In 1773, on his second voyage to New Zealand, James Cook gave hens to Māori in both the North and South islands. Missionaries in the Bay of Islands were the first recorded poultry farmers in 1814. Many early settlers had a few hens in the backyard to supply eggs. Chicken meat was a luxury, eaten perhaps only once or twice a year – often a non-laying hen or old rooster.

Poultry is a descriptive term for the domesticated breeds of birds including chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guinea fowl and quail that are farmed for their meat and eggs. In New Zealand, chickens are by far the largest group of farmed birds. A small number of enterprises farm turkey, ducks and other species such as quail.

Today’s chickens are descended from jungle fowl, which originated in Asia and have been domesticated for several thousand years. Meat chickens are selectively bred for good feed conversion ratios and body conformation. The two main breeds farmed in New Zealand are Ross, and Cobb.

The New Zealand poultry industry also includes table egg production.

The poultry section has always been a colourful section in The Shows history with families exhibiting a wide variety of birds. It is a popular section as it is reasonably inexpensive at entry level and a great hobby for the young. We encourage youth to participate from both urban and rural homes, it is a fun competition with lots of learning and ribbon opportunities.