What does it take to have a show-winning chicken?
La Salle Academy's (LSA) agriculture students are learning all things poultry with the intention of entering some of the school's chickens in the 2020 Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Science and agriculture teacher Stephen Jessett has been working with students in the schools Ag centre and running a poultry program.
Initially Year 12 incubated several eggs for three weeks as part of their HSC Agriculture subject, according to Mr Jessett.
"The eggs were then moved to a temperature-controlled brooder and a lighting regime applied to maximize early growth of the chicks and the aspects of the growing of the chicks was researched by the students," he said.
Mr Jessett said the chickens will be entered in the Sydney Royal in the 'Schools Purebred Layer' category.
"The birds are entered in teams of three, we have two teams entered and each team is assessed on three components," he said.
The chooks will be assessed on their egg laying ability while on show over 10 days, the conformity of the birds to the breed standard and the project component.
"There will be a Powerpoint presentation that the judges assess regarding the collection of data by the students, we chose to collect data on the growth rate of the chicks over seven weeks," Mr Jessett said.
Mr Jessett said the LSA birds were purebred Australorps from a utility line bred originally by Cox from Mudgee, and have an added infusion of Ray Connor Australorp genetics to give added conformity to the breed standard.
"The Connor genetics come from a current breeder Carolyn Donnelly who generously donated a rooster and a hen to LSA for this purpose," he said.
He said the handling and weighing of the birds over their growth was completed by several students with the aim of bonding the birds with humans for easy handling at the show.
"We want them to be handled by the RAS (Royal Agricultural Society) judges effectively," he said.
Mr Jessett said the aim of the project also included the familiarisation of young people with animals and an ongoing assessment of the birds' egg quality.
"These birds have just started to lay, so the egg data is still being collected," he said.
The birds will be readied for the Easter Show through competing in a number of local poultry shows to familiarise the birds to the show environment and allow interested students to participate in the preparation and handling of poultry for display.
"The Australorp section is the most contested breed division and I also hope it inspires students to perhaps move into these high levels of competition later in life," Mr Jessett said.
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