Janesville52.8°

Sale is a fur and feather festival

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Catherine W. Idzerda
July 30, 2010
— Today, steers, pigs and sheep will be sold at the high profile meat animal sale at the Rock County 4-H Fair.

A single animal could go for thousands of dollars.


Tomorrow, ducks, geese, rabbits, goats and turkeys will be sold in the “Fur and Feather Sale,” a lesser-known but equally important event for the fair’s 4-H and FFA kids.


A single animal might go for hundreds of dollars.


The event, which starts at 10 a.m. in the sale arena, is an opportunity for ordinary folks to “buy local” in the best sense of the phrase.


“The meat birds like the roasters and broilers, heavy ducks and geese, turkeys, rabbits, goats are sold,” explained Gerald Prentice, co-poultry superintendent.


After the sale, buyers sometimes donate animals back to the children who raised them. Other times, the animals meet the same fate as their other pals in the farmyard: They go for “processing” and end up on the buyers’ dinner plates.


Some animals find an entirely new home.


“We have a guy who buys the geese for his pond,” Prentice said.


At the meat animal sale, animals are sold by the pound. At the fur and feather sale, animals are sold individually or in lots. A single turkey might go for $100, while a group of “roaster” or “broiler” hens might go for the same amount.


The atmosphere at the auction is different, too.


“Because the animals are so small, the businesses don’t get the recognition that they would if they bought the steer,” Prentice said.


Still, the Fur and Feather sale has regular business patrons including HospiceCare and Blain’s Farm & Fleet, and the poultry leaders and project participants appreciate their support.


Adam Rowley, 12, of Magnolia 4-H, will be selling his two roaster hens.


“The chicks are about 25 cents apiece, and a good bag of food costs between $8 and $9 dollars,” Rowley said of his investment.


His sister, Emily Rowley, 9, also of Magnolia 4-H, also had some roasters in the sale. She stressed the importance of keeping the birds cool with lots of water and revealed a few of the secrets of a blue ribbon fowl.


“You want its toenails to be straight,” Emily Rowley said. “The judge will turn it over and look at its breasts and its tail feathers and ask you a bunch of questions about it.”


On the other side of the row of cages, Emily Lenz, 14, of Evansville 4-H, showed off her Polish cockerel, a handsome bird with a proud and ferocious gaze. Deep green feathers accented the bird’s dark red coloring.


Prentice explained that such “show birds” don’t end up in the sale.


The cockerel, whose name was Peanut Butter, didn’t seem to realize its luck.



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