Thinking of joining the glamorous world of chicken pageantry, are we? Choosing a show chicken breed can be as overwhelming as learning about chicken genetics. But we’ll spare you the Biology lesson and give you quick, simple guidelines to winning your first medal.
First things first, and this is quite important, DO NOT delude yourself with a pointless pursuit of perfection. Chicken shows are not about finding the perfect breed, genetically or physically. It is a show of flamboyance, like a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show for chickens.
That said, selecting a suitable breeding stock can (and will) be challenging. Being too fussy about your breeds might just be the difference between wishing to enter the show and definitely doing so (and maybe winning).
Chicken Show experts recommend choosing a general physique, attending big poultry exhibitions, and observing what arouses attention in the cages. Being adaptable is critical, especially if you’re a beginner, so keep your head on a swivel.
Today, many show chicken breeds persist primarily for the sake of entertainment. These show girls left their egg-laying days behind for the glamor of the lights and the prestige of the camera. They left meat production to other breeds, and now their curvacious bodies are for the eyes and not the stomach.
But how do you raise chicken for the limelight?
How to Raise a Quality Show Chicken
ALWAYS, ALWAYS (I can’t say this enough), ALWAYS start with a good breed stock. Get in touch with professional breeders and track down eggcellent bloodlines. And, as I said, perfection is not the key. The fact that you have the purest of breeds doesn’t mean you’ll clinch the title.
With your breed stock secure, you want to practice top-shelf husbandry. I mead feed them with quality food and maintain and protect their health. We want these cluckers in tip-top shape.
Also, ensure that you are well-versed with knowledge about the breed standards; these are the things judges and evaluators look for in show chickens.
These criteria include factors like size, mass, colors of the legs and earlobes, type of comb, and toe count. Occasionally, our honorable judges include factors spike count on a chicken’s comb, the form or physique, and feather tightness, petty but justified.
Some judges even evaluate the direction of the tail feathers. You do not want to be that guy or gal who enters a slender chicken in a category or breed meant to be heavy set—or the opposite. The devil is in the details, my friends, in the details.
It is important you take extra care of your A-list performers. I’m not talking about manicures, pedicures, or hair care products. I’m talking about protecting your show chicken from parasites like mites, ticks, and lice that may destroy your chicken’s naturally elegant plumage. Stress will be your enemy.
So acclimatize them to transportation and handling. We want these birds to get used to these treatments so they don’t get stressed on exhibition day when everyone wants to get their touch on.
Numerous show competitors are bathing their chickens and applying feather conditioners or enhancers on show day to improve the shine of the plumes. 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 carries parasites from outside, etc., you can 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, precaution is and will always be better than cure.
The following are the top 7 best show chicken breeds. Our list contains the chicken breed’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. Now let us take a look at each chicken to have a clear idea of what to anticipate.
1. Brahma Chicken
This big, bad bird has gotten quite a bad rap – trust me, I mean that literally! People often think of him as scary, like some monster straight out of their worst nightmares. But let me tell you, the Brahma chicken is more like a gentle giant than a terrorizing creature.
And don’t even get me started on those scriptwriters trying to make a quick buck off his supposed scariness. Please, give him credit where credit’s due – he’s nothing short of amazing, deserving all our love and admiration.
The truth is, he’s been breaking hearts left and right at every chicken show around town; in fact, he’s got a pretty impressive track record, winning all kinds of medals, trophies, and whatnot! So, you can forget any notion of him being ugly or whatever – this guy’s a true champion, inside and out.
Back in the day, folks were digging this bird not for its good looks but for its delicious meat. But then came along those flashy broilers, and the Brahma suddenly had competition. Instead of getting all worked up, though, our feathered friend turned to the stage lights, became a star performer, and never looked back.
But here’s where things get interesting: it turns out this breed’s origins aren’t as clear cut as, well, a box of crayons. Folks used to think Brahmas hailed from India, but nowadays, it’s more like: “Hey y’all, it’s straight up China.” Talk about a surprise twist!
And today, oh boy, have things changed since Brahma times. Any rookie breeder wants to stand out like a sore thumb, bringing fresh blood into the mix. Quirky is now the name of the game.
