Choosing show chicken breeds for your journey into the arena of poultry exhibitions might be as overwhelming as learning about genetics. However, with a few simple and basic guidelines, you can be well on your road to victory.
To begin, avoid deluding yourself by pursuing the perfect show chicken breed. Selecting a suitable breeding stock can be challenging; being too fussy might be the difference between wishing to enter the show and definitely doing so.
Experts recommend choosing a general physique, attending big poultry exhibitions, and observing what arouses your attention in the cages for purchase. Being adaptable is critical, especially if you’re a beginner.
Today, many show chicken breeds persist primarily for the sake of entertainment. They were formerly used as egg layers or meat providers, or both. But superior breeds eventually supplanted them. The tradition of exhibiting chickens keeps the survival and existence of a large number of these breeds. Additionally, they make incredible yard decorations and pets.
How to Raise a Quality Show Chicken
To be sure, it helps to start with a good strong stock. You may be able to track down excellent bloodlines through professional breeders. But always bear in mind that not every chicken will be a show champion even with the finest bloodlines, even for seasoned exhibition competitors.
When you’ve acquired your stock, eventually you will feel the need of wanting to give them quality and high-grade food and may even want to measure your chickens regularly throughout their growth to ensure they’re gaining weight at a healthy rate. Ensure that you are knowledgeable enough about the breed standards to understand what the judges and evaluators are searching for a chicken.
These criteria include factors such as size, mass, colors of legs and earlobes, type of comb, and toe count. And also occasionally include factors such as the count of spikes on a chicken’s comb—the form of the physique—the level of how tight or loose the feathering.
And even the direction of the tail feathers. You would not want a slender chicken in a category or breed that is supposed to be massive—or a massive chicken in a breed that is supposed to be slender.
It is important to take extra care of the chickens you have identified as your most fabulous options, it is normal to feel of wanting them to grow them in dirt-free environments. But you still need to be vigilant for anything that may damage plumage conditions, such as mites, ticks, lice, stress, and anything around that can possibly rip or destroy plumes.
Additionally, acclimating them to transportation and handling so that exhibition day will be less strange to them—this way, the chickens will keep a cool head for easy evaluation and examining whenever the judges and examiners arrive.
Numerous show competitors are bathing their chickens and applying a feather conditioner or enhancer on show day to improve the shine of the plumage. You may clip nails, apply moisturizer on the wattles and comb, and even shine the beaks.
Also, keep in mind that when your chickens return home after the exhibition, you will need to isolate them for at least 30 days, apart from the rest of your flock. This routine is to ensure that if your chicken becomes sick or carrying parasites from outside, etc., you could concentrate on treating and rehabilitating your show chicken instead of your entire flock.
It is because, if not every show competitor is as cautious and responsible handlers as you, or if their diseased chicken remained asymptomatic at the period of the exhibition. Remember, precautions are and will always be better than cure.
The following is the top 7 list of the best show chicken breeds containing the chicken’s information, photo, and characteristics to guide you in selecting the appropriate chickens for shows. You do not need to include all of them in your flock, but you can choose some to highlight. Now let us take a look at each chicken to have a clear idea of what to anticipate.
1. Brahma Chicken
Although this colossal breed of chicken, the Brahma, has gained notoriety as a frightening chicken, just according to hearsays, stories, and videos you see online, they are scarcely worth terrifying.
In fact, they are now playing a big part in poultry exhibitions as a show chicken breed. But way back almost a century, these massive, peaceful chickens were the popular source of meat in the United States until contemporary broiler varieties took over.
While the name “Brahma” indicates that this chicken arose in India, the breed’s murky roots are now being directly associated with China. It’s hard to track ancestry and history. Any breeder who can introduce a new or unusual chicken breed can quickly gain popularity.
As its shape was altered and polished, the formerly low-ranking chicken now fetched outrageously ludicrous prices. At the epicenter of this feathery controversy was the Brahma chicken, dubbed as the “King of Chickens” and known by at least 20 uniquely different breed titles at one time.
