I have known members of the Adams family from Ballymena since the 1970s, when the late Tommy Adams was one of the top exhibitors here, especially at the summer agricultural shows.
It was at the Balmoral Show where I first met Tommy, who had won a great swath of prizes across a number of classes and it was his wonderful Indian Runner ducks that I especially admired. Year in, year out, Tommy had great show success and it was great to see that his nephew Joe and great nephew Neal followed in his footsteps.
The story doesn’t finish there as Neal’s wife Becky, mother-in-law Ginny McKee and his lovely little daughter Alannah are passionately involved in poultry keeping and exhibiting their birds.
I have had great pleasure over a number of years to report their great show successes and photograph their birds.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Joe, Neal and family for welcoming me to their many poultry events at the Ballymena Club and I am pleased to do Neal’s breeder in focus article.
• How long have you been keeping poultry?
I’ve been keeping various types of fowl for over 30 years now.
• What got you into poultry?
Being born into a family of poultry enthusiasts it was inevitable that I would end up keeping birds of some form.
• Did you start to show right away?
I started going to the shows with my uncle Tommy as a very young boy, helping him prepare birds and pen up his stock. It wasn’t long before I started to show my own birds.
• Who got you into showing?
As above, my Uncle Tom was a big influence in getting me into birds, spending every spare minute at his, feeding and helping him tend his stock along with my father Joe, who also showed various types.
• How many breeds have you kept over the years?
We have kept many breeds over the years but the waterfowl and hardfeather birds have been our longest breeds.
• What is your favourite breed and why?
It’s very difficult to choose just one. Most breeds we have are here for the love of the breed and an eagerness to maintain and improve the breed as best as possible.
• What is your greatest achievement?
We have had great fortunes and many a good day at the office, from winning Carlisle Game Show, the largest single breed club show in the UK, to our most recent success with our runner ducks at the National and Federation championship shows on the mainland.
• If you were starting out in poultry is there any advice that you could give someone?
My best piece of advice is to listen, spend time with breeders, books, although a useful tool cannot teach you what breeders can. I was fortunate to be born into a poultry family with a wealth of knowledge. Knowledgable breeders will teach you more than a book or the internet will.
• Finally, is there anyone in the poultry world that you admire?
I have great admiration for many poultry breeders. Some of these men have taught me a lot in my years in the fancy.
The late Geordie Stewart, the late Alan McKee, Austin Shaw and my father Joe, men with a fantastic wealth of knowledge and without listening to these men over the years I wouldn’t know half of what I do. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for me.