Most clubs offer a special show for juniors.  Check the catalog but this is generally for people 18 or under.  If you want to compete against other people under 18 be sure you indicate this by checking the JR box on your entry form.  

Kids can, but are not required to enter the junior show.  If they want they can compete in the open show against adults.  Any bird owned by a junior must go into one or the other category, it can not got into both. 

Shows may offer showmanship programs for the kids. The open Junior show is bird vs bird.  Showmanship classes are about preparation on a juniors part.  The kids are tested on their knowledge and management skills.  An excellent article can be found on Uconn’s web at
There may be a spot on the entry form to Pre register your child for showmanship if you wish.  

Some shows may ask for a photocopy of your Pullorum paperwork mailed in with your entry.  Send only a copy not the real thing.  Keep the original on you, as the State may be present at check in to be sure that all birds entered are tested.

If you are still unsure you have correctly filled out your entry form I suggest you contact the show Secretary, as in the end it will save everyone from confusion at coop-in time.  

Prior to the show you have some work to do.  You will need to be sure the birds you choose are free of mites and lice.  It’s a very unpopular move to bring a bird to the show hall that has bugs.  Even worse if the judge disapproves and marks your coop tag: “MITES”.    You might have just left your fly undone.  So be sure to closely inspect under the hackles, wings and tail of your birds for these critters.  Chickens and mites go together like peanut butter and jelly.  It is not uncommon to have them.  Your job is to keep them away.  

A fabulous but dirty and dull bird will not win against a clean but just ok bird.  In most cases all birds entered into the show have been washed.  Washing birds is best done a few days ahead of the show as this gives the bird time to oil and straighten out all her feathers.  

A description of how to wash a chicken can be found here:

Now you’re ready for the big day.  Be sure to leave yourself enough drive time to get there. The judging does not wait for late people.  The show starts at “Coop-In” time.  The term Coop-In means the time the exhibitor must have his bird in the coop for the judges’ inspection.  You will need to factor in how much time is needed prior to Coop-In to prepare your bird for the judge.  For most people this is about an hour.

Once you get to the show hall you may be stopped at the door by a state inspector who is checking your paperwork. He will peek into your boxes looking for obvious signs of disease.   Some States do not send inspectors to shows, others do.  Once you get through the door head to the check in table to pick up an exhibitor’s list.  

On the exhibitors list you will look for your name and personal exhibitor number.  Then you will head off to find the Bantam Cochin row.  If you can’t find the Cochin isle just ask the first person you see if they know.  Once you have arrived in the Cochin row look at each tag until you find your exhibitor number.  Make sure the pullets go in the pullet cages and your hen’s go in the hens cages and so on.   With your birds all in their assigned cages its now time to find the cups and get them watered.  If you want to save some time, consider bringing your own cups and a gallon of water from home.  

Now with whatever time you have left before coop in you will prepare for the judge’s arrival.  Its clean and shine time !  Remove any droppings from the bottom of your bird’s feet.  Bring a clean silk cloth to stroke over top of bird, this will help bring out the birds natural sheen.  Watch what the other exhibitors are doing.  You will quickly learn tricks to make your bird gleam.

Now its time to enjoy the show.  The judges will get around to your breed in time.  Feel free to silently watch the judge work.  Do so at a distance as it is considered disrespectful to get too close to the judge while he is working.  It also extremely improper to ask the judge a question while he or she is working.  You must wait until after the judge is finished for the day before asking about your bird.  However that should not stop you from asking your fellow White Cochin Breeder what they think !

You will learn by asking questions !  You will find most people are happy to help you.  Occasionally you will run into a grumpy exhibitor, if you do just keep moving and ask the next person.  

As you have read entering a show requires some effort.   Any winning chickens you see are a direct reflection of the hard work put in by the bird’s owner. 
Cheryl Barnaba Show Sect Northeastern Poultry Congress

Information For Visitors and New Exhibitors 

If you are  interested in attending the Northeastern Poultry Congress Show here are some things you should know:   

The Show is a two day event.  It is held yearly on Saturday and Sunday of the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday weekend in January.  The location is the Mallory Building on the Big E Fairgrounds in West Springfield Ma.  

Visitors to the Show are Welcome !  The admission is free.  There is a food vendor and picnic tables right inside the building.  There is a Chinese raffle offering  donated items ranging from poultry related collectables and supplies, to fresh baked goods.  Rafle tickets can be purchased throughout the weekend.  Donations are appreciated and can be dropped off at the show.

Day visitors will not require a show book to attend the show.  The information that follows is intended to give the visitor all the knowledge that is necessary to attend the show.  Show Booklets, or Show Catalogs as we call them are for people who intend to exhibit birds and include an entry form.  They cost a good deal to print and mail, so we ask that people who do not wish to exhibit their poultry please use the on-line catalog for viewing and printing. 

