Chickens rule roost at poultry show

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Steve Schafer came to the Moffat County Fair this week not to show animals, but to show children how to show animals.

The 4-H youth specialist from the University of Wyoming judged poultry on Friday. His pupils were all ears.

"Can you show me the wings of the chicken?" Schafer asked children holding their birds. "Even showing the wings, you must keep their legs straight and their heads straight."

Dru Nielson, an 11-year-old from Craig struggled with his Rhode Island Red, named Big Mama. The bird just wouldn't stand still.

"Showmanship is a team sport," Schafer said to the crowd. "His chicken let him down today."

He praised the children on their showing.

"For first timers, you were all calm and cool," Schafer said. "Just work on the teamwork thing."

Nielson is under some pressure to have his chicken do well. His entries were limited by unfortunate events.

"I'm hoping we do good. She's one of my only chickens that didn't get feathers picked out by my duck," he said. "I've got ducks too."

Judge Schafer continued the routine, running the children, and their birds, through their paces.

"Can you show us the width of the bird?" he asked. Next, the children showed the bird's tail, breast and undercolor.

All the while, exhibitors struggled to keep their birds calm, while twisting and turning them at the commands of the judge.

Beyond showing off the birds to the judge, the contestants are required to know information about the chickens.

"What kind of chicken have you got there?" Schafer asked 8-year-old Samantha Pearce.

"A Red Rhode Island?" she answered. She has only had her chicken, Pakeecho, for 5 months.

This is her third time showing at the fair.

Schafer helped kids through the judging, giving tips and calming nerves.

He judges the birds on thickness and fullness, he said. The straightness of the breast is also important.

He also looks at feather and comb quality.

"What do you call a 5-month-old female chicken?" Schafer asked Pearce.

"A pullet," she answered.

Cheers from the small crowd calmed her nerves.

Pearce left the competition with a ribbon.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com

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