Show Day Prep For Chickens

by Meghan H

Published June 22, 2020

You are determined to start showing your chickens or purchase chickens to show, but maybe you’re not sure how to prepare? Whether you are a 4-H parent desperately searching for how to help with your kiddo’s project, a seasoned chicken keeper with the itch to show, or new to chicken keeping but the idea of showing poultry is exciting, our goal is to provide tips to help you be successful. It is no secret that showing poultry takes time and dedication but there are a few tips that can eliminate some of the stress of not knowing exactly how to prepare for the show.

Tip 1-Obtaining Your Birds
  • Make sure to check the poultry requirements of the show in which you will be participating. The types of poultry allowed will vary for each show.
  • It’s best to purchase or raise several birds for the class you will be showing in so that you have a variety to select from prior to your show. You never know who will decide to go through a last-minute molt and you want to be sure to have a few options
Tip 2- Caring For Your Birds
  • Make sure to have proper housing. It is not recommended to keep show birds in with your regular egg-laying flock. Keeping them in a separate area will help to keep them in good physical condition in preparation for the show.
  • Always provide a fresh supply of water. Water helps chickens regulate their body temperatures, helps with digestion, elimination of waste, and production of eggs. If they are dehydrated and their bodies are not functioning properly they will not grow and show well.
  • Keeping your show chickens separate from your laying flock typically means that they do not get to naturally forage as often. Providing them with a high-quality feed will allow them to receive the nutrients that they need to stay healthy and develop properly.
  • So that your birds will be well socialized and used to being handled you want to be sure to handle them as much as possible from day one. Handling your birds a few days before the show will not be enough. Spending time with them and holding them will make them more comfortable with you prior to the show. Before a show, you can put them in a cage, similar to what they would have at a show. Practice getting them used to you reaching in and out of the cage and taking them in and out.
Tip 3- Investing In Your Project
  • Learn about the breed you are showing. For each breed, you choose to show, you should learn what the judges will be looking for while judging. Judges judge based off of the Standard Of Perfection. It is highly recommended to purchase a copy of the Standard Of Perfection so that you can use it as a tool in determining which bird in your flock is ready for the show.
  • Anatomy- If you choose to participate in showmanship judging at the show you are attending it is important to learn the anatomy of the bird you are showing. If you are showing in the exhibition classes you will need to know all about the external features of the bird. Participating in market showmanship will require you to not only know the external parts of the bird but also the internal such as where certain cuts of meat can be found when processed.
  • Facts- Showmanship Judging in 4-H is a great opportunity to let the judge know all that you have learned about the breed you are showing. Make sure to take the time to study all there is to know about the breed as well as as many poultry facts as possible.

Tip 4- Gather Show Supplies

Creating a container or bin of supplies you will need in preparation for and during the show is recommended so that you will have everything you need to be successful. Start thinking about how you are going to prep your chickens for the show. How are you going to wash/clean them? How are you going to keep them clean during the show? Meyer Hatchery carries all the show supplies you need to get your birds show-ready. Meyer Hatchery also offers the Best of Show Kit.

Tip 5- Scrub A Dub Dub

Make sure to wash your birds a few days prior to the day you will be showing. Washing your chickens strips the natural oils from their feathers making them look dry and dull. Giving them a few days after washing to obtain those natural oils again will ensure their feathers will look shiny and show ready. The process is a simple 3 step process using three different buckets.

Step 1 (Bucket 1)

This will be your shampoo bucket. Gallop, Poultry Shampoo, and Green Goo Poultry Wash are great products for use on show chickens. You can gently use a toothbrush to remove dirt around the comb and poop or dirt from the legs and toes.

Step 2 (Bucket 2)

This bucket contains water and vinegar. Using ¼ -½ cup of vinegar to every gallon of water is recommended. The vinegar helps remove the soap from your bird’s feathers and skin.

Step 3 (Bucket 3)

This bucket is your clean water bucket only. Glycerin can be added to the water to help restore the oils in the feathers and to help provide a lustrous shiny appearance.

If the weather is warm enough you can allow your birds to air dry, but if you are needing to dry your bird quickly a hairdryer on low can be used. Be careful that you do not stay in one area too long, and do not use high heat to avoid accidentally overheating or burning your chicken.

Tip 6- Showtime

While at the show you want to make sure your chickens’ pens are clean at all times. A clean pen equals a clean bird. Prior to judging it is good to give your birds a last-minute look over. Be sure to wipe down any unclean portions of the bird so they are in their best form for the judge. Comb reddening is a fantastic product to apply one hour before entering the show ring with your bird. Using this will brighten your bird’s comb and add to its overall appearance. It is now time for all of your time and hard work to shine! For youth showing, when you are with the judge be sure to maintain eye contact and smile.


Showing poultry can be rewarding and you are sure to learn so much each time you participate. Meyer Hatchery wishes you the best of luck at your next poultry show!


Find More Showing Tips on
The Coop with Meyer Hatchery Podcast

Whether it’s your first year or you’re a seasoned pro when it comes to showing poultry, be sure to check out our podcast. We interview Mike, Show Superintendent of Ohio National Poultry Show, and also chat with Amanda from Meyer Hatchery on their best tips and tricks for placing. 

4-H Show Prep | The Coop Podcast
Ohio National Poultry Show | The Coop Podcast with Meyer Hatchery

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