Feathered friends

4-H club preparing for 2006 Moffat County Fair

Members of the 4-H Feathered Friends Poultry Club know just about everything there is to know about their birds.

"I have expectations of making sure that they know their stuff," said Kathy Oberwitte, who leads the group.

The information members need to know ranges from the class, breed and variety of bird to feeding and caring for the birds.

"I want them to succeed," Oberwitte said. "I don't want them to stand in front of a judge and not have an answer."

She said the members of the poultry club are judged on how much they know about their animals.

Judges' questions can be about the history of the bird's class, such as geographical origin, or even what the major use of the bird is.

The club doesn't just deal with chickens, Oberwitte said. Club members can also enter turkeys, geese and ducks.

Oberwitte said that some birds are raised for egg production, some are raised for meat production and some poultry are even raised to be pets.

Oberwitte's son, Wyatt, has been a member of the Feathered Friends club for four years.

Wyatt, 11, said he has been interested in raising chickens since he was very young.

"My parents took me to the fair when I was real little," he said. "They took me over to the chickens and got me one. Now I have a bunch."

Wyatt said the hardest part about raising chickens is keeping them calm when they are very little.

"When they're little, you have to get them to cooperate enough so you aren't a threat," he said.

In his four years in the club, Wyatt has won a lot of ribbons.

He said that his first year he won the highest award given out to poultry, the Outstanding Poultry Exhib--itor award.

Oberwitte said that there is one thing that makes the hard work worth it for her.

"Seeing the smiles on their faces when they win ribbons and belt buckles, that's what its all about," she said.

This year, there are seven Feathered Friends competing in the fair.

Oberwitte said that one of her main goals as club leader is to establish higher enrollment numbers in the future.

At last year's fair, the club earned 50 percent of the herdsman's award.

"It's based on pen neatness, feed and care, attitude, dress and demeanor," Oberwitte said.

At the fair, poultry club members are judged in two different categories, breed and showmanship.

In the breed competition, chickens are judged on the quality of the bird. Points can be lost due to bad grooming, among other things.

In the showmanship part of the competition, the trainer is judged just as much, if not more, as the poultry.

Oberwitte said that it is the showmanship portion when her teaching really comes into play.

"That's where it shows I've done my job, how much knowledge they actually have," she said.

Dominic Graziano can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or dgraziano@craigdailypress.com.

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