Introduction to Showing FAQ

This document contains a list of questions submitted by people on local chicken-related Facebook pages. If you have a question that has not been addressed, please let us know and we will get it on here.

The best place to start is to get some chickens! Some people like to rear chicks up themselves, others like to start with adult birds.

Commercial hatcheries have many common breeds and a few more rare breeds. It is important to remember that hatcheries are after quantity, not quality. Do not expect any chick that is bought from a hatchery to do well at a show. There are exceptions to this rule but it doesn’t happen very often.
Finding a mentor who can help you get good show quality birds of the breed(s) you are interested is a great way to start! Most show people are more than happy to help.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Find 1 or 2 breeds you are interested in and work from there.

Visit local Poultry Shows and ask questions! Watch what is going on. Join your local Poultry club or organization.

It is normal to be overwhelmed at first but hang in there, it is worth it.

The open show is the APA/ABA regular show. These birds are breeds listed in the Standard of Perfection and are judged against the breed characteristics as stated in the SOP. An open show is open to any one that wants to enter regardless of age or experience. Other shows are limited usually by age experience or category of birds. The junior show is for youth ages 18 and under. These are also recognized breeds judged against the SOP. The backyard show is for anyone (adult or youth) who may have a breed not listed in the APA Standard of Perfection, hatchery quality, mixed breeds from their backyard flock or those that just want to get their feet wet with showing. The backyard class is judged by club members where the open show and junior shows are judged by American Bantam Association (ABA) or American Poultry Association (APA) judges that are licensed by passing a test after years of studying the Standard of Perfection (SOP) and clerking for licensed judges.

A Cock bird is a male bird that is over a year old. They are also called Roosters.

A Hen is a female bird over a year old.

A Cockerel is a male bird that is under a year old.

A Pullet is a female bird under a year old.

A Trio is one male and two females of the same breed and variety. The two females should be as closely matched as possible.

An old trio consists of a Cock bird and two hens.

A young Trio consists of a Cockerel and two Pullets.

In judging, 50% of the points go towards how well the females match each other and how closely they meet the standard for their variety and breed.
The other 50% goes towards how well the male meets the standard for the variety and breed.

A double show is where two judges place each bird according to the Standard of Perfection. Neither one is aware of how the other judge is placing the birds. It is as if there were two shows but they are taking place at the same time. Double shows are designed to give exhibitors who are looking for starred wins in the ABA or points in the APA an extra chance to achieve those points. The more points they get – the faster they can achieve their goals towards Master Exhibitor and or Master Breeder.

Chickens, Large fowl or Bantams, ducks, geese, guinea hens and turkeys can all be shown.

A bird to be shown should be in its adult plumage. The age this happens varies from breed to breed and differs in large fowl and bantams. Usually any birds 6-8 months of age are ready to be shown.

There is no limit on the number of birds that can be shown. But because each grouping of Cock birds, Cockerels, Hens and Pullets are only placed from 1st-5th place. Some shows will place birds 1 past half of the birds entered in the class. The more birds you enter the better chance you have of placing. Even though all judges use the same Standard they may each interpret the Standard differently. When you enter more birds you give the judge an opportunity to see many different birds thus giving yourself a better chance. The ability to pay the entry fee will also determine how many you want to enter.

Most exhibitors bring birds that are in the best condition possible.

Remember the quality vs quantity rule.

Two of the most important factors in raising show quality birds is genetics and food.

It is difficult to have a show quality bird that isn’t getting the correct, nutritionally balanced diet.

Also having housing that is adequate for each bird to preserve feather condition is important.

Do not put too many birds in too small of a space. Give them as much room as you can.

Having birds that are used to being handled is important as well.

Taking preventative measures against disease and parasites is crucial.

If you ask 5 breeders how they wash and prepare their birds for a show you will probably get 5 different answers.

A mild soap for the initial washing.

Rinse, rinse and rinse some more.

Some breeds need a fabric softener, yes, a fabric softener, in the final rinse.

Some breeds need blow drying and others air drying. Some colors shouldn’t dry in direct sunlight.

This is where a mentor in the breed you are showing comes in handy.

Also, pay attention to trimming those toenails and the beak if necessary.

Washing and prepping birds for a show should take place no later than 3-5 days before a show. This gives a chance for the birds natural feather oils to be replaced.

No. Cages are always provided for shows such as Utah Fancy Poultry Association, state fairs, and county fairs.

At Utah Fancy Poultry Association, state fairs, and county fairs, scratch is typically provided. Scratch helps to firm up their poop, creating less mess. Club member or fair staff volunteers typically feed and water the birds once they are checked in. Have you been to a show and found that some chickens have little or dirty water? This is not because the birds are not being taken care of. It is often because some birds love to spill their water, some birds tend to get their crests and beard feathers soaked which can impact how they show or some birds have great aim and poop in their water dish whenever possible. Exhibitors may also have their birds on a strict diet so, may to bring food or water from home. In this case, these exhibitors would feed their own birds. If you would like to help, please ask the staff first.

