Best of breed: which breeds of chicken are best for shows?

There are many reasons why people keep chickens and as the hobby is fairly addictive once you have a trio of birds you’ll soon be finding reasons to expand your flock!

Many people start with keeping a well-known breed purely for eggs or companionship but keeping chickens for shows or exhibitions is becoming increasingly popular.

The Poultry Club of Great Britain is the governing body for poultry shows in this country and you can find a wealth of information about shows on their website.

How to choose a chicken breed

You can show any breed of chicken that has a recognised breed standard but there are some breeds that are more popular than others.

The best way to decide which breed is right for you is to visit a few poultry shows and see which breed most appeals to you. Choosing a breed that is known for its docile temperament is also good advice until you become more experienced.

You should also consider where you are going to keep your show birds. Birds are usually kept indoors or on wood shavings for a short time in preparation for a show but their day-to-day needs to be thought of.

For example, breeds with feathery feet such as the Silkie and the Pekin do poorly in muddy conditions, so you may want to invest in a purpose built chicken house and run for your show birds that is easy to move around your garden.

Top five picks for poultry fanciers:


  1. Brahma

Often known as the “King of poultry” the Brahma is a large, striking looking bird with docile temperaments making them ideal for the first time chicken exhibitor.

They first came to the UK in 1852 when nine birds were sent to Queen Victoria as a gift.


  1. Dutch bantam

These tiny birds are considered to be one of the most attractive breeds of chicken available – they really are small but perfectly formed!

The breed was first introduced to Great Britain in the 1960s and has since increased in popularly enormously with over 13 colours now recognised in the breed standard.


  1. Pekin bantam

Another small chicken, this breed is a genuine bantam meaning that there is no large fowl variety.

Their pretty features, docile nature, and small size mean they are often the first choice of new poultry fanciers and are a fantastic breed if you want to introduce children into the world of poultry showing.


  1. Buff Orpington

This breed was famously kept by the Queen Mother, and are one of the most popular heavy breeds of chicken in the UK.

There are several colours other than the sandy “buff” and again, they are known for their docile temperament and low maintenance care needs.


  1. Orloff

The Orloff is a very upright breed that originated in Iran and made its way to the UK in the 1800s.

There are a variety of colours available but the breed is usually judged on its type and character, particularly its head, rather than plumage colour.