First time exhibitors are encouraged to bring their birds to the Northeastern Poultry Congress.  If you think you would like to exhibit, then by all means request a show catalog, or print it from the website.  Your entry must be received before the stated deadline.  You can not enter the day of the show.  You must have your birds tested by your State Veterinarian’s Office.  You will need to make the appointment to have your birds tested well before the show, as your state inspectors are busy.  Once tested you will receive a Pullorum Clean Certificate by mail which is good for one year.  Make photo copies of this paperwork and attach them to your entry form.  You will need to have your entries in on time (consult your show booklet for the date) this is generally the end of December.  Late entry’s will be returned.  No one without an entry will be allowed to show birds.

A two day show generally boils down to a day and a half of fun for the visitor.  Friday all day, and Saturday morning by 9:00 am is “coop in”.  This is the hour before the judging starts when exhibitors put the final polishing touches on their birds.  Judging begins around 9:30 and runs until about 4:00p.m. on Saturday.  Sunday Morning the doors are open to the public at 8:00. The judges will be busy choosing the Show Champions.  After that (around 10:00 am) the final calculations are run in the office.  Winners are generally announced around 10a.m.  Coop out is the time directly after this in which exhibitors are allowed to remove their birds from the Show Hall and travel back home.  All exhibitors are required to leave their birds cooped until they are released by show personnel  after the awards presentation.   All exhibitors should remove their feed and water cups from cages and pull coop tags when cooping out.  The remainder of the day on Sunday is dedicated to clean up.  Help is always needed for tear down.  

The best day to attend the show is Saturday.  In fact Saturday Morning promises the most action with the most exhibitors on hand.  If you are looking to make contacts, browse the show, or buy sale birds Saturday is by far the best day.   These birds are sold by exhibitors.  No outside sales are permitted.  That means that only exhibitors will be allowed to sell their birds.  All these sale birds have been pullorum tested before entering the show hall. Only Exhibitors may offer birds for sale.

Northeastern Poultry Congress Show is fortunate to host an all single tiered show which presents the poultry to their best advantage.  We have the space to offer wide isles that accommodate large number of visitors and exhibitors.  The Mallory building is New England’s premiere exhibitor livestock show hall.  It is well lit, and well heated.  

The Northeastern Poultry Congress has Classes for Large Fowl, Bantams, Waterfowl, and Turkeys.  We generally have around 2000 fowl at the show.  Making the Northeastern Poultry Congress Show the biggest show in New England.  All our birds are all judged by licensed Judges. 

We also have a very nice Junior program.  Kids 18 and under can compete with their birds in a special Junior show.  Also we offer a Junior Showmanship competition, a Junior Judging contest, and a skill-a-thon contest.  In 2006 we had the biggest Junior show ever in New England.  We attract lots of families to the Northeastern Poultry Congress, a fact that we are quite proud of.  The keeping of exhibition fowl is a great family pass time.

One question we get asked is “can I watch the judging”?  The answer is yes; but:  We ask that you watch the judging from one isle over or with a respectful distance of about 12 -15 feet away.  Questions are not allowed of the judge until his or her work is done.  That means after the judges have picked Champions on Sunday.  If you have questions about how the judging is working ask the person next to you who is watching to explain it to you.  If you are just browsing the aisles, please be aware of where a judge may be working and keep a respectful distance.

Beginners to exhibition Poultry frequently come to the show to learn more about the hobby.  A prudent newcomer will walk up and down the isles and look the birds over.  They will note which breeds interest them.  Then, it’s question time.  A beginner needs to know facts about the breed he or she is interested in.  All breeds of fowl have good points and bad points.  

Before choosing a breed you need to find out what your local zoning laws require.  If you are fortunate to have the necessary land, then you should start asking yourself these questions: What type of housing does the breed I like need?   For example white birds are going to require very clean conditions.  Can you keep them on fresh grass?  Breeds with feathers on their feet require a lot of clean shavings.  Are you able to afford buying shavings, do you have the time to frequently change them?  

Another important point is the personality of the birds.  Some breeds are vigorous, strong, and sometimes flighty.  Others are sweet, gentle and perhaps demanding.  Different people like different type birds.  Find out what personality the birds you like have.

Exhibition birds will need to be tame to some degree.  They must be comfortable in a show cage for the weekend.  All birds in the show hall who act calm in a show cage have been “cage trained”.  This means some exhibitor has spent time teaching that bird that cages are not bad or scary.  If a bird flaps wildly to escape when the judge reaches in to remove it, that bird most likely will not show well. 