Be sure to read the show registration information carefully. Every show has different, strict requirements on when birds can be dropped off and picked up. Shows are run by volunteers. Please respect their time. Many people want to pick up their birds early. This can cause mass confusion and can lead to a great risk of theft. Plus, if people were allowed to pick up their birds early, there’s nothing for others to view which leads to less visitors and less people interested in the hobby. State fairs and county fair poultry volunteers answer to the fair committee. If people take their birds early, poultry volunteers are reprimanded and may lose the poultry show space for future years. Be aware that pick up times at state fairs and county fairs are usually at night after rodeos have started or finished.

No, many exhibitors are not able to be there during the judging portion as it often takes place during a weekday morning. Depending on the show, you may or may not be allowed in the building during judging. At most APA/ABA sanctioned shows, aisles within the showroom will be closed off while the judges are working so that they are not disturbed or influenced. At some shows, such as county fairs, where multiple shows (poultry, pigeons, and rabbits are sometimes all being judged at the same time) take place in one building, volunteers are limited, and judges are short on time, the whole building may be closed until judging is complete. After judging is complete, judges, people that clerked for them, or knowledgeable volunteers are usually happy to discuss your birds with you.

You will need to buy a Standard of Perfection which is a chicken exhibitor’s bible. Sometimes, if you join an official breed club, they have permission to share all or part of the standard but it’s typically in a place online where only members can enter. You may also be able to find a breeder to be your mentor. The best way to do that is to attend shows and meet exhibitors. UFPA exhibitors are usually extremely helpful and happy to share their knowledge.

I can see how one could wonder why from attending some of the county fair shows. Ours does not draw many breeders working to improve their breeds. Many of the birds are not in show condition (dirty, broken feathers, etc.) But, the county fair is a great place to try it out and get feedback. Almost everyone wins. Kids love it because they get a few dollars for most birds that they enter. And it’s free to enter.

With the UFPA show and other American Poultry Association/American Bantam Association sanctioned shows (the Utah State Fair is sanctioned), many people showing are very serious about their birds and are working to help keep the breed and it’s characteristics alive. Chicken breeds are much like dog breeds, due to mixing breeds and lack of knowledge on the breeders part, the breeds are losing some of their key characteristics. The birds at these shows are judged strictly by the written Standard of Perfection for the breed. You get points for things that are right and get knocked points or disqualified for defects that are not a characteristic of the breed. You can join breed clubs just like some purebred dog owners do. Personally, we’ve had a lot of fun with it. My daughter is the only one that shows in our family but it’s become a family event and we’ve made some really amazing friends through showing that we really look forward to seeing a couple times a year.

Unfortunately, that’s something the UFPA can’t do at this time. We had so few chickens in the last show (Fall 2017) that we have had to discuss dropping down to one show a year. The best way to make this possible would for more people to get involved. Remember, the UFPA is a group of volunteers that have a great passion for the hobby but we can’t put on shows where we don’t have a strong membership population present.

The only requirements are that your birds be healthy. In the past few years, advertising has been done on KSL, the club page, and related chicken related Facebook pages. We hope to get back into advertising at feed stores and community bulletin boards. We plan to make fliers but will need the community’s help to get these posted statewide. You can also check for show information.

We think this is a great idea! Since we would have volunteers committing their time and potentially driving for a couple hours back and forth, we would need to make sure people are willing to come. We may need to charge a small registration fee ($5 or so) which would go to club funds to make sure people are committed. Be on the lookout for details!

It can definitely be a 4H thing. 4H chicken clubs are a more lengthy process with a lot of record keeping. You will need to contact your local USU Extension office to find out if there is a 4H poultry club in your community. If there’s not one, start one! You can do both 4H and other club shows at the same time. Juniors are more than welcome at UFPA shows. They can enter in both the regular show which judges the chicken and in junior showmanship which judges their chicken knowledge and handling skills. You do not need to preregister for showmanship like you do for the standard show. Just be sure to look over the current show schedule to find out when junior showmanship will take place and be sure to have your child bring a bird with them to use during this competition.

​While you do not have to be a member of a club to show, a membership in a Club or Organization is a benefit as it keeps you in touch with people who have been showing for many years. Newsletters that have articles and information on the care and preparation of your birds and it is just pretty cool to say that you are a member of a poultry club! Fees collected from memberships and show entries go towards venue rental fees and awards.
It is also an opportunity to serve those whom you associate with.

Breed clubs and clubs such as the APA and ABA, also track points on show wins. These points help breeders attain the level of Master Breeder.