Brahmas are magnificent, massive, and robust; they are elegant chickens with erect postures and big heads. They have sturdy legs covered in feathers that reach their toes.
Their plumage is firm; they also can acclimatize to various weather conditions. The hens produce big light brown eggs that are about 55g to 60g. Roosters are larger than hens and weigh approximately 5.5kg, while hens are around 4.5kg.
Brahmas can gladly remain private inside 2ft to 3ft of fence. The hens mature slower than other chicken breeds; they are highly sociable with humans and are very simple to raise but can take up an ample space due to their size.
However, they don’t fly, and you might just let them outdoors in the backyard or field to wander freely. The hens typically begin producing eggs at the age of six or seven months and continue to do so throughout the winter.
Their abundant feathering enables them to survive the cold winter. They are also friendly to other chicken breeds, and you can let them grow altogether without issues. Even the roosters are friendly to one another, and the hens are gentle, quiet, and easy to handle.
2. Cochin Chicken
The Cochin chicken is a domestic Asian chicken breed. They originate in early 1850s China. They are well-known and beloved worldwide for their large, amicable ball-like of fluff and plumage.
They are also superstars in poultry exhibitions as a show chicken breed. Cochins are a unique show chicken breed; they quickly gained popularity among poultry enthusiasts across the English region. This chicken breed is one of the biggest chicken breeds known nowadays.
With such a massive, ball-shaped physique that is rendered even rounder by its abundantly thick, silky feathering all over its body, it’s simple to understand why this lovely Cochin captured the world’s hearts.
Originally from China as a good producer of egg, meat, and even feathers, this enormous chicken is now usually used as a pet and yard ornament than a meal to eat. And sometimes, a poultry show participant.
Cochin chickens are relatively inactive in comparison to other breeds. Their inactive lifestyle and bloated shape have a detrimental impact on their health. Additionally, they are prone to metabolic and cardiovascular issues.
They like to remain on short grass and seldom go into higher foliage. Because higher foliage may damage their foot plumes, they occupy a small amount of space compared to their enormous size.
They like to be inside a fence; however, you should avoid exposing them to extreme cold. A 2ft to 3ft fence is enough to keep them since they do not fly. However, you must also be cautious about predators.
They are delightful, gentle, and maternal in temperament; that’s why they are fantastic broodies. Unfortunately, they are not excellent layers. They lay medium-sized eggs in tiny numbers.
When raised alongside other aggressive chicken breeds, Cochin chickens tend to be submissive. They need high-quality food and take an extended period to develop. They often reach maturity after two years, and they make excellent pets and a show chicken breed as well, with an average lifetime of 8-10 years.
3. Polish Chicken
The Polish chicken is a stunning show chicken breed with a feathery crown-like on top of its head, and they’re one of the most attractive poultry breeds. The breed also has two other names; Poland chicken or Paduan. Although the breed’s precise origins are uncertain, it is undoubtedly a chicken breed from Europe.
Despite the name Polish chicken, it is not really from Poland. However, the breed earned its title due to the breed’s similarity to the square, extending spikes on the feathered headgear used by Polish warriors in the past.
From 1830 to 1840, it is deemed that Polish chickens came from America. And it was very famous and loved by American chicken enthusiasts and even farmers for quite a while. It’s an ancient chicken breed that was popular in the early 1700s in England.
In 1874, the American Poultry Association included three varieties of Polish chicken breeds in its Standard of Perfection. Nowadays, the Polish chicken breed is bred chiefly for aesthetic purposes and as show chicken breeds.
Polish chickens have various unique features and are very famous due to their distinctive look and lovely crest. They feature tiny bright red V-shaped combs. Their wattles are little and reddish-orange. Their small wattles and earlobes are often concealed entirely by their crest and beard; their skin is white while their legs are grey, and they also come in a variety of colors.
