A great family hobby
For many, the current recession
has meant giving up some pleasurable activities . . . things like the weekly bowling team, attending NFL games,
or even (gasp) cable TV.
Fortunately, having a few pet chickens can fill the gap. Here’s why:
- You can socialize with likeminded people without buying expensive tickets, $9.00 hotdogs, or the
habitual cocktail at the bowling alley. You can get into the
pet chicken hobby without spending the proverbial arm and a leg and it's a hobby the whole family can
participate in and enjoy.
- If you’re up for some competition, your kids can show their pet chickens as a member of their
4-H club and you can join them showing in the open class section. There are fairs in almost every
region of the United States and there are an increasing number of clubs for chicken enthusiasts, many who
are open to specific breeds. Chickens are popular in other areas of the world, too.
- Nothing on TV? A great family day can include a
training session for your pet chicken(s), or a fun game that teaches the whole family about chickens;
their anatomy, history, and breed characteristics. These are
facts that you’ll find handy, even necessary, if you want to compete by fitting and showing your pet
chickens. Backyard Poultry Magazine (www.backyardpoultrymag.com) has the Gertrude McCluck series for
kids to learn from and enjoy.
- You can make a cheap but fun family day out of learning about your pet chickens and practicing
for the competition. And you can do these things right at
home . . . meaning no gas expense for your car and an economical but delicious homemade casserole
when everybody gets hungry. Then you can gather the free eggs for tomorrow’s
So, how do you get started fitting and showing your pet chickens?
your kids are 4-H members, they’ll get all the information about fitting and showing their pet chickens
from their 4-H leaders. They’ll be taught how to prepare their
birds, bathe them, and tame them to perform well in front of the judges.
As an adult or parent of a 4-H member child, you can show your favorite member of the flock,
too. But you’ll be showing in the open class section, which is
usually in close proximity to the 4-H showing area at most fairs.
step for you will be to acquire a premium book from the fair association. You can do this by calling the association and requesting the book be sent to
you or you can do it the easy way.
Since you’re shopping periodically at your local farm store anyway to purchase chicken
feed or other needed supplies, just keep your eyes open around the checkout counter a couple of months before
the date of your local fair. Almost always, the local feed stores
have fair premium books you can pick up for free.
Take the premium book home, study it, fill out all the required information and send it in to the
fair association along with a check for the nominal fee charged for the number of pet chickens you’ve decided
Do it as early as possible, because most small fairs have a minimum of spaces devoted to open class
If you have ten or more chickens, the hardest decision (and the most important for doing well in
competition) is which birds to choose for exhibit.