Now, when most chicken breeds were developed, it was only for three main reasons; to provide eggs, meat, and feathers to their owners. However, as time passed, another class of chicken breeds emerged that were considered beautiful, majestic, and downright designer. These birds were placed in a class of their own and named show chicken breeds.
The reason why these chickens were considered to show breeds was due to their vivid colors and ornamentation that made them ideal for winning shows. Today, these breeds have become widely common though some are critically endangered meaning they might seize to exist in the next few generations.
So, if you’re reading this guide, then it means you’re curious or you’re planning to decorate your coop with some ornamental chicken breeds. Also, it’s likely you’re planning to make a debut in the next chicken show with some arousing and attention-grabbing chicken breeds that will leave all heads turning. Whatever your intentions are, here are 12 incredibly decorated chickens that will not fail you in the next chicken exhibition.
Different Breeds of Chickens
Now, if someone asked you how many chicken breeds are there in the world, the most obvious answer you’d give would probably be, many. That’s because there are hundreds of chicken breeds that are available globally. Since the classification of these empathetic creatures is both extensive and very specific, various agricultural organizations have recognized certain breeds depending on specific set standards.
For instance, the Australian Poultry Standard recognizes around 60 breeds of chickens while the British Poultry Standard list about 93. The American Poultry Association recognizes just 6 classes of chickens, which are generally classified as American, Asiatic, Mediterranean, English, Continental, and All Other Standard Breeds.
But, other than the breed, chickens are further classified according to their uses. Here, they’re categorized into just 4 groups that include meat breeds, egg-laying breeds, dual-purpose breeds, and ornamental/exhibition/show breeds.
While we’re well aware of the first three categories, the last category is quite unfamiliar to most of you. But, believe it or not, some people raise fancy chickens for exhibition and show purposes. These chickens are more than pets as they demand extra care due to their demanding role as ornamental birds. Most of these birds are amazingly cute, funny, intelligent, and very friendly.
Raising Tips for Loveliest Show Chickens
Raising free-range chickens is an easy endeavor. However, when it comes to ornamental birds, these demand a high level of care to keep them safe as they await the next exhibition competition. That said, are you wondering how to show chickens? Well, here are some raising tips you should consider if you’re dealing with such chicken breeds.
1. Understand the Level of Competition
If you’re joining a chicken exhibition for the first time, you need to start by doing your homework well. Doing your homework means attending several exhibitions to understand the quality of the birds that win often. This way, you’ll know which chicken breeds are more likely to win than others.
2. Focus on the Diet
One of the areas you should be very keen on is the feeding program for your chickens. Now, ornamental chickens are not like ordinary chickens that are fed to gain weight. These ones require a specific feeding program. Therefore, you should give them high-grade food to nourish their feathers. Make sure that you weigh them regularly to prevent them from adding too much weight.
3. Separate the Sexes
Make sure that you separate the roosters from the hens once the chickens are mature. This is to prevent them from damaging their beautiful plumage when establishing pecking orders or when mating.
4. Keep the Birds Indoors
Show chickens should not be allowed to free-range but rather kept indoors to protect them from the elements. Factors such as excess sunlight can dull their feathers while sand bathing can stain their plumage making it hard to clean.
5. Pen Train Your Chicken
Now, this is very important when preparing for a show. Note that, if your chicken is not pen trained, it’s likely to get nervous and distressed when it sees people around it. This can cause it to fly up and down inside the show cage annoying the judges and potentially leading to a disqualification.
So, to avoid this, you need to place your birds inside a rabbit cage a few weeks before the exhibition. You should also hold the bird regularly to inspect its wings, feathers, and face. This will make it less nervous during an inspection.
6. Groom it Regularly
When getting ready for an exhibition, you need to groom your chicken by trimming the beak and the claws. The feet should be oiled regularly to keep them moist. Depending on the breed, you’ll have to either wash or wipe the feathers to keep the color looking bright and intact.
