Chicken champ crowned at poultry show in Eagle
Ali Gulick loves her chickens.The love was obvious when Gulick, 13, was named grand champion at Wednesday’s 4-H poultry show at the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo. Gulick topped the small field as a rookie. She took delivery of her first chicks just this year.”I thought it would be a lot of fun,” Gulick said.Getting her chicks in April, Gulick first kept them in a bathtub at the family house in the Brush Creek Valley until the animals’ pen was built. While she thought having some chicks would be fun, there were some surprises.”They’re very sweet – I thought they’d be mean,” Gulick said. “And they’re not as disgusting as I thought they’d be.”One of the hard parts of raising animals for a 4-H project is the record-keeping. Gulick’s father, John, said a 4-H project requires careful monitoring of the animals’ growth and food consumption, as well as journal entries detailing care for the birds. Kids who raise poultry also must learn the different parts of the animals and be able to identify different varieties of chickens and turkeys.After she’d placed the grand champion’s ribbon on her hen’s cage, Gulick was asked if the bird would be part of Saturday’s junior livestock auction. Many of the animals sold at the auction are slaughtered and eaten. “I will never sell my chickens!” she said, turning a bit ashen. “I love them too much!”Kyle Rivera’s class-champion turkey won’t be as fortunate. Rivera, 18, has been involved in 4-H since he was 12 or so. Over those years, he has raised turkeys, pigs and other animals at the family acreage in Gypsum. Most of those animals have gone to the auction, with money raised there going into his college fund.”It’s fun coming out and showing animals, trying to do better than you did last year,” Rivera said. This year’s poultry exhibitors were part of a small group, though. Cortne VanCampen was the only junior to show an animal in the competition.”We have fewer kids showing poultry this year, but we have more kids showing the other animals, including cattle,” local 4-H coordinator Jenny Wood said.That small group won’t do the kids much good if they decide to take animals to this year’s Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, poultry show judge Riva Frank said. “You learn a lot at the bigger shows than you can at one this small,” Frank said. Still, raising a bird can be a good education.”It’s a good way to learn about 4-H,” Cortne’s mom, Laurie, said. “And the birds won’t drag you around the yard like the lambs will.”Scott Miller, a writer based in Vail, Colorado, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.