Several Tioga County residents entered birds in the 38th annual Delmarva Poultry Fanciers show, held April 5-6 in Harrington, Delaware.
Michelle Sepiol, Derick Remley, Heidi and Dylan Dingman, Rachiel Nowakowski, and Amy and Matt Shuey showed birds at the event.
However, the chickens were not the kind of birds you might see in a typical backyar or farm.
Tioga County residents who showed their chickens at the 38th annual Delmarva Poultry Fanciers show, held April 5-6 in Harrington, Del., included, from left, Dylan Dingman, of Gaines; Rachiel Nowakowski, of Gaines; and Matt Shuey, of Sabinsville.
Derik Remley, left, and Rachiel Nowakowski won champion honors at the 38th annual Delmarva Poultry Fanciers show earlier this month.
"Months and months of preparation go into raising and making a winning bird," Sepiol said in an email, "from the time of the selected mating and the hatching of that egg and growing the chick.
"The selection, feed, care, facilities and the grooming all are part of making the future champion,"?she added.
Beaks and toenails are trimmed and owners watch out for any evidence of parasites or health issues.
Housing facilities must protect the birds from extreme cold, sun bleaching, each other and predators.
"Birds are handled and trained to display at their best in individual display cages at shows and be handled by people, something that is against a chicken's nature," Sepiol said. "They even get baths!"
In the world of poultry fanciers, many species and varieties of birds are exhibited. From chickens and turkeys to waterfowl and doves, birds are categorized by species - such as bantam fowl chicken - then by class - such as feather leg - then by breed - d'Uccle - then by variety - Millie Fleur, Sepiol said.
Further classes separate the birds by sex and age.
An entry must beat all the birds in its respective sex class in its breed and variety. The bird then is judged for the best of all the variety, regardless of age and sex.
Then it is judged for the best of breed. A bird may compete against 50 to 100 birds in a breed division.
Finally, in a breed type division, there may be more breeds, classes and varieties. In the case of the feather legs, Sepiol said, nine breeds compete for the overall title, best feather leg champion.
The last placing in a show is the show champion, in which the champion of all the champions is selected.
Licensed judges are hired to judge and select the winners. Glenn See, Doug Cauthorne and Rick Hare were the judges for the Delaware show.
Unlike a class of horses or cattle, poultry judging takes hours. Every bird is examined and handled. It is awarded points from its head to its toes and then back again to see if it meets the "ideal standard" for its breed, type and variety, according to the American Poultry Association and or the American Bantam Association.
While they wait, poultry exhibitors may visit the raffle table or silent auction, tailgate or check out the in-house sales, vendor displays and of the other birds. They also share tips and experiences with others who share their interests, Sepiol said.
Area residents who attended the show included:
Matt Shuey, of Sabinsville, who exhibited a pair of call ducks, snowy variety. The male, or cock, placed best of variety and his hen placed reserve best of variety. He also placed best of variety for his bantam light brahma hen; reserve variety, bantam light brahma cock; and reserve best of variety, bantam buff laced Polish hen.
Dylan's sister, Rachiel Nowakowski, placed second in senior showmanship. She won best of variety with her white-crested blue Polish hen and reserve junior Polish with her hen, Missy. Her crown jewel win was with Mary, a white-crested black Polish hen that she bred and raised. Mary won best of variety, best of breed, best junior Polish and champion continental.
For more information on poultry shows, visit www.poultryshowcentral.com.