the members how they want it handled in the future, and the rules will be adjusted so there is no confusion.

The pig analogy is interesting. At our fair the potbellies are shown as pets, because the swine project is strictly a market project.

Maybe that is the issue. Our fair looks at the fancy breeds and maket classes quite distinctly. Maybe it was like giving "Grand Champion Pet" to the largest market-bound young male pig. That would be hard to swallow.


10 Years
Mar 22, 2009
Southern Wisconsin
This used to happen quite frequently at my county fair. In fact, this year I had two birds in the running for best of show and they brought the pen of roasters out for evaluation by the "fancy bird" judge while the judge who had been judging the market classes looked over the champions of the other classes to select best of show. I know several years ago a pen of roasters won best of show, and a pen of turkeys won it once also. I do not remember anyone getting upset about it. If they did, they did not talk too loudly, in any case.

The quality of the "fancy bird" section of our poultry show has improved greatly since I first started 4-H (six years ago now) and has become quite competetive, especially for the championships. However, the market poultry also deserve to be recognized and I would not feel hurt at all that ONE judge (or even two) felt that the work I had put into my show birds was not quite as good as the care and time someone else took to condition, select, groom, and present a pair of market chickens or turkeys. I have done it before, and it is much more difficult. There is no written standard to go by, the birds poop an insane amount and are a pain to clean and keep clean. Anyone who has the patience to clean them and select a pair of meat birds good enough to win Best of Show really deserves it. I commend you and your sons for being so selfless.

Also, if you put a different judge in the barn and ask him or her to judge the same classes, the placings might just come out different. It's only one judge's opinion of a particular group of birds on one day. If people cannot handle that, they might not want to show poultry any more.


7 Years
Aug 1, 2012
Actually a little girl won Grand champion in the Market bird class this year and received Best of Show as well. However we have a best of show for the market and the open. I think if your the best, than your the best. But I know how tough people can take competition such as a county fair. haha
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