IT is hard to believe it’s true but the fastest growing section of the Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama, on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9, is the poultry.
The section was reintroduced in 2013 and attracted just 127 entries – last year there were 360 entries and this year committee working bees have extended the poultry pavilion and prepared new cages so they can accommodate 500 birds.
Head steward Keven Nordstrom was instrumental in getting poultry back into the show and said it never ceased to amaze him how the Woolorama committee rallied to help with the success of the section.
“I only ever foresaw a show with a couple of hundred birds and where it will stop I don’t know,” Mr Nordstrom said.
This year’s event shows the rapid growth with a new junior judging competition and a purebred poultry auction also included in the program.
After the formation of the Great Southern Poultry Association last year, there is a fair chance it will continue growing with the increasing interest in purebred backyard poultry.
Mr Nordstrom estimates there is more interest in poultry now than in the past 20 years, but those who have them were keeping fewer breeds and specialising more.
“There are 280 different breeds and colours in Australia and once it was not uncommon for people to keep 10-12 different breeds but generally speaking most people today will only have one or two and are not allowed to keep roosters,” he said.
One of the great attractions of exhibition poultry is that people of any age can be involved in the hobby and the introduction of a junior judging competition will encourage more young involvement.
It is open to anyone under the age of 25 years but the message to aspiring young judges is it is advisable to have some showing experience before testing your skill – it is not just about knowing your birds, but also about show preparation and pen training.
The winner will earn the right to represent WA at the national junior judging finals in Adelaide later this year.
It may not be the best time of year for showing birds in prime plumage as most are at some point of their annual moult, but Wagin has some distinct advantages for enthusiasts.
Wagin is centrally located for exhibitors who come from as far away as Ravensthorpe, Gingin, Augusta and the metropolitan area and its generous prize money valued at $50 a class, make it worth the trip.
The champion bird of the show carries $200 prizemoney donated by local enthusiasts Joe and Anne O’Brien.
The couple has been keen supporters of the show and demonstrate how many people think about their choice of poultry, with Mr O’Brien saying they tended to like breeds that not many people were showing.
The new cages mean they can enter some of their larger breeds, such as Chinese and Settler geese and slate turkeys and guinea fowl.
It is this mode of thinking that ensures the continual change of breed popularity.
A few years ago modern game was all the go among breeders but today the beautifully marked Wyandotte is having its day in the sun.
Importantly, it is a show that attracts top interstate judges who give breeders good feedback on their birds.
This year is it Eric Rosolen, Casino, New South Wales, who has judged in Europe, the United States and South Africa and has also judged sheep, cattle, goats and horses in his long career.
The section has 60 classes and while many are generic classes some of the more popular breeds have their own section.
The show will finish with an auction of show birds.
Mr Nordstrom said usually poultry auctions presented a mixed bag of birds but the Saturday sale would offer some top breeding stock, representing the broad variety of game birds, bantam and standard fowl, water fowl, geese, turkeys and guinea fowl that have been entered in the show.
Much like the section, he is expecting it to start off small and gain momentum in the future and, hopefully one day replicate the success of the Australian Championships in Sydney where a pair of Toulouse geese sold for a $3500 top price.