Kaden Francis, 10, grinned from ear to ear Thursday as he stood next to his chicken, Nugget, at the Boone County Fair..
“He’s a black-breasted red old English game bantam,” said Kaden, who lives in Hallsville.
A member of 4-H, Kaden was excited to show off his regal-looking chicken, a popular breed for poultry shows with its docile nature. The heritage breed originated in England and was often used in cockfights.
Nugget, with his magnificent black tail, was one of more than 40 show birds on display in cages at the 4H/FFA Poultry and Rabbit Show.
Youths ages 8-18 from across mid-Missouri brought more than 100 chickens, ducks, roosters and rabbits to be judged Thursday morning. 4H and FFA members also entered 30 domestic and meat rabbits for judging.
It was the first livestock show of the day, to be followed by a dairy goat show and a livestock show. Additional 4H/FFA shows will be held Friday.
Alongside the show birds, at least 60 plump meat birds were crated in groups of three to be judged on feet, breast size and feather quality.
Poultry enthusiast and chicken expert Tony Perryman was the poultry show judge.
“I judge the meat birds on their meat qualities and their uniformity,” he said. “Triplets would be ideal.”
After the judging, the meat birds become part of the livestock auction held Friday at the fair.
“There’s a standard description for every breed and variety of chicken out there just like cattle, and they’re compared to how close they match that standard description for the chicken,” Perryman said.
The rabbits could be found nearby under the same pavilion at the fairgrounds.
Kylee Walters, 18, both a 4H and FFA member, has been showing rabbits for a decade. She was showing California meat rabbits with her siblings, Kaelyn and Kayne.
“We will show three of them together, and then we will sell those at the Boone County Fair,” Kylee said.
This year’s rabbit judge, Carole Hartel, has been evaluating rabbits for over 12 years and has raised them herself for 43 years.
“I’ve shown from California to New York,” Hartel said. “Our breeds of rabbits are in 49 states.”
“Every kid here is wanting the opportunity to have the best rabbit in show or to have their meat pens go on and be on their 4H auction,” she said.
Both 4H and FFA are community staples across the nation. The youth development organizations foster young people’s potential through a variety of activities and outdoor skills, like livestock raising.