Certain varieties of Polish chickens are outstanding medium-sized egg layers. They seldom exhibit brooding behavior and are quite nervous and quickly taken aback. Their crests are partially blocking their view, making them more vulnerable to airborne predators.
Additionally, if the crest becomes wet and filthy, it may dangle right in front of their eyes, resulting in infections and an inability to find food. As a result, extra care is a requirement to keep them clean and healthy. They are highly manageable and tame, and their size makes them easy to handle. Additionally, they make excellent pets and, of course, a show chicken breed.
4. Rosecomb Bantam
Rosecomb chickens are one of the stars of show chicken breeds and one of the earliest and original bantam chicken breeds; their title is obtained from their unique comb. They’re a pure bantam chicken breed from Great Britain and not a scaled-down replica of some bigger chicken breed. However, there is little known about the breed’s history.
The English breeders created the Rosecomb chicken breed, which dates back to the 1400s. During King Richard III’s reign in the 15th century, the breed gained popularity as he kept the breed himself.
Today, Rosecomb chickens are primarily raised for their aesthetic value. They still hold popularity among enthusiasts to this day. In 1874, the American Poultry Association accepted the rosecomb chicken into its Standard of Perfection.
Rosecomb Chickens have a tiny but sturdy physique. Furthermore, its big tail is kept erect from behind, giving it a beautiful look. Their name, Rosecomb, is derived after their enormous rose-like combs, including their stunning wattles and white earlobes.
Their comb is vibrant red and is very big for their total body size. The roosters have a long curved tail and elegant blueish legs. Their wings are angled down and can nearly touch the ground, and their back is a single long graceful slope from neck to their tail. Rosecomb chickens come in a variety of around 25 colors.
Rosecomb chickens are resilient and energetic chickens in general. While hens are generally gentle and easy to handle, the roosters may sometimes be belligerent. Unlike the majority of chicken breeds, Rosecomb chickens are excellent flyers.
Hens are poor layers, laying just a few tiny white eggs, and they are not often broody. Chicks develop slowly and need extra care. Rosecomb chickens adapt well to all climes except too much cold since their combs are vulnerable to freezing; they can also thrive in confinement; they are naturally amicable and make excellent pets or even a show chicken breed.
5. Faverolles Chicken
The Faverolles is a magnificent chicken breed from France. Raised as a utility chicken in the 1860s, their name, Faverolles, is derived from the French village of Faverolles.
They’re becoming very popular as dual-purpose chicken and a show chicken breed. The majority of them are now superstars of shows and poultry exhibitions. After using a variety of numerous chicken breeds, the breeders ended up with the Faverolles.
This breed arrived in the United Kingdom in 1886 and eventually found its way to the United States in the 1900s. Faverolles chickens come in a variety of colors. However, the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection does not accept all color variations.
In 1914, the American Poultry Association recognized the salmon type of Faverolles chicken as a Standard of Perfection, followed by the white type in 1981. You can also find bantam sizes of this breed.
Faverolles chickens are a massive bearded breed with feathered legs and five-toe instead of the standard four. This breed’s most prevalent color is salmon.
The hens’ plumage is primarily brownish and white with a khaki undertone; their necks are short, and their heads are wide around with eyes that are a bright reddish-brown color. The roosters are massive and beautiful, with colors ranging from yellow to black to dark red.
In nature, the Faverolles chicken is kind, friendly, and serene. That is why it has become famous for pet and show chicken breeds. They are also completely safe for kids, and they are a great option for the dual-purpose production of meat and eggs.
They are very energetic and active chickens. Hens can lay the copious amount of eggs throughout the winter and excellent broodies and moms. Faverolles are excellent food searchers; even young chicks can gladly explore for food.
Confinement is not an issue with Faverolles. Chicks rapidly grow and develop when given appropriate care and nutrition. They are excellent for chilly weather due to their tiny comb and dense feathering. Their lifetime is typically between 5 to 7 years.
