Poultry show winners learn about life

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It was Charlotte Edwards’ first year at entering a chicken in the Wilson County 4-H Poultry Show and Sale, but that didn’t keep her from earning a blue ribbon as grand champion.

Charlotte, a member of the Lucama 4-H Club, took a 4-month-old Rhode Island Red named Autumn to take the top prize.

She was among 32 participants in the event at the Wilson County Fair Wednesday evening.

“We are trying to get the biggest egg-laying capacity so that they can lay the most eggs from the earliest stage of life,” Charlotte said. “You have to feed them special kinds of foods, not steroids because that would be considered cheating, but there are certain foods that you feed them at certain stages of their life.”

Andrew Jones, a Rock Ridge 4-H member, was in his eighth year in the event.

“I have won showmanship four years now,” Andrew said.

With a Light Brahmas chicken named Anabell, Andrew earned best showmanship once again and was a repeat winner of the reserve grand champion spot this year.

“The key is making sure their water and feed are clean, practicing handling them as often as you can, and maintaining a healthy environment for them,” Andrew said.

Eli Kicklighter entered a Black Star chicken he had named Ellie May.

“When we were first making her, we held her in our sister’s bathroom because my dad was working on a little pin to put the little chickens in, and we had a heat lamp over them,” said Eli, a Rock Ridge 4-H Club member. “We’ve had her about one year so farm, and we give her grower starter chick feed.”

“I’d say my favorite part about a chicken is laying an egg. All the chickens have good eggs,” Eli said.

Art J. Lucas’ chicken Amy, a Rhode Island Red, wasn’t nervous to be in the competition. That may have been because Art knew how to make Amy comfortable.

“You can just rub her head, and she will calm down,” Art said.

His brother, Tyler, had a chicken before, and Art helped him with it and decided to try it this year.

“It’s like helping a child getting old. You know how some children are afraid of things like this. It’s a good way to get them used to chickens and wildlife,” Tyler said. “It’s really a good experience.”

The brothers are both from the White Oak 4-H Club.

“It’s good scholarship money, too, so that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it,” he said. “Some people give you a check and still let you keep the chicken and the money for it.”

Claire Woodard, a member of the Kickin’ Klovers 4-H Club, entered her Silver-Laced Wyandotte chicken named Spotty.

“We have 12 chickens at our house right now, but we got three new ones this year, and it’s been very fun taking care of these chickens,” Claire said.

Claire said it’s a fun experience win or lose.

“It’s just that I’m enjoying taking care of these chickens and participating in such great things like this,” Claire said. “You have to have good care for your chickens and have a good experience. The key is to have good food and make sure that your chicken is healthy.”

“It’s just such a big responsibility, said competitor D.J. Scott of Rock Ridge 4H Club. “You have to make sure that nothing gets back there in the coop and attacks the chickens. To me it was more about the experience. I was kind of hoping that I would have won something, but I didn’t. It was just for fun. It is very, very fun. It teaches you a lot of responsibility, to take care of your community and just to make the world a better place.”

Javan Harrell, a member of Rock Ridge 4-H Club, entered a Buff Rock chicken named Sally.

“It’s really all about responsibility and good sportsmanship when it comes to the show,” Javan said. “I was hoping I would win, but I’m still a good sport, and I wish good luck to everybody else. I like that my bird was healthy and that it was a good bird this year.”

This is Javan’s eighth year in the competition.

The key, Javan said, is “just feeding them high protein and good calcium so they can lay good eggs in the future.”

Judge for the event was Carm Parkhurst, professor in poultry science at N.C. State University.

The winners were grand champion, Charlotte Edwards, Lucama 4-H; reserve grand champion, Andrew Jones, Rock Ridge 4-H; showmanship senior champion, Andrew Jones, Rock Ridge 4-H; showmanship reserve senior champion, Auston Dew, New Hope 4-H; showmanship junior champion, Charlotte Edwards, Lucama 4-H; and showmanship reserve junior champion, Avery Bissette, Rock Ridge 4-H.