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YOUNG BREEDER IN FOCUS

Tell us about yourself?

I am 13 and am currently living just outside Millisle. When I was seven, I went and lived in New Zealand for a year and came back when I was eight. I now attend Regent House Grammar School in Newtownards.

How long have you been keeping poultry?

I started keeping poultry in 2015 so this is now my sixth season with poultry.

What got you into poultry?

When I lived in New Zealand I looked after some of our neighbour’s hens and really enjoyed looking after them.

But a short time after we made our move back to Northern Ireland and I got my first few hens from Johnston’s of Mountnorris in Armagh.

Did you start to show any of your birds?

No, this is my first year of showing but have thoroughly enjoyed the online shows and will be trying to improve my birds for next year.

Who got you into showing?

I was inspired to get into showing by Mervyn Mooney, who has since provided me with an incubator, quality show stock and most importantly knowledge of the true Belgian bantam breed.

How many breeds have you kept over the years?

Over the five seasons I have had hens I’ve had a large variety of birds, but a few stand out, especially Belgian d’Anver bantams, German Langshans, Black copper Marans, Light Sussex Ducks, Quail, etc.

What is your favourite breed and why?

My favourite breed would have to be the Belgian bantam. It’s a difficult decision but because of its docile behaviour, their size and ease of handling. In my case it is the best bird for me.

What are the greatest challenges with this breed?

I find the biggest challenge with this breed is trying to monitor their aggressive behaviour to each other.

What is your greatest achievement so far?

I feel my greatest achievement so far is coming from having just three hens to now having more than 300 in the space of five years.

If you were starting out in poultry is there any advice you would give someone?

If someone was starting out with poultry they should ask themselves whether they want to show birds, sell eggs or raise birds, then pick a breed that suits them in that category. For showing I suggest bantams as they are a smaller bird and will be easier to keep in a smaller space.

For egg production I suggest hybrids, whether it’s the usual Isa Brown or if you like a variety of coloured eggs then I suggest coloured hybrids. In the end I think it’s a very personal choice what breed you go for because there are so many colours and varieties to choose from.

Tell us about your egg sale business?

I started selling eggs in 2016 from a small Tupperware box at the end of the lane with a little Northern Bank penguin money box. Not long after my little penguin was stolen. So, then I built a wooden one with the money box bolted to a post with the help of my dad. Just this Christmas I ordered an honesty box from Robert Shaw and it is a great improvement from the first Tupperware box.

Finally, is there anyone in the poultry world you admire?

I have had a lot of help and advice from many people in the poultry world, but Mervyn Mooney and Robert Shaw have influenced me to go one step further.

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