How to get started showing chickens in 4-H?

thecreekhouse

Songster
Feb 26, 2015
306
344
161
East Tennessee
Hi. I am a backyard chicken enthusiast with one Cochin hen, 2 Ameracauna pullets (buff and splash) and an Olive Egger. I believe (as does my pullet’s breeder) that my buff Ameracauna appears to be of quality where it’s at least giving it a shot exhibiting her - even if it’s only just for fun.

I have two little girls ages 8 and 11 who are very interested in getting involved in 4-H showing (including showmanship) hens at poultry shows and state and county fairs. Unfortunately we feel at a total loss as to how to get started. When I showed dairy cattle and horses and did cattle and equine judging in 4-H as a girl myself, I was lucky enough to have a kind and experienced adult mentor for each area of exhibition. These awesome folks helped me learn the rules and standards of exhibition, directed me to the appropriate competitions, and taught me everything I needed to know about showmanship. As a result, I was very successful and had a huge amount of fun.

I have checked with the county extension agent where we live to find out whether there is a local 4-H poultry group but there isn’t one; there is only a 4-H livestock group in general, mixing poultry projects with sheep, goats, cattle and horses. In short, it seems that very little attention is given to bringing 4-Hers along with poultry knowledge and experience. The only 4-H poultry project that the 4-H extension agent has been able to tell me about is the annual “chick chain” project where 4-Hers take in 9-18 chicks in the spring and raise them to be sold at the state fair in the fall. We can’t participate in chick chain because our coop simply isn’t big enough to house 9-18 extra chicks for 6 months. So my question for all of you with experience in exhibiting poultry and possibly with 4-H poultry projects is how we can find a way to learn the ropes and get involved with 4-H poultry exhibition and showmanship. I feel like we really need a mentor but I have no idea how to find one. Do any of you have thoughts on any of this?
 

Trish1974

Araucana enthusiast
Mar 16, 2016
2,880
6,416
532
North Central IN
My Coop
My Coop
Our 4-H was set up similar to that, with all the livestock groups (except horse and pony) having one general monthly meeting. However, there were still separate barns and separate leaders for poultry, dairy, beef and sheep/goats. Did the extension office say if each group had individual leaders? I would be surprised if they didn't.

Unfortunately I fear as though 4-H is slowing dying out. I was a farm kid and 10 year member of 4-H and I learned so much from my experiences showing beef cattle and horse and pony. It also kept me so busy in the summer time I didn't have time to goof off and get in trouble! But with the changing times and everything being online and electronic based, probably makes for a grim future for 4-H clubs. Good luck.
 

thecreekhouse

Songster
Feb 26, 2015
306
344
161
East Tennessee
I would join the 4 H livestock group as a starter. Does the breeder of your Ameraucana show ? Is there a possibility of engaging the breeder as a mentor ?
My Ameracauna breeder is only in the 3rd or 4th year of attempting to bring her breeding program up to show quality. She’s invested in very high quality breeding birds and has become NPIP certified. In consultation with other Ameracauna breeders who DO show, she feels like she’s beginning to produce some birds that are of potential show quality. But she’s never yet exhibited any of her birds and somewhat like me, she feels like she needs a mentor to help her learn the ropes with getting started with exhibiting.
 

Feather Hearts

Crowing
Oct 4, 2016
1,042
2,596
317
Northland, New Zealand
So, the first thing I would suggest, is to buy a copy of the most recent edition of the American Standard Of Perfection, it will show you what to look for in your birds. Then I would suggest getting a few more high quality birds, so that your kids won't be upset if one bird doesn't win, it can be very disappointing for younger children.
Next you should find out about your nearest and soonest poultry show, you can take your kids just to have a look, and talk to some more experienced breeders. Often there will be birds for sale at poultry shows, if you see anything you like then that's great.
I'm still breeding my birds to the SOP, but I have a great mentor helping me.
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions, I can probably help :)
 

centrarchid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
24,164
13,807
696
Holts Summit, Missouri
I am a 4H project leader for poultry and have done other things as well. Do contact your breeder as a potential advisor. Also check with neighboring counties. I serve 4 with project I deal with and not all the extension people know I exist.
 

ChickNanny13

Crossing the Road
6 Years
Jun 23, 2013
8,691
12,241
957
The Big Island/Hawaii
My GrandDaughter (12) was determined to get into a FFA at school (FL) ... The class was full but she kept at the teacher & she got in :celebrate Her first project was to be a piglet but due to some deadline issues will be showing 2 adorable Silkies this coming Feb. Yes it seem 4H is not what it was in "the old days" :hit

Do an internet search Future Farmers of America, there is a website and go from there.
 
Feb 4, 2020
101
179
73
I know this is an older post, however I've just joined the BYC scene. My son shows chickens in 4-H and I must say, in our area the 4-H program is thriving. Our numbers are up from last year and the poultry division is also up. We are in a rural area, so this may account for this? I hope you have found a mentor! I just wanted to say that expressing your need/wants to the extension agent would be a great idea. Our poultry club leader was able to add two new categories into our 4-H fair poultry division that weren't there previously because of an expressed need from the 4-Hers. So, in short, I would keep in contact with the extension agent, there may be other families who are in the same boat and want to see more of a poultry division as well.
 

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