Poultry trending in popularity at Douglas County Fair

Program a good launching pad for other livestock activities

Posted 7/24/17

When Christy Van Bibber first began working in the 4-H poultry division 10 years ago, 23 kids were showing approximately 90 chickens and other birdsat the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo.

Today, that number is 72 kids with 340 entries among them. …

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Poultry trending in popularity at Douglas County Fair

Program a good launching pad for other livestock activities

Posted

When Christy Van Bibber first began working in the 4-H poultry division 10 years ago, 23 kids were showing approximately 90 chickens and other birdsat the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo.

Today, that number is 72 kids with 340 entries among them. That’s up from 323 entries last year. The most entries fair officials have seen was 420 birds — two years ago

“Over the years it’s grown up,” Van Bibber said of the program. “I think what changed more than anything else was that it changed on the local level … Everybody can have chickens now.”

More municipalities allow residents to raise chickens within city or town limits, a trend that has boosted interest and involvement in poultry showing — particularly in the county’s more urban areas.

“If they have backyard chickens,” Van Bibber said, “they can show them at the fair.”

The poultry show is one of several livestock programs at the fair, which runs from July 29 through Aug. 6. Organizers and 4-H participants alike say being involved in poultry teaches valuable lessons in leadership and encourages participants to try bigger livestock projects as well.

Van Bibber recommends involving kids in 4-H because of what they learn in the process of raising and caring for animals. In the poultry division. For instance, participants must keep records of their animals’ food schedule and egg production. They must understand the anatomy of their birds and know facts about the breeds they show — all on top of building a relationship with the bird, feeding and watering it.

“They work hard,” Van Bibber said, “and they see the benefit of doing the work themselves.”

Poultry shows are also judged through a process similar to one-on-one interviews, so kids must learn how to confidently communicate information about their birds.

“You learn how to speak in front of people and learn how to present the best of you and the best of your animal,” Van Bibber said.

And, she said, many kids who begin by showing poultry pick up larger projects and branch into other livestock shows.

That was the case for 15-year-old Alex Cerullo of Sedalia.

Cerullo has shown poultry for all her seven years in 4-H and plans to keep with it for the remaining four she has left before aging out of the program.

“The first year I felt like I didn’t really know that much,” she said.

Luckily, Cerullo was guided by a mentor in her 4-H club who showed her how to handle her birds, how to care for them “and really get good at it.” She also has learned leadership skills demonstrated by her mentor, Cerullo said.

These days, she’s passing on the favor of mentorship.

“I’ve been able to work with some of the new kids learning to work with their chickens,” she said.

Cerullo will head to the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo this year with nine birds. She’ll go as a more confident showman than when she first entered the poultry division, a better speaker, and as Van Bibber predicted, she’ll also be taking other livestock projects to the fair, including goats and dogs.

“The whole thing about 4-H,” Van Bibber said, “is that we’re growing and educating the kids.”

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