Brahma’s shape was altered, and its external characteristics were polished. The formerly low-ranking participant now fetches outrageously ludicrous prices, your typical rags-to-riches story. Today, the Brahma chicken is dubbed the “King of Chickens” with over 20 uniquely different breed titles under its name.
Brahmas are magnificent, massive, and robust. They are elegant chickens with erect postures and big heads. They have sturdy legs adorn with feathers, reaching their toes.
Their plumage is firm, and they also acclimatize easily to various weather and climatic conditions; they are hardy birds. The hens produce big light brown eggs that weigh about 55g to 60g. Roosters are larger than hens (as is to be expected) and weigh approximately 5.5kg, while hens are around 4.5kg.
Brahmas can gladly remain quiet inside a 2ft to 3ft fencing. The hens mature slower than other chicken breeds; they are highly sociable with humans and are very simple to raise.
However, they don’t fly due to their colossal size, and you might just let them outdoors in the backyard or field to wander free. The hens typically begin producing eggs at the age of six or seven months.
Their abundant feathering enables them to survive the coldest of winters. They are also friendly to other chicken breeds, and you can let them grow together without clashes or skirmishes. Even the roosters are friendly to one another. The hens are gentle, quiet, and easy to handle.
2. Cochin Chicken
Like the gentle giant that is the Brahma, the Cochin chicken is an Asian chicken breed. The Cochin chicken has graced Asia (more specifically China) with its beauty since the early 1850s. Now, they are well-known and beloved worldwide for their large, ball-like fluff and plumage.
Cochin chickens are also superstars in their right, gracing poultry exhibition shows and clinching awards. For this, they have gained popularity among poultry enthusiasts of the West. The English are particularly fond of this beauty.
Today, this chicken breed is one of the biggest chicken breeds known nowadays.
Heavier than a bag of cement and a round a wrecking ball, Cochin’s physique is its biggest asset, smashing its competition like the wrecking ball it is. And then there’s the feathers, the silky, smooth feathers, our number one motivation for falling in love with these gorgeous beings.
Originally from China, as an eggcellent producer of eggs, meat, and even feathers, this enormous chicken is now kept as a pet and yard ornament. And sometimes, a poultry pageant participant.
Cochin chickens are relatively inactive in comparison to other breeds, naturally poised and filled with grace. This inactive lifestyle is the chief cause of its bloated frame. It also has a detrimental impact on the chicken’s health. Additionally, they are prone to metabolic and cardiovascular issues. This is one bird that is in need of a gym membership.
They like to sink their feet on short grass and seldom go into higher foliage. Tall grass damages their foot plumes, and we don’t want that for our fashion killer.
For a loathed bird, the Cochin needs a surprisingly small space. Two-three square feet worth of space is enough for this bird. And you don’t have to worry about covering the enclosure; this bird can’t fly. But you still have to keep an eye out for predators.
Cochins are delightful and gentle in temperament. They make eggcellent moms but not particularly good layers. The fruits of their wombs are medium-sized eggs in small quantities.
Did I mention cochins are the gentle type? So gentle these birds are that they bow to aggressive chickens if you raise them together. They need high-quality food, and they can live to blow 8-10 candles.
3. Polish Chicken
The Polish chicken is a stunning show chicken breed with a feathery crown and a fitting headdress for a queen. The breed also has two other aliases; Poland Chicken and Paduan. Although the breed’s precise origins are uncertain, it is undoubtedly a European Beaut.
Despite the name “Polish Chicken,” it is not really a Polish chicken or chicken from Poland, for that matter. However, the breed earned its title owing to its similarity to the square, extending spikes on the feathered headgear used by Polish soldiers of days past.
From 1830 to 1840, it was deemed that Polish chickens came from America. And it was beloved by American chicken enthusiasts and farmers for quite a while. The not-so-Polish Polish chicken is an ancient breed that was popular in early 18th-century 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 its looks as a showstopper.
Polish chickens have various unique features, including tiny bright red V-shaped combs. Their wattles are little and reddish-orange. Their small wattles and earlobes are often concealed entirely by their crests and beards. Their skin is white, while their legs are grey, and they also come in various colors.
