Selecting the Perfect Show Bird for County Fair

by Manda H

Published June 13, 2023

Country Fair is always the most egg-citing week of the year, at least in my family. Throughout the years we have shown a variety of different types of livestock.  Poultry showmanship day has always been, at least for me, the most exciting. Poultry is often one of the first types of livestock that a child will show as part of County Fair. Their size makes them safe and manageable compared to the size of the child. Taking poultry to fair is a very cost-effective animal as parents are able to purchase, maintain, and house.

Selecting the Right Chicken: Factors to Consider for Showmanship

When we first started, I thought I could pick any random chicken in my flock and it was just as good as any other. I was wrong, there are a lot of things to consider when selecting a chicken for showmanship. Of course, a huge part of showing a chicken is just the experience. I have allowed some of my children to take their favorite chicken, with all of its faults and flaws because it made them happy. However, I like to win. I like to see my children win. If you are reading this, you are likely researching to determine what kind of things you need to look at when selecting a chicken for yourself or your child to show at the county fair.

The most important thing to consider when selecting your showmanship chicken is each bird’s temperament/personality. It doesn’t matter how perfect of a chicken it is, if your child is unable to handle it.

It is highly recommended to choose a chicken that best fits the size of a child. Great choices for the younger showman are such breeds as Silkie and other varieties of bantams. Their lower weight makes them easier for the child to handle. Older children will want to select from Standard breeds. While they can show a bantam, it can potentially dock them points if they select a smaller breed because the larger breeds come with a degree of difficulty. In other words, it helps to show that the older child is willing to have a little more of a challenge vs something that would be naturally easier.

Selecting your show bird for county fair - Meyer Hatchery
Showmanship children showing poultry county fair chicken show bird - Meyer Hatchery

Evaluating the Chicken: Checking for Faults and Meeting the Standard of Perfection

Once you have your top contenders, you will want to check over each one to see how it compares to the Standard of Perfection. The Standard of Perfection stems from the American Poultry Association, which is the oldest livestock organization in North America. The APA determines the standard for which poultry will be exhibited and judged.

You are looking to see if the chicken matches the standard. Some of the things that you are looking for is to see if the chicken has the right leg color, matching toe nails, proper comb and ear lobe coloring. This is what is referred to as checking for “faults”.  Faults are a type of disqualification. It means that it is something contrary to the Standard of Perfection.  You need to check over the bird to check for scaly legs and other parasites. You will need to get them treated in time for the big day.

Practicing Showmanship: Finding the Perfect Match for Your Child

Once you have narrowed down your choices be sure to have your child practice showmanship with each one to determine which one will work with them the best. You can always enter the other chickens in breed classes. Afterall,  you can certainly use any chicken, even a barnyard cross, for showmanship. If it comes down to the fact that the most “perfect” chicken is just not easy to handle, you will want to opt for the chicken that your child can handle. The ability to maintain control of the chicken and having a great understanding of the various parts of your chicken are the two most important aspects of showmanship. Thirdly, and most importantly, is enjoying the experience.

Choosing a show bird for fair for kids - Meyer Hatchery

One reason why Meyer Hatchery is a wonderful hatchery to purchase birds is that we work with a professional breeder that regularly goes through our breeder barns to remove hens and roosters that did not mature out as nicely as we would like. We are about quality, not quantity when it comes to the chicks that we have available for selling to our customers. This fact does not guarantee that your chickens will be free of faults, but you can have confidence that quality was in mind when we used them to create more baby chicks.

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