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Ruffling feathers: 4-Hers show off market chickens, fancy poultry

With their chickens lined up on a table, the 4-Hers wait nervously as judge Tim Bowles walks up and down the line and inspects the animals. He asks a couple questions and then moves to the next person.

After a while, Bowles hands a slip of paper to the announcer who tells the crowd who has won.

The procedure is done once for each class in the market chicken category and then again for the fancy poultry. After that is done, the first-place winners are brought out again to find out who wins the showmanship category.

The market chickens were judged based on how much meat they had on them and are brought out in pairs so they can be judged on cuts of meat.

Wyatt Stallo, of the Greasy Ridge Gang 4-H club, said he did not expect to win grand champion in the market chicken category for his two birds.

“Definitely not,” he said, adding he had no clue why the judge liked his bird. “He told me they were different. He liked how tight the breast was on the birds. And they matched well.”

Although he has been in 4-H since he was in Cloverbuds, this was his first year of showing chickens. And since he won, he will probably show again next year.

“Most likely,” he said.

Reserve champion in the market poultry category and reserve champion in the fancy poultry category went to Noah Hessler, of the Scottown Farmers and Farmerettes 4-H club, who has been showing for six years.

He said it is a bit hard to pick a baby chicken in hopes that it will be a champion bird.

“There is certain stuff I like, what I look for,” he said. “Like coloring, fullness of the feathers, leg length.”

The fancy poultry was judged on appearance. There were different breeds being judged at the same time but not against each other but against established standards for their particular breed.

Alex Walker, 10, of the Power Ranchers 4-H group, took grand champion in fancy poultry.

“I’ve been in 4-H my entire life. This is my first year showing chickens in the fair,” he said. But he does raise 38 chickens on the family farm. “I can’t believe I won champion.”

Walker also won for junior showmanship.

“I just did not believe it,” he said. “It was just amazing.”

Daniel Mootz, of the Starlight 4-H group, took the showmanship award in the senior division and has been showing chickens for three years and goats for six years.

“It was unexpected,” he said of his win. “I raise chickens at home, but I’ve never really shown them that much. So, I was not expecting it.

Friday, he will be part of the Showman of Showmen contest.