Another very important question to ask yourself is how much space do I really have?  If you only have a small amount of space you will behoove yourself by raising Bantams.  Sticking with one breed will also help in maximizing your space.  

If you’re considering Waterfowl you must be conscience of their specific needs.  Ducks are very specific needs.  How are you going to handle that in the Winter? 

Cleanliness is of utmost importance if you are going to win with exhibition poultry.  You and your birds will be miserable if your initial choices are not well thought out.  

If you think that exhibition poultry is for you than you will need to acquire show quality breeding stock.  “Show quality breeding stock” are birds that come with as few faults as possible.  It’s much easier to make a good start with birds purchased from a reputable breeder/exhibitor.  

Both the American Bantam Association and the American Poultry Association have books called the Standard of Perfection.  These books include a detailed standard for each breed.  Every aspect of the chicken is assigned points.  The bird with the best features will have the largest number of points.  These books are an important reference to all exhibitors of poultry, new and old alike.  

A new exhibitor should consider purchasing one of these books to use as a guide when acquiring new stock.  You will need to know, for example, that lack of a spur on a Modern Game Cock is a default.  A trait such as this is carried on in a line and is very undesirable.  

Now you have done your reading, and you have figured out which breed is for you, how do you find “good quality stock”?   The best way to start with good birds is to find a reputable breeder.  This is a person who wants to see you do well and will not send you home with birds that are of pet quality.  They are men and woman who are dedicated to the breed or breeds they work with.  Ask around.  If you are looking for good Brahmas, ask at the show who has the best of the breeds you are interested in.  

When you arrive at the show go to the office and ask for an exhibitors list.  The numbers on the show coops correspond with the name of the exhibitor on the list.  This is a guide that will help you find a breeder you may be looking for.  In general everyone is very friendly and happy to help you find the person you are looking for.  

Acquiring show quality breeding stock takes time patience, and research.   It is unlikely that you will simply attend your first show and come home with a trio of birds that will give you winning results for years to come.   You need to know that the birds you purchased to breed from contain as few faults as possible.  Then you will need to raise your young to see what that breeding produced.  The best advice is simply to purchase the best quality birds that you can to start with.  You may have to wait a bit to get those birds.

It is also very helpful to have a mentor.  A person who can help you see the nuances of the breed.  This person will help you to see things you never saw even though you have been looking.  They will help you with your other poultry related questions.  A good mentor is a great thing. 

There will be many pet quality birds as well as show quality birds for sale.  The best birds usually sell out first.  Birds generally sell between 5.00 dollars and 50.00 dollars each.  Avoid buying birds that may be dirty, or over crowded.  All sale birds should have food and water available.

What about rare breeds?  Buttercups, Lakenvelders, White Faced Black Spanish, and Delaware are considered rare breeds just to name a few.  Similar to breeds of dogs, breeds of chickens go in and out of fashion.  When was the last time you saw a Gordon Setter for example.  There are both good reasons and bad reasons for getting involved in a breed that is considered Rare.  If you are planning on showing you will probably not have any competition if your breed is Dorkings.  You may be the only lonely exhibitor of Dorkings.  If you’re a good salesman you can attract others to the breed and get a following.  Then you would have a group to compete with.  However in reality it is quite difficult to do so.  Just ask the Dominque people.  Loneliness aside, it is nice to work with a breed that may be threatened with extinction.  You could be one of the few people in the country working with this breed.  In essence being a savior of that breed.

On the other hand a beginner may want to avoid choosing a breed where the competition is fierce.  Choosing Black Old English as your first breed would be quite difficult for example, with perhaps 50 to 100 being shown in that variety.  A new person may want to consider a breed that has just a medium amount of competition.  Breeds such as Hamburgs, Cornish, Japanese, Polish, and Sumatra’s are good examples of a less difficult breed to compete in.  

Well, we hope that we have answered your questions and helped you with your future in chickens.  If you have any additional questions please feel free to email us    

Click here to Learn how to read a Coop Tag and See an Example Entry Form
Exactly How to Enter a Chicken Show

So you have decided that you want to get more involved in Exhibition Poultry. Perhaps this article can help you get started.

The first thing you will need to do is get your bird’s pullorum tested.  The testing protocol varies from state to state with some states also testing for Avian Influenza.  To find an inspector contact your State’s Agricultural Department.  The key thing to making this call is the time frame.  Like most employees these day’s inspectors have more work and less help.  Give them at least 1 month prior to your show to get the job done. Even more time is better.  

In most states the inspector will travel to you home to take blood samples.  The best way to prepare for your first round of testing is to make the job as easy as possible.  Have your birds set up in a temporary holding pen before the inspector arrives. It’s a good idea to tidy your coops up a bit.  Your inspector will be impressed that you manage your flock well. 

