Chickens on Display

Did you know that show chickens take baths? FWCD’s 4-H students who have been raising chickens this year took to the tubs with their feathery friends to prepare for their big event of the year, the Tarrant County Junior Livestock Show, which began on March 1. View the videos on our Facebook page.  
The students were set to perform in the inaugural FWCD Chicken Show on February 23, but the rainy weather prohibited this outdoor event. The thought behind this show was to give students a run-through before the big March 1 performance at 7 p.m.
Self-proclaimed “chicken ladies” Rachel Werner and Tyler Crumley have led the students in the Poultry Club this year and have had a blast learning about show chickens. They purchased chicks from Dallas in the fall. Each family involved kept their baby chicks at home for six weeks. After six weeks, 30 of the chicks were moved to the on-campus coop located near the baseball fields. Several families chose to keep their chickens at their homes. There are seven different varieties in the flock: Black Copper Marans, Blue Copper Marans, Blue Birchen Marans, Blue Marans, Wheaten Marans, Welsummers and Ameraucanas.
Students began handling the chicks immediately to forge relationships and create a comfort level between human and chick. These relationships and comfort levels are the most important aspect in the showmanship of the chicken. Showmanship requires specific ways to hold the bird and present it to the judge. But it’s not just the birds that are on display in a competition: This is also a public speaking competition. Students show their poultry knowledge and judges pose questions regarding a student’s knowledge of poultry husbandry and breeding.
Two days before a show, chickens must be bathed and groomed. All of the FWCD chickens enjoyed a (mostly) relaxing bath that requires multiple steps: The chickens are first soaked to really clean those feet and tail feathers, then they are moved to a new bin and thoroughly scrubbed, before they are moved to a clean water bin and rinsed. No blow dryers for these birds: After their baths, they are gently swaddled in towels to dry (sometimes called “chicken burritos”). The final steps in the process are a pedicure and a fluff. The chickens then enjoyed a two-day vacation in Plant Operations due to inclement weather and muddy conditions at the coop. Clean show chickens can’t have a soggy coop!
“This whole endeavor has been educational on so many levels,” Crumley noted. “I’ve learned as much about chickens as the students have. It’s been a very fun project to be part of.”
The care of the chickens has been the responsibility of the Poultry Club, but the entire Plant Operations team has been instrumental. “Clovis [Murphrey] and Hattie Sellers [Poultry Club member] built a heat lamp for us when it got too cold in the coop,” Werner noted. “Quite frankly, our chickens are alive because of Clovis and that Plant Ops team. They are always checking in on the birds.”
Also checking on the chickens each day: the kindergarten students. They have been bringing food scraps from the Fischer Dining Pavilion to the coop following lunch each day and checking for eggs. On average, a chicken lays an egg once every 26 hours. The kindergarteners are using “Falcon Eggs” in the birthday treats they make.
The show was a success for the Poultry Club team, both fun and a learning experience. Lyle Crumley ’25 won Junior Showmanship. “It was a huge class of 8-10 year olds, and she rocked it,” Werner said.
After this show, students may bring their chickens home or they may continue to live in the FWCD coop. “Some students will bring theirs home,” Werner said. “The great thing about the campus coop is that students who don’t have coops at home can still participate in the Poultry Club. It’s not a requirement that you bring your chicken home at the end of the competition season.”
Both Crumley and Werner are hopeful that even more students will join the Poultry Club next year. “It’s been an eye-opening and fun year with these kids,” they noted.
Poultry Club Members
Those designated with an * showed on March 1
Thomas Bluntzer ’27*
Nicky Burdman ’28*
Chloe Camilli ’28
Isabella Camilli ’24
Bo Crumley ’29*
Lyle Crumley ’25*
Teeg Crumley ’24*
Mary Margaret Granger ’28*
Hudson Hatfield ’25
Emma Lampka ’21
Ethan Lampka ’26
Ben Pepper ’25*
Erik Pepper ’24*
Emma Poorter ’29
Thomas Readinger ’28*
Anna Rollins ’26*
Lily Rollins ’28*
Sydney Russell ’28
Zaven Smith ’29*
Hardie Tucker ’25*
George Watler ’24*
Lauren Watler ’27*
Evie Werner ’28*
Gibson Werner ’24*
4200 Country Day Lane, Fort Worth, TX 76109
Phone: 817.732.7718
Fort Worth Country Day (FWCD) is a JK-12 private, independent, coeducational, nondenominational college-preparatory school located on approximately 100 acres in Fort Worth, Texas. The mission of Fort Worth Country Day School is to foster the intellectual, physical, emotional, and ethical development of capable students through an academically rigorous college preparatory program that integrates the arts and athletics.