Best Show Chicken Breeds at a Glance
|Name of Chicken||Unique Features||Temperament||Egg Production||Main Use|
|4. Polish Chicken|
|6. Golden Laced Wyandotte|
|7. Modern Game Bantam|
|9. Barbu D’Uccle|
|10. Frizzle Chicken|
|11. Brahma Chicken|
|12. Houdan Chicken|
Top 12 Chicken Breeds for Showing
Now that we’ve discussed how to care for your ornamental birds, it’s now time to list some of these birds. Here, we’ve gathered at least 12 breeds that are gorgeous and colorful. I don’t know whether it’s because of their beauty or simply because they’re trained to behave when close to the judges, but these best show chickens are truly friendly making them a superb addition to your backyard flock.
Claiming the top position on our list is the Faverolle chicken. Raised in France in the 1860s, the Faverolle is a mixed breed of numerous breeds such as the French Rennes, Houdan, Marans, and the Brahma among others.
Initially, this chicken was specifically raised for meat and eggs as it can get really big to around 11 pounds and manage a whopping 200 eggs per year. But, as time passed, the unique looks of this chicken caught the sight of most enthusiasts causing it to make its way into poultry exhibitions.
Some of the features that made the Faverolle the undisputed champion include massive beards, fluffy plumage, feathered feet, and very unusual five toes rather than the standard four. In fact, this breed is one of the only five breeds with 5 toes, with the other four being the Silkie, Dorking, Houdan, and the Sultan.
About the color, the Faverolle is available in a wide range of colors with only Salmon and White being the only recognized colors. This chicken breed has a quiet disposition that makes it an excellent pet. The hens are quite broody and usually make excellent mothers.
Taking the second spot is the Sebright chicken. Now, the Sebright is one of the best-looking chickens that happen to be the easiest to identify. These chickens have a shape that consists of a prominent breast that protrudes forward while standing.
They also have a striking plumage that consists of gold and silver colors with feathers outlined with black color on the edges. Another noticeable feature of the Sebright that makes it ornamental is the large wings and fan-like tail that erects at an angle of 70 degrees to the body.
Perhaps these features are among the things that make the Sebright a competitive bird in most poultry shows. It’s also one of the true bantams to compete in most exhibitions making it one of the all-time greats.
But, despite being a competitive bird, the Sebright has several flaws. One of them is that they’re poor egg layers managing only 60-80 eggs per year. They hardly go broody and if they do, they’re not the best mothers thus exposing chicks to a high mortality rate. Nonetheless, Sebrights are genuinely friendly, active, and very docile.
The Cochin is among those chicken breeds that originated in Asia, most specifically China. Before it became a contender in the poultry exhibition, this chicken was formerly raised for eggs and meat thanks to its enormously large size. With males weighing 11 pounds and females 8.5 pounds, it’s easy to see why this chicken didn’t disappoint when raised for meat.
But, after decades of serving as a backyard chicken for meat production, the Cochin quickly gained popularity across the English region due to its unique features. One of those was its ball-like physique that was characterized by massive silky feathering across the body.
These fluffy feathers extend all the way to the feet to make the Cochin a charming chicken. Other than the feathers, this chicken breed is available in an assortment of cool colors such as black, brown, barred, buff and blue.
About the temperament, the Cochin has a quiet, gentle, and sociable temperament that makes it a popular breed among most show chicken breeders. The hens are fantastic broodies and due to their large size, they can be used to incubate duck and turkey eggs to hatch chicks.
4. Polish Chicken
Despite their name, Polish chickens are not from Poland. Actually, their name is derived from their sensational crest feathers that resemble the feathered headgear used by Polish warriors in the past. Now, the Polish chicken is a breed that makes an impression on anyone that sees it.
One of the interesting features of these birds is obviously the huge crust of feathers that covers their eyes to a point of limiting their vision. Although it might seem like a blessing in disguise, this feature is exactly what makes the Polish chicken a designer breed and, of course, a worthy contender in most poultry exhibitions.
Although it will depend on the judges, some people prefer to trim the feathers around the eyes to improve the vision and to prevent infections when the feathers get to the eyes. In fact, this is important as this breed is susceptible to attacks from air predators due to poor vision.
