Blue Ribbon Tips for Entering Chickens in a State Fair

If you are entering your chickens; hens, or roosters, in a fair there are a few tips you might want to know to ensure that your poultry animals are shown to their best advantage, so you can bring home a ribbon. You also need to be aware that even if you do not win first prize, every show is a learning event, every judge is different, and part of the experience is just about showing your poultry to other producers who may contact you later.

Know Your Birds

You must know what breed your birds are, and be familiar with the breed standard. If your birds are poor examples of their breed, there is really no point in showing them as it will simply be stressful to both them, and you. You must place the bird in the right category for its breed, color, gender, age, and size (bantam or standard).

Get the Birds in Good Condition

Proper feeding is essential in getting your chickens in their best condition for the show. You will want them on a good diet so they grow to a good size for exhibition. If showing hens you will want to delay laying until after the show. This can be done by feeding them a wheat ration, rather than a full layer ration, and by moving them from pen to pen every few days so they do not get comfortable in a pet and start getting into the nesting habit.

Tame Your Birds

Your chickens must get use to people, and to being handled. You should handle them regularly, invite friends and family to handle them, and at times enclose them in a small pen like they would be placed in at a show. In this way the birds become familiar with the conditions they will experience while at a show. Taming can start at a young age, and should include getting them use to having their nails trimmed.

The taming process should involve poking into the cage with a pen, or pointer device.

Keep Your Birds Indoors Prior to the Show

You do not want your show birds to stain their feathers on grass, as well sunny days can cause some feathers to lose their color and luster. Special attention should be given to keep white birds off of the grass as they will stain the easiest and be difficult to get clean.

Make Your Birds Look Good

Chickens should be bathed one to three, days prior to the show. This can be stressful to a bird who has not experienced being bathed before. A kitchen sink is a good place to wash the bird. Do not fill up the sink with water, rather you are best to have a large bowl of luke warm water and use that to wash the bird.

You will also want to trim the nails at this time, and should check the bird for lice or mites. You should not show your bird if it has any parasites.

Keep Your Birds in Good Condition

Stress will result in a bird that does not show well. They should be transported to the show in a cage that is roomy and not likely to destroy any feathers while on route to the fair. Some people will transport their birds in cages made out of chicken wire, but this is very likely to damage a bird’s feathers. Cages made out of fine mesh are better, as are solid boxes with screening over the top.

Your bird should have food, and water, at all times. During transport it is sometimes hard to provide water, a cut apple will help keep the bird hydrated.  Be sure to bring bowls with you that you can use at the show.

Penning Your Chickens at the Show

Typically it is required that you have your chicken in the showing pen 30 to 60 minutes prior to the judging of the class. You will note that some shows allow penned birds (waiting for judging) to have food and water, while others do not. You may use baby oil on the legs and waddles of your bird to make them look good, using care not to get any on the feathers. You will want to keep an eye on the bird to remove droppings from the pen. Once judging has started (even if not on your bird) you should not approach your bird at all. If you approach your bird after it has been penned this is frowned upon as it is considered cheating – indicating to a judge which bird is yours.


After the show you will want to evaluate how you did, and how your bird did; you may talk to other competitors, and may even have a chance to talk to the judge. If you do so be sure to do it from an educational standpoint, trying to get more information to help you improve for your next show. Be aware that every judge is different and will have different opinions of your birds.