Showing chickens


11 Years
Mar 2, 2008
Gibsonville, NC
I was thinking about showing some of my chickens at the dixie classic fair. What all do you have to do to show chickens? Do you have to leave them at the fair grounds for a few days? Is there anything else I need to know about showing chickens?

Thanks for any help to my questions.
I'd love to get some feedback on this too. I've been to two big shows & observed the birds in their cages that were being shown, but I left both times with no conceptual idea of what showing actually entails. Does the bird owner ever come in contact with judges or do the judges simply walk around the hall observing the birds independently? I would love the breakdown of what happens at a show when you are, in fact, showing. I left feeling as if showing must be a really passive thing - stick your bird in a cage & then wait & see what happens. What confuses me is hearing from others that they learned a lot about how to show from talking to the judges. If that's the case, there must be some interaction, right?

Anyway, call me clueless.
(Glad that we're past that 4/1 joke, becuase I know what my tagline would say.)

When I went to the show last year the judges walked qround and came back and awarded the ribbons. After that people walked back there and talked to the judges. But thats the only part I know about showing.
My son showed at a couple of poultry shows to practice showmanship for 4-H. Showmanship is only for the kids at the shows we have been to.

The adults check in their birds, get them all cleaned up and put in their cages.

Then all the birds are judged, and the grand champions are taken to the winner's table. Depending on the poultry club, prizes and trophies are passed out at the end of the show.

The birds do stay at the show for the duration.

The exhibitors usually talk to the judges after all the judging is done. Especially if they question the judges marks.

There are usually birds for sale, and you can talk to other exhibitors or breeders if you have questions about the breed or the standard of the bird.

People who show at these clubs breed their own birds, so they can be very competitive.

It is a passive show for the exhibitors, but they put a lot of time and effort into these birds before and after the shows.

Hope this helps.
It helps a lot! Thanks for the response -it clears up all of the things I've been wondering about & makes showing seem a lot less daunting.

I know that we had to leave our birds there for both days. It was a lot of driving for us, too.

And for the fair, we have to leave our birds there for 7 days. We are camping there for the week, since there is a lot of 4-H activities going on, and it is a long drive, also.

If you decide to show, have fun with it. It is kind of fun to see what the judges think of your birds. You also get to see what the champion birds look like.

