KENOSEE LAKE - Quack, quack here and a gobble, gobble there, and a cock-a-doodle-doo!
Those were the sounds from fluffy, furry and feathered friends at the Poultry and Rabbit Show, hosted by the Redvers Small Animal and Bird Sale Organization and Prairie Rabbit Club.
The weather was perfect for the Nov. 6 show, held at the Red Market Barn north of Kenosee Lake.
The show is normally held in Redvers but because there are so many who come from a distance, they felt they needed to hold the show in close proximity to a hotel and since the hotel burned down in Redvers, the venue was changed.
It’s been nearly eight years since the organization’s inception, mainly having sales every year although this is the organization’s third show.
Rob McCulloch of Carnduff is the American Poultry Association (APA) rep for Saskatchewan, poultry director for Heritage Livestock Canada and now Sask. representative for American Rabbit Breeds Association (ARBA).
The Redvers Club has had upwards of 300 members in the past.
Many of the entries at this year’s show come from quite a distance but McCulloch says, “We’re hoping to improve the stock in the local area by having shows such as this.”
Organizers of the show were happy to see lots of spectators stopping in for a look around during the show just to see what it was all about.
Justin Robertson and Jack Robertson of J&K Call Ducks & East Indies of Amarandh, Man., won awards for both the show champion and reserve show champion.
Fallon Belisle of Antler won awards for both champion of show and reserve champion in the junior category.
The winners of the show will have their names engraved on a large trophy and will have bragging rights for the year.
The poultry judge, Ramona Trombley, drove out from Duncan, B.C.
Her jacket was absolutely loaded up with various judging badges, including those from various clubs she belongs to or badges from breed clubs. Trombley has been judging for the past 10 years and has judged shows as far away as Texas and has attended a number of shows in the Maritimes although not as a judge there.
There’s very few poultry judges in Canada – only 12 of them.
She started judging at 10 a.m. and continued throughout the day until mid-afternoon to inspect every bird entered in the show.
Trombley goes on to explain:
“I’ve been breeding poultry since I was five years old and showing since I was seven. I love chickens and I’ve always wanted to judge. It’s quite a process to become a judge. After three years I got my licence and received my American Bantam Association licence the following year.”
Depending on the bird, the judge looks for the proper shape, the right colour, missing feathers, does it have specific disqualifications for that breed. Each breed has specific qualities that she looks for.
Because we had a hotter summer than normal, there are birds molting unexpectedly.
“It’s great to see so many young kids working with the animals,” said Trombley. “They’re excited about learning all about them.”
Crowds gathered around just to watch and learn how the judging was done.
“Birds show their best if they are cage trained,” explains Trombley. “That can take as little as one to two weeks to train them.”
“There were some exceptional looking birds here today,” comments Trombley of her observations as a judge.
The upper level in the Barn is where the rabbit show was held throughout the day.
The Prairie Rabbit Club is made up of a group of people who love the hobby of breeding and showing rabbits and wanted to form a group to keep the hobby alive and keep promoting the standard throughout Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“There’s not many things you can do with a rabbit so taking them a show is a big thing,” says Pam Nichol.
“Purebred rabbits cost the same to feed as a regular rabbit so it’s kind of like a bonus of the hobby.”
The Prairie Rabbit Club is a fairly new-formed club only within the past few months so the members are very few.
“It’s a good place for enthusiasts to get together to share their stories and experiences,” says Nichol.
Some entries for the rabbit show came from as far away as Lucky Lake.
McCulloch smiles as he says “It’s almost an addiction,” when he talks about travelling such a distance to take part in these shows.
Out of over 120 rabbits of 16 different breeds entered in show, winners were:
Best in show went to John Algabre of Preeceville with his New Zealand bunny.
Reserve and show went to Brittney Kishka of Manitoba with her Holland lop bunny.
The Rabbit Club held a Silent Auction as well with proceeds going towards the club and towards next year’s show.
Rabbit judge was Stephen Hultholm of Edmonton, who has been judging rabbits for 10 years.
He has had his licence with the American Rabbit Breeders Association for 10 years.
“I’ve been a member with the association for 20 years.”
Hultholm has raised many different breeds of rabbits himself over the years.
The best way to learn about all the different types of rabbits is raise them yourself.
Depending on the breed, of which there are 50 different breeds of rabbits, the judge is looking for coloring, body type, head, ears and ear lengths. Everything has a point system depending on the breed.
Depending on the breed, more points may go towards the fur while another breed the points may be more about the body type, ears or even their pose.
Hultholm has judged all across the States, mostly in the western states with the most recent judging on Vancouver Island.
The busier seasons for judging rabbits are in the spring and the fall.
The national convention is usually held in the fall. The last one held in Canada was in 1969 but typically they’re held in the States. The convention typically gets around 20,000 rabbits entered just for the single show.
“It’s great judging at the smaller shows because we can interact with the spectators and take the time to teach the owners and answer any questions they may have. It’s really great for the hobby…it brings it back to what it should be about. It’s all about improving those animals.”
“I like to teach people and I like to learn myself.”
And that’s not all there was at The Red Barn. There was also a couple of other competitions to enter. Judging was done on quality of eggs including the density, weight and calcium in the egg and the size according to the breed. And then there was a decorated egg competition just for fun for both adults and youngsters.