MOUNT VERNON — Chicken, turkey and more chicken was showcased Monday during the Knox County Junior Fair Market Poultry Show. Ninety-seven 4-H participants showed three market broilers each; showcased next was the tom turkey class, with 25 participants.
Taking the title of Champion Broilers was Kyle Daniels of Fredericktown, who last year placed fourth in the competition.
“This is my third year [participating],” he said. “I worked with [chickens] before and it was easy.”
Daniels said he didn’t do anything different this year, although he had some help from his family.
It was also Brandon Presley’s third time participating in the poultry show, and his first time winning Champion Tom Turkey.
“It was hard. I had to keep feeding him a lot and petting him,” said Presley of Danville.
Presley said he started out with six turkeys and picked out one to show in the competition. This year was different for Presley, he said, as he worked much harder to maintain the health and well-being of the animals. Because he got the turkeys during the cooler months of April to May, a heat lamp had to be used for the baby turkeys.
He also received a lot of good advice from his peers.
“The person who helped me said, ‘Your meat should be as big as your four fingers,’ and I had some people talk to me about it,” he said.
For some participants, it was their first time competing. Katy Spiers of Fredericktown said it was a little difficult raising the chickens, but she had fun watching them grow from chicks to mature chickens.
“We had to build a pen for them and buy the right foods and stuff,” she said.
This is Spiers’ first time in the poultry show, as well as her first year in 4-H. As for next year’s poultry show, she’s not sure if she will do chickens again, but if she did, she would stick with the broilers.
“Very nice quality of birds and very competitive from what I’ve seen this year,” is what Tim Bowles, competition judge, said of the animals. “This has been an easier year for some of these projects. It has been on the cool side and [chickens] tend to eat more when they are cool and relaxed and not stressed out.”
Bowles, who has judged poultry for 18 years, is licensed by the American Poultry Association. He has also judged many shows across the state, as well as nationwide.
“This is a market chicken project, so the first thing we are looking for is carcass and meat cutability. And a product that is going to be able to go on the dinner table and something you’ll be proud to feed your family,” he said.
“And I don’t want to feel the breast bone, I want to feel the meat on the inside. I want to feel the length of the breast bone, how well it comes back to the keel and the little gristle at the end of the breast bone.”
Bowles said he uses his four fingers to see how wide it is across.
“And of course I want to see them clean and presentable; this is a show,” he said.
Although the biggest feature Bowles looks for is the meat, feathers are also important.
“You can see how well feathered they are, and what I’m looking for are pen feathers; they make it hard to pluck,” he said.
Overall, Bowles said the 4-H participants have been great to work with and have done a good job presenting their poultry.
“I’m very happy and pleased with them. Everyone thinks this is an easy project, but this is a very difficult project in order to do it right. These kids, maybe, have six to eight weeks to complete their project. It takes eight weeks for a [bird] to mature, so they only have one shot at it. They don’t have room for errors or mistakes. They either get it right the first time, or they don’t get it right,” said Bowles.
A complete list of winners will appear in the results tab in the Aug. 5 edition of the News.