Other than that, the Polish chicken is available in myriad colors with golden laced, silver, blue, and buff laced being the most common. This bird is gentle and friendly and can lay 100-170 eggs per year.
Now, the Silkie or Silky is a unique-looking bird that has immense interesting features. Recognized as an Asiatic breed, this bird is believed to originate somewhere in Asia most particularly in China, Japan, and India. The Silkie is among the oldest chicken breeds in existence dating back to over two centuries back.
Back to its interesting features, the Silkie is the only bird that lacks barbicels. Barbicels are tiny hooks that allow chicken feathers to connect when growing. Since they don’t have these hooks, Silkie feathers grow all over the skin. These feathers are soft and fluffy and they resemble fur like the one found in mammals. Their soft silky feathers are in fact the reason why they were baptized “Silkies”.
But, other than their unique beautiful feathers, Silkies have other amazing features that make them true show chickens. Some of them include black skin, black bones, and five toes instead of the standard four.
The Silkies are peaceful and non-aggressive chickens that make great pets. They’re good egg layers, perfect natural incubators, and fantastic mothers. They come in many different colors with black, blue, grey, white and partridge being the most common.
6. Golden-Laced Wyandotte
The Golden-laced Wyandotte is another chicken breed that leaves much to be discussed. One of the interesting features these birds possess is their gorgeous striking colors that consist of gold-laced feathers. When I mention gold-laced feathers, I’m referring to brown-golden feathers highlighted with black color around the tips.
But, other than this common color, the Wyandotte is available in other striking color combinations that include silver-laced, black, red-laced, partridge, silver-penciled, and buff among others.
Other than its striking feathers, the Golden-Laced Wyandotte has yellow skin, yellow shanks, a red face, and red wattles. With these features under its belt, this chicken breed is quite beautiful making it among the successful contenders in most poultry exhibitions.
In your backyard, the Golden-Laced Wyandotte will lay around 170-250 eggs annually making it a sturdy egg layer. It’s also calm and friendly and mostly likes talking a lot making it quite noisy. This breed is hardy and excels in cold climates, as it’s not susceptible to frostbites.
7. Modern Game Bantam
The Modern Game Bantam is another chicken breed that has squeezed its way into our list of the best show chickens in the world. Now, by the looks, it’s easy to tell that this chicken breed was once a fighter. Looking back to history, this bird was truly used for cockfighting back in the 1800s.
However, when this sport was outlawed, this chicken was turned into an ornamental bird due to its unique appearance. When I speak of unique appearance, what I mean is the slender body, upright posture, strong claws, shiny feathers, and long bare legs.
With such features, the Modern Game Bantam can’t fail to get noticed. About its body, this bird is slender and light. For that reason, it cannot be raised for meat production. It’s also a poor egg layer meaning it can’t be raised for eggs. For these two reasons, the Modern Game Bantam is strictly an ornamental bird that’s raised for poultry shows and exhibitions. These birds are available in wheaten, blue, black, and white colors.
When you hear of the Yokohama, the first thing that comes to your mind is a chicken breed that originated in Japan. Well, the truth of the matter is that this bird was bred in Germany and then England in the 1800s. But, despite being bred in Europe, we can’t deny the fact that the Yokohama is a crossbreed of two ornamental birds brought from Japan. These are the Shokokus and the Shamos.
Now, away from its breeding, the Yokohama is a chicken breed that makes an excellent show and exhibition bird. One of the major features of this bird is the incredibly long tail feathers that grow about 3 feet each year.
These wispy feathers (that appear in both roosters and hens) are the main reason why this bird is a must-watch in any exhibition show. These birds also have short walnut-colored combs that add to their immaculate looks. Unlike most chicken breeds with furry feathers, the Yokohama doesn’t have feathering on the legs.
About their plumage, Yokohama chickens are available in a variety of colors that include white, gold, silver, buff, spangled, black, blue-red, and red-saddled.