Be considerate and give your inspector a place to sit out of the weather.  He will also appreciate a place to put his testing equipment and a garbage pail for his trash.  These things are not necessary but will make it a more pleasant experience for both of you.

Don’t expect the inspector to be the bird catcher.  That’s your job.  You catch the bird, hand it to the inspector and then move it to a larger cage with all the other birds that have been done.  

The tester will draw a blood sample from under your bird’s wing.  That sample will be labeled and a corresponding band that goes on your bird’s leg.  If Avian Influenza testing is needed the tester may swab the bird’s throats as well.

Losing a bird to a blood draw is rare.  However it can happen.  Some breeds of birds are more prone to bleeding than others.  Generally given some time the birds coagulate just fine.  If they seem stressed toss in a bit of scratch feed to take their minds off what just happened to them.

Your paperwork will come to you about a week or so after the blood draws.  You will get a pullorum free card or paperwork stating that your birds have been tested negative.  Your Pullorum test will be good for one year.  Avian Influenza testing is good for however long your state says it is.  This could be 10 days to one year.  

Navigating these rules is not too difficult once you get used to them.  If you need further clarification of the rules you should contact the your State, not the Show management.  

Finding where the shows are located can be a bit tricky.  Publications such as Back Yard Poultry and the Poultry Press list upcoming shows in your area. is an excellent forum with a special section for shows.  

Once you have found out where and when the show is you need to contact the Show Sectary for a Catalog.  

Once you have found out where and when the show is you need to get hold of a catalog. If the club has web pages you may be able to find a downloadable catalog.  If not you need to call or write to the Clubs Show secretary.   Try downloading first as postage and printing are some of the shows biggest expenses.
Catalogs are printed for exhibitors and are too costly to print for curious people.

A show will either be a one-day event or a two-day event.  A one-day show packs in everything in well, one day.  One-day shows are generally held on a Sunday.  A two day show adds an extra social dimension as Saturday gives exhibitors a chance to hang out and enjoy friends.  The second day of a two-day show is usually Sunday and is usually short.  The Champions will be selected on Sunday morning of a two-day show.  Some time after that all the records are tallied the awards handed out and folks coop-out.  

Once you get your catalog or booklet the first thing you need to establish is what the requirements for entry are.  For example some shows have strict Avian Influenza rules.  It’s your job to check the rules.   Then double-check to be sure the testing you just had done was correct.

Now that you are certain that you have done the required testing, its time to figure out “who” to bring.  If you have 25 White Bantam Cochins you should pick the best and leave the rest.  

Do not enter any birds that are in poor condition.  They will never beat a bird in good condition.  This includes birds with broken feathers, and badly frostbitten combs.  If your birds are not feeling well please don’t risk spreading it to your fellow fanciers.  This includes droopy or sneezing birds.  Leave any birds home that are anemic due to lice or mite infestations.  If you ever feel the need to vaccinate your birds you MUST follow the manufacturers instructions.  Do not enter any birds from your home during the 30 day vaccination quarantine period.   

Enter only your purebred birds.  Crossbred birds and production birds cannot compete with birds that are of exhibition quality. And don’t worry, the girls you left home will remember their sisters and aunts when they return home.

Now that you have picked which birds to bring to the show its time to fill out the entry form and mail it in.  It’s very important that you do not leave this task to the last minute.  

The show secretary then takes what you have written on your entry form and makes an individual entry for each of your birds on the judges sheets.  A coop tag is then made for each one of your birds.  If it’s a 2000 bird show you’re talking a lot of work for the clubs secretary.

Entry forms vary from show to show.   The first thing you should note is the deadline for entry.  

Show Secretaries do this work because they are nice.  This is not a paid position.  Waiting until the last minute to send in your entry form only adds to the volume of work that has to be done.  

If you submit your entry after the deadline you probably will not be accepted at all.  Most Secretaries are not afraid to refuse late entries as they have given you enough time to do your part already.

The entry form will have a place to indicate if your bird is a Large fowl or a Bantam.  You will have to write in the Breed and then the color.  It is up to you to know this information.  If you leave this section blank or vague your bird may end up in the wrong part of the show hall. Your White Bantam Cochins may be in the same row as the Large Fowl Cochins. This is why it’s important to be accurate on your entry form.  If you don’t know what you own then it’s your responsibility to find out.  

The form will also ask you the age of the bird (s) you are entering.  This may sound like a simple thing but if you get the sex wrong it a big problem come coop-in time.  

How to enter a Poultry Show 
How to Read A Coop Tag
See an Example Entry Form