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Showing Poultry in 4H

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by joneus, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. joneus

    joneus Songster

    Apr 2, 2011
    Ballston Spa
    My 6yo son started 4H this past month and has already asked about "doing chickens for 4H". As an ex-4H'er, I'm all for it... but my experience is with horses... I dont have a clue about showing chickens, LOL!

    Anyhow- my broody recently hatched a whole bunch of mixed bantams & I'm thinking about letting my son pick a few to call his own and use them for his 4H project. I've got a couple of questions, tho:

    1. Can 4H'ers show mutts? My adult chickens are EE's. The bantam chicks are a mix of cochin, serama, d'uccles and silkies (and there are 2 that are frizzled- not sure of their breed yet). I have no idea what most of them are & the few that I can identify are definitely mixed.

    2. How do you train a chicken to be a show bird?

    3. Any tips for which ones to encourage him to pick? Or should it just be totally up to him? Do their colors matter?

    4. The chicks are just over 2 weeks old and are still living with Mom on my front porch. Should I wait until she looses interest in them before letting him choose his chicks and start handling and caring for them? Or should I take them out & let him finish raising them in a brooder?

    I checked the extension office website, so I have a general idea of what the actual process is. I know I'm going to have to help him with most of this stuff, which isnt a problem. I just need to know where to start.


  2. Fleabuskitty

    Fleabuskitty Songster

    Feb 23, 2011
    1. If it is a show where the birds are judged according to the APA Standard Of Perfection, then no, because a bird can only be judge by the standard if there is a standard that it should meet, and there are no standard for mixes. If it is one of those meat or egg production "shows" (I don't know much about them, except for that some of my friends in 4H do "poultry judging" where they are taught to judge the quality of meat or the production of eggs or something), I'm not sure.

    2. You have to coop/cage train them, which means getting them used to being in a small show-type cage (usually about 24"x24") by having them live in there alone for a while and teaching them to allow people to lift them in and out of the cage easily. You should also get the bird used to bathing and grooming.

    3. If you want them to be friendly when they grow up, you should handle them often when they are small. That doesn't mean raising them in a brooder, just catching them and holding them. The mom and babies should be enclosed in a separate area from the rest of the flock, anyway, so that the chicks are safe from aggressive flock members, drafts, and predators.

    CALI CHICK Songster

    Apr 27, 2011
    Rio Linda, CA
    At 6yo, your son can do showmanship for sure. In "showmanship", the chickens don't have to be show-quality, but I'm not sure if they can be mutts. Showmanship is when the judge rates how the child handles his animal. So, if he has a RIR, he needs to be familiar with everything about RIR's, as well as basic "chicken anatomy" and chicken knowledge. The judge will ask the handler questions and the 4-H'er should know the answer.

    You'll want to join a 4-H group that is doing a 'Poultry Project' specifically -if there is one in your area. For example, my son is in the Poultry Project, Rabbit Project and Dog Obedience Project. The Poultry Project leader (which may end up being you[​IMG]) will guide the kids in learning about their chickens. 4-H sells curriculum/books for every project starting at around $4. Catalogs should be available at your extension office, but registration is done online so many things can be ordered over the internet too.

    Each project has monthly meetings where members learn basics, practice handling, showmanship or attend field trips. Then there is a monthly Community Club meeting where all the kids come together regardless of which projects they are in. Your 4-H group will be able to enter county and state fairs. Being part of 4-H has been a wonderful opportunity for my son and I'm sure your son will enjoy it too.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
  4. best chicken for showmanship is a bantam. i recommend looking up showmanship videos on youtube

    most shows dont allow mix breeds. some do. ull habe to check into the shows standards

    if its a APA show then the chicken has to meet the APA standards to qualify or place in the show
  5. Sorry, you cant show a mix. that is a imediate disqualification. I recomend a privet breeder. EE are a poor choise for show, as they are pretty, they dont have a standard coloring. PM me for some breeders in your area.
  6. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    For showmanship, ou can use any bird; it is the showman's knowledge that is judged, not the bird. For exhibition, it is the bird that is judged; usually for conformity to standards, but there are commonly production classes in 4H, in which case exhibition standards go out the window.
  7. 4HDad

    4HDad In the Brooder

    Jan 14, 2011
    West Central, Ohio
    One thing I have learned is that 4-H rules vary from state-to-state and often from county-to-county within a state. I recommend contacting your local extension office to get the details for how they run a poultry show at your fair.

  8. SunnyChic

    SunnyChic Keep The Sunny Side Up

    Mar 7, 2009
  9. cowchick11

    cowchick11 Songster

    Dec 30, 2011
    SW Washington
    Yes, each State is different and counties within the state have different rules at shows. Some things apply to all however. Make sure you get your son enrolled! There are hardcopy or electronic pieces to fill out for this. You should ask more questions at the Extension Office like: what is the enrollment deadline, do they have project specific clubs like poultry, are there some in my area, when do they meet and what age ranges are in each club, also see if you can get a contact for the 4-H Poultry Superintendent for the local fair. As an Extension Agent for 4-H I do not always know what each Supt. has set up in their department but I have a fair idea. The Poultry Supt. can help direct you and your child on some of the basics to prepare for show and a suitable club. They can also give you the low down on the local rules about cross breeds that you are asking here.
    6 years old is perfect to start a show career with chickens but make sure that is also an animal that is allowed to that age group in your county. Most small animals in our area are allowed to be shown by all age groups, its the bigger animals that have age limits. The younger kids in our area prefer bantams and pigeons and some call ducks.
    I am also working with the ABA/APA in my area to get more youth involved in purebred poultry and 4-H poultry. We are encouraging kids to move into purebreds but they do not have to have them here for 4-H.
    For learning, hopefully your new 4-H club will be a really good and active one where you and your son will learn together about showing and fitting and how to "train" your birds. You should also check out local, county, club, and state shows of the purebred type so that your son can watch other kids handle their birds and listen to the questions that are asked. There are also many great books out, some through 4-H are in the national catalog or online at the 4-HMall.org you can find the set of three plus a leader guide that has a lot of the basics including how to wash a chicken. They also just came out with The 4-H Guide to Raising Chickens. Both have really great photos.
    Hope your son has a fun time with his chickens, he should get to pick out his own, its his project!
  10. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    joneus, your son wants to participate in a competition. You are starting him off at a disadvantage if you send him out with a backyard mutt to compete against children with purebred show birds.

    A nice quality show bird cost less than enrolling your child in after school soccer. The "equipment" to show birds is very cheap for a hobby. Cheaper than just about any other hobby, except for perhaps collecting pine cones.

    Some breeders of show birds will even give a 4-H discount. Grit you teeth and pay the $25 or $30 it takes to purchase a bird that your child has a chance to win with. He will enjoy the showing experience much more if he doesn't have to listen to mockery about his sub-quality exhibit.

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