Good Breeeds for a first time 4-H'er


10 Years
Mar 9, 2009
Tuscola County, Michigan
My oldest DD is considering showing turkeys and chicken at the 4-h fair this year. A dear friend of mine has offered to let her keep the birds at her farm and as long as DD comes to help take care of the bird twice weekly, she can payback for the feed and stuff from her premium/auction check. Who can turn that offer down!!! What would be good breeds for a first time poultry shower to use. I know we have to get market birds for the auction and I think she said we also have to a show bird also for showmanship to be able to be in the auction. What do you suggest would be good bird breeds to get?
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A good bird for first time showers are jersey giants; brahmas and cochins. I am a leader in our 4h program and those are the ones the kids seem to enjoy and have success the most. I really like the jerseys. They are very docile with the kids eventhough they get quite big. We have jerseys around 20lbs.
My daughter started out showing cochins (large size). Her one hen actually fell asleep waiting to be judged. My daughter was just stroking her and that's all it took. Very calm, laid back chickens.
Stick with a bantam. Big birds are difficult to handle even for big kids. Game breeds (Modern and OE games, quality show orientals) are the best in my opinion. They need little training to show well, but they can be a little much for beginners. Wyandottes and Cochins are very sweet and would work well for a beginner.
I showed chickens as a 4-h'er for 10 years, and I will tell you my opinion. The best showmanship birds I had were a Dutch Rooster, Silkie Hen, and BANTAM Cochin Hen. If you get these birds young and work with them every day, they will become your pets and will not try and walk away at the table. Many 4-H'ers get Old English to show, but I never liked the way they looked. You need to remember during showmanship you are holding the chicken up in the air, and need to stay still and watch the judge. The last show I saw 2 months ago, the junior winner actually had the bird in her hand showing the beak for almost 10 mintues. Try holding a 5 pound bird up like that for 10 minutes, you will wish you had a bantam.

Now, if you are doing a meat pen for an auction, I would go with something that is a duel purpose bird. If you go into the very large breeds, they won't be full size, as some of those take 18-24 months to be fully raised. I would look at ones that are pretty and show well (in the pen) and will also be able to sell as meat, like wyandotts and Rocks. I don't know much about your auctions, but we could sell show birds single, a trio (Cockeral , 2 pullets), a pen of three egg layers or a pen of three meat roos. Talk to your 4-H leaders about that.

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