Certain varieties of Polish chickens are outstanding layers, popping out medium-sized eggs; they are not the best mothers, but they are excellent layers.
Looking good has its sacrifices, and no show chicken embodies this better than the Polish chicken. Its crest partially blocks its view, making it more vulnerable to airborne predators.
It grows even worse when the crest gets wet or encrusted with filth. The extra weight dangles the comb right before the bird’s eye. Besides blocking the bird’s eye view, dirty combs can infect the visual organ, causing blindness and impeding the chicken’s ability to forage for food.
Take extra care of this beauty; keep it clean and healthy.
4. Rosecomb Bantam
Rosecomb chickens are one of the OG Bantam chicken breeds. They earned their moniker from their unique comb, the Rose Comb. Red as a rose and beautiful as one too, the Rosecomb’s crest is the most striking feature of the bird’s body.
Rosecombs are pure Bantam chicken breeds; they are not a watered-down version of a grater bird or a mish-mash of different chicken breeds. We’ll thank Brits for the existence of this gorgeous bird. That said, there is little known about the breed’s history.
The English breeders created the Rosecomb chicken breed back in the 1400s. I wonder where I was back then. King Richard III was the ruler of the United Kingdom, and the Rosecomb was leading a charm offensive of historical proportions, even winning the King’s heart. Yes, King Richard III had a Rosecomb in his personal flock.
Today, the Rosecomb chicken is King of the stage, mainly kept for aesthetic value. They still hold popularity among enthusiasts to this day. In 1874, the American Poultry Association accepted the Rosecomb Bantam chicken breed into its Standard of Perfection.
Rosecomb Chickens are tiny with sturdy physiques. Concerned with its appearance, the Rosecomb keeps its tail erect, an elegant and beautiful sight.
Yes, Rosecomb is a color description of their enormous rose-like combs and wattles. Like a defiant child, their earlobes take a completely different color; white.
Their combs and wattles are vibrant red. And in proportion to the rest of their bodies, these features are quite big. The roosters have long curved tails and equally elegant blueish legs. Their wings are angled down, almost touching the ground. Their backs; a single long graceful slope from the neck to their tail. Do I have to spell it out? Rosecomb chickens are beautiful creatures.
And just to spice things up, they come in around 25 colors.
Rosecomb chickens are resilient and energetic chickens. While hens are generally gentle and easy to handle, the roosters may sometimes appear belligerent.
Unlike most of our contenders in this list, Rosecomb chickens are excellent flyers.
Hens are poor layers and worse moms. They lay a few eggs, all tiny in size. Chick development is slow and in need of a lot of TLC, not the band but the tender, love, and care.
Rosecomb chickens can handle most climates except really cold ones. The chicken’s most-priced asset is a liability in cold climates. The pronounced combs are prone to frostbite. As long as it’s warm, Rosecombs will handle anything you throw at them.
These cluckers are not hungry for space; they can thrive in confinement.
5. Wyandotte Chicken
Allow me to introduce the next feathered superstar; its name is Wyandotte!
With its striking plumage and dazzling personality, this breed is the ultimate showstopper. An authentic “fowl of fortune,” the Wyandotte reigns supreme in the realm of poultry pageantry.
Picture a chicken strutting its stuff on the catwalk, feathers glistening and wattles dangling. That’s the Wyandotte for you! With its rounded shape and compact size, it’s a curvaceous diva that knows how to steal the show. Its figure is so impeccable that it can give Hollywood starlets a run for their money.
Personality-wise, the Wyandotte chicken breed is a true showbiz character. It’s confident, poised, and always ready to steal the limelight. But what is it like to own a Wyandotte chicken?
They may be pretty, but Wyandotte chicken breeds are not afraid to get dirty. You’ll often find them in the yard foraging for insects and pecking on vegetable leaves. And when they have to, they’ll scratch the bugs out of the ground.
Son’t let the beautiful two-toned feathers of this bird fool you. The Wyandotte chicken is not by any measure a soft breed. It’s hardy and quite resistant to most of the diseases that plague fowl of this class. However, vaccination is necessary. Since most of them are administered to hatchlings in the hatchery, you should be good.
