Christine and Daniel Moore’s two sons, Austin and Clayton, will be showing their Cornish Rock hens at the Highland County Fair this year.
They’ve heard all the chicken jokes, like why did the chicken cross the road to go to where a house was being built?
The answer — to see a man lay a brick!
But for the Moores, taking an animal to the fair is serious business.
“I was in 4-H when I was younger, and later on I became an advisor, and then got my kids into 4-H showing animals, basically to keep them out of trouble,” Christine said.
While most people think of steers, feeder calves and hogs when it comes to the fair, Moore said her sons like the chickens best.
“I like them because they’re the easiest to show,” she said. “You get them when they’re a couple of days old, you have them for about five weeks, and you have to get them to four to six pounds in weight to show them.”
Her sons are part of the Pigs Plus 4-H Club and have been showing chickens for the past four years, but for a time took Boer goats to the fair.
“The judges are looking for muscle tone, growth and the feathers,” said Clayton, who is 14 years old and goes to Whiteoak High School with his brother. “I want to make sure their wings and legs are healthy, and just overall, make sure it’s a nice looking bird.”
His 15-year-old brother Austin claims an expertise with his feathered friends.
“I’ve been raised around them,” he said. “And I know how to raise them, to grow them, and make sure they have the right amount of food, water, a place for shelter, and a nice pen for them to run, grow and be healthy.”
Both boys appreciate the fact that the chicken is a “low maintenance” show animal.
“Chickens are fun and raising them is easy,” said Austin. “And like Clayton said, all they do is eat, drink and need shelter when it rains.”
When it comes to the big show at the fair, judges aren’t just looking at the chickens, but are sizing up those showing them as well.
“They have a book they have to fill out to show how they raised their chickens,” their mother said. “More than anything, it’s about what they’ve learned doing it and what goes into making that chicken showable at the fair.”
There are also standards concerning their showmanship, appearance and control of their animal.
As for a shot at grand champion, both boys feel confident in themselves and their birds.
“Our chickens look pretty good, I think,” Clayton said. “I’ll put mine up against anybody else at the fair next week.”
If their chickens find a buyer at the fair, it could mean a substantial amount of money for the teens.
For Clayton, his money is going into an account to be set aside for education.
Austin has other plans, though.
“I’m buying me a truck,” he said.
The Poultry Meat Pen Sale and Single Fryer Rabbit Sale are scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 6 starting at 1 p.m.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571