Ours may not be grand champions, but we enjoy looking at the other birds and learning from the other exhibitors. And my son gets ribbons for 1st-3rd place.
I have been showing my birds for about 2 years now. I do bring them to APA shows and also fairs. If you're showing at a fair it's pretty simple, some fairs you have to register your birds before and some have walk-in entries. You leave your birds there and come pick them up when the fair is over, you don't have to go there every day. The birds are also fed and watered there. Before a show to get your birds ready you can cage train them, so they are not skidish around the judge, and also so they are use to being in a cage, and aren't slouched over. You can start cage training about 2 weeks before the show. Find a cage that is about the size of the ones at the fair. Put your bird in there so they become accustomed to it. You also would want to handle your bird 2-3 times a day, as the judge would. When you put a bird in a cage, always do it head first, the same if you are taking it out. So when you are handling a bird you take it out of the cage head first, with your left palm(or right if you are left handed), your middle and ring find between the birds legs. Then look at their feet, wings, head, whole body, just like the judge would do. This gets them use to being handled so when judge day comes they aren't showing poorly and will let the judge handle them with ease. Also 1-2 days before the show you should wash your bird. I bought special chicken shampoo from MMH, but a light detergent would do just fine. If you are washing a number of birds, the multi-tub method is best (a soaping tub & 2-3 rinse tubs). If you only have a few to wash, it can be done
in the bathtub (large birds) or sink (bantam chickens and ducks). In either case, the area in which the birds
are to be washed should be 80¡F-90¡F and free from drafts. You should have cages to place the birds in
after they are washed. If the birds will be returned to floor pens after they are washed, it is important to
place plenty of clean straw or shavings on the floor to keep the birds from becoming soiled again.
Multi-tub method
Items required:
• Detergent. Some detergents make feathers dry
and brittle. Recommended detergents include
Lux flakes, Ivory, Cheer or Casteel soap.
• Vinegar
• Bluing
• Sponge
• Soft, old toothbrush and tooth picks
• Four washing tubs
• Optional: 50% malathion wetable powder
The multi-tub method requires four tubs for
white birds and three for all others. To save strain on
your back, it is best to place them on boxes or
benches. The first two tubs should be filled with
warm water (95°F) and the third with water at room
The first tub is used for the actual cleaning of the
birds. Soap or detergent is added to the tub. Make a
good suds before putting the bird into the water.
Grasp the bird with both hands and lower it gently
into the water, holding the wings so they cannot be
flapped. With the bird standing on the bottom of the
tub, release one hand but hold the bird firmly with the
other. With the free hand, gently move the feathers
on all parts of the body so the soap and water will
penetrate to the skin. Then with a small brush,
sponge, or your hand, work the soapy water through
the feathers. Make sure to rub the feathers from base
to tip to prevent feather breakage. Do not put the
bird's head under water.
While the bird is still in the first tub, take a soft,
old toothbrush and scrub legs gently to remove any
dirt or molting scales. Malathion (1 1/4 ounces of 50%
malathion wetable powder or emulsifiable
concentrate per gallon of water) can be added to the
wash water to help rid the birds of any external
When the plumage has been thoroughly washed,
transfer the birds to the second tub containing a small
amount of vinegar and thoroughly rinse out as much
of the soap as possible. The vinegar will help remove
the soap. It is important to remove all the soap,
otherwise the feathers will stick and be streaked.
For birds other than white, the third tub should
contain plain water and a fourth tub is not required.
For white birds, the third rinse tub should contain a
small amount of bluing (for example, Boraten), just
enough to give the water a slight blue color. It is
important not to get the water too blue or it will give
the plumage a bluish tinge. The bluing helps whiten,
condition, and give the feathers a sheen. Too much
bluing may dye the feathers. White birds are then
placed in a fourth tub, with plain water, for a final
When the washed bird is removed from the final
rinsing, the plumage should be dried as much as
possible. Work as much water as possible out with
the hands, then dry with a towel. After the birds are
thoroughly dry, you can polish their feathers with a
pure silk cloth.
The birds should be placed in a drying cage in a
warm room. Birds cannot stand excessive heat, so do
not place them too close to a heat source. Take care
that the birds do not soil their plumage during the
drying process. If two or more birds have been
washed, keep them separated until dry.
A bird can be washed in 15 to 20 minutes,
although it may take 12 to 18 hours for it to dry.
Birds should dry slowly for best results, however a
hair dryer can be used carefully to hasten drying. If
you are grooming loosely feathered birds like Cochin
or Silkie chickens, using a hair dryer will help puff
out the feathers. A hair dryer also works well on
crests. Most breeds, though, look better if they dry
slowly. Fluffing plumage with a hair dryer can be
downright disastrous in tight-feathered breeds such as
Cornish or Old English Game.
Crested breeds need more grooming than other
birds. The crest especially needs a great deal of
attention. After washing the body plumage, hold the
bird by the legs, allowing the head to hang down.
Submerge the crest feathers keeping the eyes above
the water, working the suds into the topknot until it is
well lathered. In the case of an extremely dirty crest,
sprinkle a few drops of mild liquid soap into the head
feathers. However, no amount of washing will
brighten a crest that is yellow, brassy or dry from too
much sun.
After the bird has been washed and dried,
examine it to make sure no dirt remains under the
scales. If some is found, it should be removed with a
toothpick. A small piece of cloth moistened with
baby oil, vitamin E oil, or olive oil should be rubbed
over the comb, wattles, beak, and shanks of the birds.
A mixture of equal parts of alcohol, glycerin, and
olive oil makes an excellent cleaning and polishing
solution for shanks, feet, comb and wattles. Do not
apply too much as the plumage may become stained.
Buff the head and leg parts with a clean, soft rag until
all the oil has been worked in, taking great care not to
get oil on any feathers.

Showing is a lot of work, but it really is alot of fun, and very rewarding. I hope you give it a try!

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