Here's an example of backyard Rhode Island Red chickens. The backyard Rhode Island Reds have a lighter color and feathers aren't in as good condition as show-quality birds.
photo credit: sammydavisdog via photopin cc
|via Wikimedia Commons.|
There are many places to get purebred or show quality chicks.
The big hatcheries. These are fine for backyard poultry but iffy for purebred birds. My understanding is most buy their hatching eggs. Therefore they have no control over the breeding and quality of the birds.
Swaps. Most people selling at swap are good and honest, don’t understand the concept of purebred poultry. Ask where they got the birds or breeding stock. Find someone from the area and ask if they know the person’s reputation.
Craigslist and other online sellers. This can go either way. Ask the same questions as at a swap.
Local breeders. By far the best. You will be able to drive to their house and talk to them. They are also able to give advice on raising that particular breed of bird.
While you are at the show talk to other exhibitors to get leads for next year
Advice. If they have a multi-page color brochure, can’t tell you where they got the birds or don't know about the breeders stay away for your show birds.
Buying quality birds from breeders with good reputations is a start, but birds can still develop crooked toes or broken feathers that could affect their chances when they show. As an exhibitor, you need to coax them along and make sure they're in top shape.
And always remember the old advice: "Don't buy the best chick from a bad flock."
As always, post further questions in the comment section.
--Dale, aka Turkeyman