Davy Kerr, from Kircubbin, County Down, kindly arranged a poultry fair at his farm last Saturday, attracting pure bred poultry keepers from across the country.
It was an early start for everyone who was taking birds to this event. We had all the birds gathered up in pens from the night before to allow an early departure and I was particularly looking forward to travelling to this beautiful part of the country.
As we travelled along the winding coastal road by Strangford Lough, with Scrabo Tower to our backs and a wonderful view on each side, the weather started to improve, enhancing an area of outstanding natural beauty. By lunchtime we were steeped in warm sunshine.
Arriving at Farm Gate, Inishargy Road, a journey that had taken much longer than anticipated due to cyclists also taking advantage of the weather, we were directed into the poultry fair field.
There was a great turnout of poultry friends from across the country with a wonderful array of poultry and waterfowl.
Finding a spot in the field, we started to lift out our pens of birds kindly assisted by others who had come to look around our stock. I couldn’t believe how quickly we moved on the majority of the birds that we brought to the fair, some of which we didn’t even have time to lift out of the boxes before they were away to new homes.
More than the aspect of moving on stock at poultry fairs is the wonderful opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new acquaintances who have the common interest of poultry keeping and maintaining old fowl breeds.
I was delighted to bump into a friend who I hadn’t seen for approximately 30 years who keeps Orpington fowl. After a good old catch up and a lot of laughter, our passing remarks were: “I hope to see you in another 30 years”.
Looking around the fair there was a vast array of quality old breeds available from some of the top exhibitors in Northern Ireland as well as superb stock from poultry hobbyists.
Stephen Patterson, from Fermanagh, had brought along great Orpington fowl and it was brilliant to see that he had the standard bred white Orpington fowl – which are kept by very few now.
Neal and Becky Adams, from Ballymena, had brought an array of fowl, including a large quantity of Carlisle Old English Game in different colours and very nice Fawn Indian Runner Ducks.
Just across from them was a great display put on by Ryan McLaren. I marvelled at his wonderful Brahmas and Cochins and an outstanding pair of Steinbacher geese which attracted a lot of attention.
At the far end of the field the McKibbin family, from Carryduff, had a great display of poultry. I was immediately attracted to their absolutely superb Blue Pekin Bantams and quality Miniature Appleyard ducks and Black East Indian ducks.
It was this latter breed, the Black East Indian duck, that had an old history in this area as the late James (Jimmy) Fails, who lived on the Ballybryan Road, which ran parallel to the road that this poultry fair was on, had introduced this breed to Northern Ireland a very long time ago.
Jimmy kept a wonderful variety of light breed fowl and ducks. Just being in this area reminded me of a great poultry keeper from a good few years ago who encouraged so many to keep these wonderful old breeds of fowl.
I would like to thank Davy Kerr for running this event and all the charitable work that he does in this area and, of course, for the strawberries that each poultry enthusiast got who brought birds to this event.