For Year 10 Agriculture students at The Armidale School, the answer to the age old question ‘which comes first, the chicken or the egg’ could well be, ‘hopefully both’.
The students are amongst those from several schools across the region who are preparing poultry for various competitions at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show and blue ribbons are clearly in their sights.
Two years ago TAS was named most successful school exhibitor in the poultry section after success in purebred layer, feathered bird, and commercial layer classes. This year the school has also entered the RAS Schools Meat Bird Pairs competition, alongside Uralla Central and Moree Secondary College, amongst others. Participating schools last week received 16 young chicks from competition sponsor Steggles – and up until judging day, competitors will be feeding, weighing and monitoring their cheeping charges, hoping to turn 50 gram chicks into four kilogram liveweight table birds, in just 41 days. (There is also a carcass competition, the avian equivalent of a ‘hoof and hook.’ )
“Using commercial feedstock, the boys will be weighing them weekly, calculating their feed gain and conversion, and monitoring their general health,” Agriculture teacher Mike Ball said.
“As for the laying hens, we’ll also be looking for consistency of egg size and colour – which means the boys need to work out the hen who is responsible for the double yolkers.”
Callan Moffatt, of ‘Yarana’ Guyra, said there’s a lot to consider.
“It’s interesting to see how the weight of the chickens is starting to gain at an increasing rate. I just hope we get a rooster and a hen that are the two heaviest.”
Charlie Uren, Congi Station Woolbrook, agreed.
“They’re growing really quickly. At least they’re in a safe environment and we won’t lose them to foxes, like at home,” he said.
The Sydney Royal Easter Show will be held from 26 March – 8 April.