6. Silkie Chicken
Silkie chickens are undeniably one of the most popular and adored beautiful chickens globally, whether for pet or show chicken breed. And it is one of the fascinating fowls to see. Its name, Silkie or Silky, is due to its fluffy fur-like soft feathers, which is said to seem like silk. It possesses hair-like feathers that feel like real fur same as the mammals have. Silkie is an ancient Asiatic breed.
Despite the fact that Silkie chickens are already around for hundreds of years, their origins are unknown. Poultry experts say that the breed originated in China, but some state that it might also arise in Japan or India. The precise place of their origin or discovery is unknown.
They emerged in Europe about two centuries ago and made their way to the United Kingdom in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1874, the American Poultry Association accepted the silkie chicken into its Standard of Perfection. Today, Silkie is the most widely popular aesthetic and show chicken breed. This breed is also available in bantam size.
The silkie chicken is a medium chicken breed with a thick, robust appearance and beautiful fluffy feathers. Their coat appears like fur rather than feathers due to the absence of barbicels in their plumage.
Because of their plumage, they are unable to fly. Silkie chicken is exceptionally peaceful, loyal, and kind. They are incapable of flying and may be easily contained with a modest fence. They typically cause little or zero destruction to a garden when allowed to roam freely.
According to some poultry enthusiasts, Silkie chickens are the perfect natural incubator. The hens will happily nest and rear their unconventional young as well if given the opportunity. During the summer, the hens cease egg production.
Because their feathers are not waterproof, maintaining them in a dry environment is good for them. They are also excellent as a pet, particularly for kids. They are very cold tolerant and can thrive in confinement.
7. Barbu d’ Uccle
All chickens do not have to be completely practical. For some owners, the company and pleasure provided by these magnificent chickens can be more than enough.
Aside from being a show chicken breed, If you’re searching for an enthusiastic, pleasant small chicken that you can spend time with and walk about your garden on its tiny feet with boots, go no further than the little Barbu d’Uccle.
You cannot do better than these bantam-sized chickens if you want easy-to-handle poultry. The docile temperament of these hens is one of their most distinguishing characteristics.
The Barbu d’Uccle chicken is a genuine bantam without a larger counterpart. The Barbu d’Uccle resulted from crossing the Dutch booted bantam and Antwerp Belgian in Uccle during the 1890s in the suburbs of Brussels. Although similar to the Barbu d’Anvers, this chicken breed has a feathery booted leg and a single comb.
Barbu d’ Uccle hens are excellent mothers, providing intensive care to their chicks from hatching to maturity. They are very prone to brooding — a characteristic for which they are well-known. They lay tiny eggs ranging in color from white to brownish.
Barbu d’ Uccles are born naturally friendly and can adapt well to confinement, such as tiny gardens since they have no desire to go too far. They like connecting with humans and are particularly adept at dealing with kids as they are readily tamed.
However, the roosters are prone to aggression during the breeding season, which is why pairing a single rooster with a group of hens is recommended. Additionally, it is critical to keep them dirt-free since mud may harm the feathering of their legs.
When it comes to chickens as a pet, they are an excellent option due to their pleasant attitudes and easy-to-handle size. Their physique is also appealing, with highly feathered legs, long beards, and necks so densely packed with long narrow feathers that their channels nearly disappear.
The hens are famous for being good moms and often get broody. They can certainly be glad to hatch and raise the eggs of any additional bantam chicken breeds you have.
Exhibiting your beautiful show chicken breeds is rewarding—but it also requires a great deal of effort and commitment. If your goal is to have beneficial backyard pets, you may be pretty content with hens from conventional poultry.
Suppose you’re serious about winning exhibits and shows. In that case, you may want to visit a couple of shows to get a sense of how they’re conducted and talk with previous winners about their tactics and procedures so you’ll have an idea which show lines to follow with your flock.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken & Scratch.