9. Barbu D’Uccle
The unique sported markings on the Barbu D’Uccle are just among the features that squeeze it on the list of amazing show chickens to watch out for. Just as its name suggests, this chicken breed originated in Belgium and is a result of crossing the Dutch Booted Bantam and the Antwerp Belgium. In fact, the Barbu D’Uccle is among the few true bantams that have made it on our list.
Now, the Barbu D’Uccle has a rich color profile that consists of black, blue, white, lavender, porcelain, and quail. However, the mille fleur is the most desirable color among most enthusiasts and the main reason for its huge acceptance as an ornamental bird.
But, despite its beautiful plumage, the Barbu D’Uccle has fluffy legs, muffs, beards, and a U-shaped tail that’s easy to identify.
Regarding their temperament, these Belgian birds are delightfully friendly and will frequently perch on your shoulders to get some snacks. They’re good mothers and excellent layers that produce around 175-250 tiny eggs a year.
10. Frizzle Chicken
If you’re surprised to see the furry feathers of the Silkie, then I think you’ll be flabbergasted by the outlandish looks of the Frizzle chicken. I don’t know whether to call it amazing or strange, but the Frizzle has unique feathers that curl upwards and away from the body. If you’re a fan of animated movies, you’ll think this chicken breed stepped on a live wire and got electrocuted.
Nonetheless, the features of this chicken breed are the main reason why show chicken breeders consider it an exhibition bird. This breed is available in both standard and bantam varieties giving you a chance to raise it depending on the size of your backyard.
Though a designer breed, the Frizzle is only considered a plumage and not a standard breed in the USA. So, if you’re presenting it in the USA, you have to identify it from the mother breed it hatched from, in this case, the Silkie, Polish, or Cochin. However, this is not an issue in Europe where it’s recognized as a standard breed.
11. Brahma Chicken
The Brahma chicken is a breed that was exclusively bred for meat production. That’s all thanks to its massive and enormous size. In fact, its huge size is one of the reasons why this breed because a show chicken in the US and UK. If you’re raising it as a pet, the Brahma will automatically become the largest member of your flock.
But other than its intimidating size, the Brahma has an erect posture and fluffy feathers that cover its legs including the toes. This breed is recognized in three common colors that include light, dark, and buff. Regardless of the color, Brahmas have black tails except for the Buff Brahma which has buff lacing on its tail.
About the personality, the Brahma chicken is quiet, gentle, and very friendly though the massive size can be intimidating to kids. The hens usually make good mothers though they rarely get broody. These chickens are hardy meaning they can survive cold climates.
12. Houdan Chicken
Last but not least, we have the Houdan chicken. Just like most of the breeds we’ve discussed, the Houdan has an incredibly beautiful and fluffy plumage that makes it resemble the Polish chicken. These chickens are available in either black or white with splashes of black on white being a rare color among them.
Now, if you can remember, we discussed the only five chicken breeds with unusual five toes. If you can get back to the top, you’ll notice that we had included the Houdan on the list. Indeed, this breed has five toes instead of the standard four.
Adding its beards and V-shaped crest to the list makes the Houdan a very interesting bird and a serious contender in most poultry exhibitions.
Just like most exhibition fancy chickens, the Houdan is a gentle, calm, quiet, and friendly bird that enjoys being around humans. The hens can lay 100-170 eggs per year and they rarely get broody.
The era of raising chickens for meat and eggs is long gone. Much like dogs, chickens have diversified to a point of featuring in poultry shows and exhibitions. While some breeds are considered sweet and beautiful, others are considered designer and quite rare.
In this guide, we’ve discussed the twelve best-looking chickens of all time. These birds are not only stunning but they also have unique features that set them apart from the rest. Most of them are docile, friendly, and peaceful making them quite easy to handle.
When it comes to maintenance, I’ll honestly admit that these birds aren’t the easiest to maintain. Thankfully, we’ve added a section where we’ve listed some raising tips you can consider when dealing with these birds.
So, are you serious about winning poultry exhibitions and shows? Well, we believe that this guide has offered you substantial information regarding show chicken breeds.
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Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!