Just give them high-quality food rich in protein. Also, incorporate oyster shells into their diet to give that calcium boost, especially your layers. They need that calcium for their egg-making machines. A good diet promotes posit health and blooms those beautiful plumes we love so much.
Wyandotte chickens are not talkative birds. Sure, you’ll hear them sing their egg song, but apart from that, crickets. Given the right care, Wyandotte chickens will dwell in your hearts for five to 12 years until they sing their last song.
Until then, bask in the glamour of their beauty and enjoy the fruits of their wombs.
6. Faverolles Chicken
The Faverolles is a magnificent chicken breed from France. Faverolles started life as a humble utilitarian chicken in the 1860s, adding meat and eggs to the French food basket. Fun fact, the chicken breed derives its name from the village of Faverolles; a humble beginning indeed.
From the French countryside, the Faverolles chicken set out to conquer the world. Its first stop was England in 1886, winning hearts and minds. Not long, in the 1900s, the elegant chicken strutted its way to the US.
When exactly the chicken went Hollywood and became a show chicken isn’t exactly known, but in 1914 the American Poultry Association inducted the Salmon variety of the Faverolles chicken into the Standard of perfection. The white variety later joined the ranks in 1981.
For centuries, the Faverolles chicken has thrived as a dual-purpose chicken and a show chicken breed. You’ll find many of them strutting on the podiums and runways of countless exhibitions, even grabbing the occasional award or two.
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.
Faverolles chickens are a massive bearded breed with feathered legs and five-toes. Color options are plentiful among the Faverolles chicken breed; the Salmon is the most flamboyant.
The hens’ plumage is primarily brownish and white with a khaki undertone. Their necks are short, and their heads are wide around with eyes. The windows of their saul are a bright reddish-brown color.
The roosters are massive and equally beautiful as the female; or is it handsome? The rooster has enough colors to star in the Pride Month parades: with colors ranging from yellow to black to dark red.
Temperament-wise, the Faverolles chicken is kind, friendly, and serene. That is why they make good pets and better show chicken breeds. They are also completely safe for kids, and they are a great option for meat and egg production.
Their egg production is eggcellent. The hens can lay a copious amount of eggs throughout the year. Besides being tireless egg-making machines, the hens are also excellent brooders and better moms.
Their foraging skills are top-notch. And the younglings learn at a very early age.
Confinement is not an issue with Faverolles. Chicks rapidly grow and develop when given appropriate care and nutrition. They don’t fear chilly weather. Unlike Rosecombs, their crests are tiny, and their feathers are dense.
Their lifetime is typically between 5 to 7 years.
7. Silkie Chicken
Silkie chickens are undeniably one of the most popular and adored beautiful chickens globally, whether for pet or show chicken breeds. The Silkie chicken is truly a sight to behold. Its name, Silkie or Silky, is a nod to the fluffy or fur-like nature of its feathers. So silky it looks like a certain big bird on the TV show Sesame Street; if only it came in yellow.
Despite the fact that Silkie chickens have been around for centuries, their origins are surprisingly unknown. Poultry experts say that the breed originated in China, but some say it Japan might be its homeland. Rumors of Indian origins still rock the grapevine. But rather than argue about its true origin, I’d prefer to admire this natural piece of art.
These silky-smooth chickens emerged in Europe about two centuries ago. It glided its way to the United Kingdom in the mid-nineteenth century. And not long after that, it laid a pink egg in our hearts.
In 1874, the American Poultry Association accepted the Silkie chicken breed 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 sturdy frame, almost like a miniature chicken. But it’s most defining characteristic is still its beautiful fluffy feathers. Their coat appears like fur rather than feathers.
The fluffy feathers make the Silkie the most beautiful chicken breed on the planet. But that very nature of its feathers impedes its ability to fly. A good feature if you don’t want this bird flying out of your life.
Some poultry enthusiasts consider Silkie chickens natural incubators. The hens will happily nest and rear their unconventional young. Egg production is fairly consistent throughout the year except in the summer when the exhausted ladies take a much-deserved break.
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. With their advice, you’ll have an idea of 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.