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Poultry rule the roost as Routt County Fair livestock shows begin

Chickens have personality's too

Dyllan Spitzley, 13, of Clark, claimed the grand champion ribbon in the Poultry Showmanship intermediate class at the Routt County Fair Aug. 17 with a little red rooster named Count Dooku after the Star Wars character.
Tom Ross

Fair schedule online

The Routt County fair continues through Sunday with a schedule of more 4-H shows and entertainment.

— If you’re the least bit inquisitive, it’s almost impossible not to learn something new at the Routt County Fair — like, where your food comes from. On Aug.17, I learned that chickens have personalities too.

That’s not something I’d considered the day before as I microwaved leftover chicken/olive stew in the lunchroom at work. Based on limited experience with laying hens, I’d formed the opinion that chickens were scatterbrains. On Wednesday, I learned, that given a chance, poultry can show affection, or at least empathy.

Fortunately, I had Alli Ingols, 15, of Hayden, to straighten me out. Alli has won the grand champion ribbon in poultry showmanship at the fair five years out of six including in the senior division on Wednesday.

What’s her secret?

It’s all about building trust with a hen named Paige.

“I named her after my friend,” Alli said. “She’s so sweet (both the hen and the girl). She comes to me almost like a dog (the hen, not the girl). She’s really calm and really loyal. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t have chickens.”

Dyllan Spitzley, 13, of Clark, knows what Ingols is talking about. She took home the grand champion ribbon in the intermediate category and couldn’t wait to turn in her certificate for a big oval belt buckle with a raised chicken on it.

Dyllan showed a small Fleur Mille rooster at the fair named Count Dooku after the Star Wars character.

“He’s really sweet (most of the time), he’s happy a lot, but sometimes he pecks me,” she confessed.

When it comes down to pure showmanship, Kaedynce Kaleikini was tough to beat. She showed a Golden Polish hen named Lincoln with a hairdo reminiscent of Tina Turner’s.

“She’s very curious but still very calm,” Kaleikini said. “She’s really spoiled and likes to be around people.”

Poultry showmanship is a bit of a misleading title for Wednesday’s competition at the fair —the hens, along with a lone goose and a single turkey, certainly cackled, honked and gobbled. But it’s not like they launched into song and dance routines.

Judge Randy Anderson, of Laramie, Wyoming, was more intent on interviewing each exhibitor to determine how much they really knew about the particular breed of poultry they were showing. He wanted to hear a lot about the strengths of each bird and its feeding regimen. It turns out that berries, watermelon and even salty snacks are OK in modest portions.

“See those two big hens over there?” Patti Love, 13, asked me. “They love Pringles.”

Longtime poultry show superintendent Roger Muhme said 4-H youngsters are advised to consider the qualities of the various breeds each spring before they actually purchase a bird.

I suggest an empathetic hen who likes cool ranch Fritos and has a good hairdresser. But what do I know?

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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