The most beautiful chickens in Ireland will next month be flocking to Clonmel in County Tipperary.
The Irish Society of Poultry Fanciers is hosting its first poultry even since the onset of the pandemic at the Clonmel Show.
On Moncrieff this afternoon, society member Marian Kiely said the annual show is like a Miss World for poultry.
“The birds are judged on standards,” she said. “They have to have the proper coloured legs, the proper cones, the proper plumage, they have to be in good condition and be a certain weight.
“All that kind of thing. There’s a whole list of criteria they have to fulfil in order to become champions.”
Ms Kiely said all would-be chicken trainers have a lot to think about when it comes to bird care – and that’s before getting them used to showtime itself.
“It’s about good feeding first of all,” she said. “Good housing and ventilation, all that kind of thing.
“Then coming towards showtime, they all get washed and blow-dried and everything. You sort of spruce them up and a lot of people use baby oil on the cones and the legs – just to make them shiny and looking as good as they possibly can.
“It’s like a Miss World for poultry.”
The society was founded in Dublin in 1985 with the aim of bringing together exhibitors and anyone with an interest in poultry.
The first show was held a year after that – with the society attracting 145 members within the first 12 months.
Ms Kiely said the society prizes all types of poultry and waterfowl – with hens, cocks and ducks also competing.
Many of the top birds in the shows are old breeds, some of which would likely be extinct today if they weren’t bred for the big time.
The national show is usually held in January each year – with the last event pre-pandemic attracting 1,200 birds “of all shapes, sizes and colours.”
Asked whether the birds ever end up on the dinner table after their show career comes to an end, Ms Kiely said: “Oh gosh no”.
“They would be retired to greener pastures to live out their lives naturally,” she said.
The next event is being held as part of The Clonmel Show in County Tipperary on July 3rd.
You can listen back here: