Travelling by wing just wouldn’t do for Champ the chicken on his recent flight to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
“He caused quite a sensation in the airport,” said Kathy Stevenson of Bashaw. “People would see the pet carriers and come around to get a good look and jump back startled when they saw this huge chicken in there.”
The Buff Orpington rooster took home the top prize for poultry at the fair in November, but Champ hasn’t let his newfound fame go to his head.
“He really doesn’t require a whole lot of care,” said Stevenson. “He’s just happy to have a few hens to keep him company in his pen.”
Like many farm families, Stevenson kept “regular chickens” until she began to learn more about traditional heritage breeds.
“When I discovered so many wonderful things about purebred poultry, I decided I really liked that idea of self-sufficiency and being able to hatch your own chicks.”
The gentle demeanour and brilliant gold colouring of Buff Orpington chickens drew Stevenson to the breed.
“They’re just dazzling,” she said. “When they catch the sunlight, it’s really quite stunning.”
Stevenson, who began showing her heritage poultry nearly five years ago, said more and more people are becoming interested in the hobby.
“The shows are getting bigger, with more people exhibiting and more people giving it a try.”
At shows like the Royal, poultry are judged on breed standards for size, shape, colour, and feather texture, so Stevenson recommends anyone interested in showing poultry first speak with a private breeder.
“You need to start with good-quality, healthy chickens, and generally, you need to do that through a private breeder rather than a hatchery,” she said.
As for Champ, his show career is at an end. But he won’t be finding himself in a soup pot any time soon.
“He will be enjoying a nice, quiet retirement here on the farm.”