First Poultry Show last week. Need opinion on judging


In the Brooder
11 Years
Jun 14, 2008
My daughters (7 year old twins), did their first poultry show last week. Although they got first place and Best Female of Show...the judge marked them as utility. To the best of my knowledge these were pure Buff Orpingtons and Brahmas. Their parents won Best of Breed at another show just the year before. Is this a preference of what the judge likes or did I just get a bad batch? I checked out the standards and they matched.

The coordinators told us they were junk and should be killed. Not cool. They also suggested that my daughter's (yes they are seven) should purchase chickens at a show for $50-$100 if they were going to continue showing. This is primary 4-H showing. Is it just me or was she nuts ? I would think judges would base their level on the show at hand. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks
Yes, poultry show judges are quite insane. I'm surprised that some of them can find their way home. But thats just my opinion

I dont show birds myself, but Im wondering what your girls are going to learn by buying birds for $50-$100 and taking them to a show and showing them, and just killing their own birds, that it sounds to me were suitable enough to place in show categories of some sort?
I dont get the whole thing, your girls probably know more than me, and I've attended poultry shows for over 12 years.....but I would think they should be more involved in the care and upbringing of the birds, learn about the standard, raise them, care for them, teach them about their birds qualities, etc.....then show them...not just buy them ready to win and show them. Maybe thats okay for an ambitious breeder or adult, but I dont think thats how a child in 4H should learn to engage in showmanship.

Oh, yeah, I think the coordinator is nuts.

My opinion again.
I agree. My girls love their chickens. They have raised them since they were a day old. They sit in their coop with the hens on their lap. Plus, we did loose a couple this year. I think the raccoons scared them to death. They are protected, but the raccoons hang out at their cages at night and try to get in. Could you imagine if that was a $100 chicken. I would be wearing a raccoon scarf:lol:
i have never heard or seen a bird marked for utility not sure what that means. usually they r marked NW for not worthy if they r pet quality or hatchery stock but they r supost to not even allow those to be entered or r to dismiss them before judgeing from the show.

sounds like it was a booked show(everyone got something for showing, didn't matter quality) unfortunately ya see that alot in unsactioned shows. ea judge judges differently and i didn't know 4-h was that strict, here open shows r like that. u could show them at a different show with another judge and they may do better or worse ya never know what the judges r looking for.

they should have pulled u asside without the girls and said not to bring them back to show again due to them being pet quality or hatchery stock and explained to u what the dq's they had were, i have never been to a show that didn't explain why. telling u to cull them was rude and not needed it should have been handled differently i agree after all everyone knows chickens come first as pets.

i believe when they told u to purchase from the show they were telling u to buy from private reputable breeders who raised exhibition stock so the girls had quality stock to work with and had a better fair shot at showing next time. lol, if u think $100 is bad for a bird u'd hate to see what most of my stock has cost me.

i also wanted to add the girls should be proud they did their best and did great for their first show, congrats to both of them!! tell them to keep up the good work and don't let it bother them. i've had judges tell me i had hatchery stock rir's before and they placed in a booked show. ya know what there DQ was color was to light for the breed standards so after show i gave them to an elderly neighber to have for layers and companions. showing is to be for fun, experience and learning it's not how good or not good u did. my girls r happy at their new home and to me that's all that is important and some r even mom's now in their forever home.
Last edited:
I mostly lurk and read BUT I just had to post a reply to this. My son which is 10 also shows birds in 4H. We have NEVER paid over $10-$15 a bird. He has entered them in the county fair as well as the state fair. He has won with his birds and the judge has said nice things about them. I also am the asst. super for our county fair poultry barn so I get to go around with the judge and hear what he has to say about each bird. our judge is a APA and ABA sactioned judge so he know his stuff and he judges all over the country.

If you have hatchery chicks that is what he might have meant by utility. They are great for getting eggs and enjoying but for they are not always for exibition.
Show Quaility or Exibition Buff Orpingtons are HUGE!! they would make 2 of the production hens. NO JOKE!

My best advice is get the Standard of Perfection book and read up on what your birds are judged against (the standard) But by all means tell you girls they did a great job and don't gey rid of thier birds that they LOVE.
Just get more

We have "show birds" that we keep up and then we have our "farm chickens" that free range during the day. So we have the best of both worlds
Yes, it's a little more work but worth it. Right now all of our chickens are getting to be chickens.
Show season is over for us so even our "show birds" are getting to scratch and peck in the dirt.

I have invested a couple hundred dollars in my small flock of Standard Show Cochins. The last I bought was a black cockerel from starcochins($40). He was well worth it considering the chicks that he has produced with the best of my hens. A 'cull' from them will run $20 minimum as long as it has no DQ features. A truely show worthy bird will be $40-$50 each. I should have no problem selling them when they are 6-8 months old. The problem is that the only way to get what they are worth is to sell at the few shows or be willing to ship through USPS, which I will not do.

My standard Australorps are to standard, but are no where near what would be refered to as 'Show Quality'.

I think the thing that bugged my the most was the way they looked down their noses at us. I did not buy them from a hatchery. I was given ten one day old chicks from professional breeders. I would completely understand if I was at a "professional" poultry show. But primary 4-H for goodness sake. Anyhow...just had to get my grumbles out of my system. Thanks for all your feedback;)
Hi ChickenLady,

I totally understand how that would get under your skin. Nothing worse than snobby poultry people, IMO!

To answer your question, a "utility" bird is not a mutt or a "bad" chicken. It is usually a hatchery-bred bird that DOES meet the Standard in most aspects. However, since hatcheries place more emphasis on laying ability, hardiness, etc, than on looks, these birds are not usually top show quality. While a "utility" orpington bred by a hatchery and a "show quality" orpington from a private breeder's line may look nearly identical to the average backyard hobbyist, to a trained poulty expert (such as a judge) they are as different as night and day.

While I see that you got your birds from professional breeders, it may be possible that they haven't been working on their lines for long, therefore many of their birds might resemble "utility" birds more than "show" birds. I also know that many breeders are reluctant to sell their nicest birds for any less than "big money" and the birds they do sell are frequently culls.

In any case, it doesn't matter. It's ridiculous that someone should suggest that your girls' birds be killed. If they want to continue having fun showing their pets in 4-H, then they should do so with the birds they already own!

The only reason to spend $50+ on show quality breeding stock (and you can spend that on birds that are not necessarily even show birds, just decent breeding stock) from a reputable, show-winning private breeder would be if the girls want to be "hardcore" and compete in Open Class with the grown-ups at big shows. And it sounds a little early for that to me. They are only 7, for heaven's sake! You'd think these people would take that into account before opening their big mouths.
Last edited:
I feel for you!!!!!!!! I did my "first" show yesterday, going in having NO idea what to expect. I got my first time jitters out of the way. This was a double show with 3 judges there. I was quite content on the first show but was quite surprised on the second show. Of course I didnt get first in either show but one of the judges was extremely "picky".....I understand the point of the Standards of Perfection but this judge was actually packing a Standards book around with him and pretty much tore me apart on my birds. I guess Im glad I got the "worst" over and its back to the drawing boards for me...LOL:D

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom