HOWELL – Chickens are really taking off lately. Not literally, of course. They can’t fly. But the number of families keeping them in their back yard is growing. Whether it’s for eggs or for pets, they are becoming popular backyard friends.
What better way to celebrate them than a poultry pageant?
The Third Annual Miss Hen was held recently at Monmouth Feed Supply. The event was scheduled to coincide with the arrival of new chicks for the season. With all the backyard chickens, it’s become a fun way for the community of amateur chicken farmers to get together and share tips, owner Ralph Kiracofe said.
People are loving having small backyard flocks, especially families that get their children involved in the care of the birds, he said. They learn a lot and are rewarded with having a social and affectionate pet. And nothing answers the market for organic eggs than growing them yourself.
“We just figured we’d celebrate it,” Kiracofe said.
The chickens were judged in four categories: Trick/Talent, Best Feathered, Best Dressed and Miss Congeniality.
The three judges – Diane Goossen of Goossen Farm, Shelby Johnson of Harleys and Horses Farm, and Rob Schuster of Schuster’s Poultry Farm – made the rounds to interact with the birds to see which ones had the softest and most aesthetically pleasing plumage and who had the warmest personality.
The “Best Dressed” competition had chickens in children’s carts or in a cute outfit. The winner had Jacob Wladich dressed as Colonel Sanders carrying around his chicken, Matilda, in a bucket. The KFC in this case stood for “Kindness For Chickens.”
When it came to talent, there are certainly some talented animals in the county, but they were also camera shy. Once they got in front of the judges, some got stage fright. Like one chicken who didn’t respond to commands and just sat there so her owner improvised and declared “She’s doing an impression of a boulder.” Bryce Decline of Brick brought his pet Chica to the competition. He had been working on a trick to get her to fetch bits of cheese. In another case, “The Amazing Big Bird” was trained to find an egg under one of three cups. When she didn’t quite get it, the owner used some “hidden magic” to sprinkle some bird seed near the right one.
Prizes and ribbons were given out in all categories, with a first through fourth place. But there can only be one Miss Hen.
The winner of the competition – and a year’s supply of feed courtesy Monmouth Feed Supply and Nutrena, was Lady Buckington, presented by Ryan and Christina Ward.
The runner-up, who won six months of feed, was Muffin, presented by Emily Favre.