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Tips for Raising Show Chickens


A White Silkie RoosterRaising show chickens requires dedication and commitment: For the first few weeks, it’s an around-the-clock job. But preparing and maintaining a chicken-friendly environment, as well as providing a consistent healthy diet, pays off by producing champion feathered fowl.

Housing Your Show Chickens

Prize birds should be raised in stress-free environments with plenty of ventilation and a regulated temperature (see chart below). Additionally, chicks should have plenty of space and feel safe from predators.

Because chickens are vulnerable to temperature extremes, pay close attention to the thermostat so they don’t become heat stressed or have to expend energy warming up. If you see birds huddled tightly in small groups under the brooder, the temperature is likely too low. If they are panting or are spread out on the edge, the temperature is probably too high. The following chart from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers temperature guidelines for broilers.

Age (Days) Broilers (F°)
Day Night
0-4 88 90
4-8 86 88
8-14 84 86
14-21 82 84
21-30 80 82
30-35 78 78
35 on 76 78
Over 10 weeks -- --

Feeding and Watering

Blue Silkie HenOffering clean water and fresh food rank equal to providing a stress-free environment when ensuring your chickens’ success. Without sufficient water, birds won’t eat. And without continuous food consumption, they won’t be able to reach their maximum genetic potential. In fact, birds grow so quickly that going without food even for a few hours can permanently alter their ultimate body size. To encourage your chickens to eat a series of small meals throughout the day, try stimulating them to eat by calmly shaking the feed or running your hands through their trough.

During the first week, place feed in a flat pan, but afterward, serve it from a feeding trough adjusted to the chickens’ chest height. Be sure the feeding trough is long enough so that each bird has adequate room to eat - they shouldn’t feel too crowded or have to compete with fellow chickens for limited resources. And always store feed away from exposure to heat, moisture and sunlight, which can deteriorate the food’s vitamins.

Record Keeping

Taking daily notes on environmental information like temperature, humidity and feed consumption, as well as weight gain and your birds’ overall health, will help you make better decisions as they grow and will improve your management practices next year.

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Poultry Care Series

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