Animal-lover Hannah hatches a huge project
A science fair project left Hadlow teenager Hannah Gudsell with a brood more than she bargained for.
The project focused on hatching chicken and duck eggs, and though she didn't expect many to hatch, most of them did.
"I put lots of eggs in the incubator and I was surprised that pretty much all of them hatched," she said.
Hannah's parents are good humoured about the result, jokingly blaming Hannah's science teacher Julie McLean for the number of birds that now roam their property.
"She does come to buy the eggs though, so I guess that's fair," Hannah's mother Tui said.
An animal fanatic, Hannah has been breeding ducks and chickens since the science fair project early last year. There are now well over 100 chickens under Hannah's wing.
"I wasn't allowed to hatch anything else for awhile," she said.
Timaru is holding its first poultry show in May this year, which has inspired Hannah to work hard to breed poultry perfection.
She has already entered her birds in shows throughout the South Island, but hosting a show close to home will give her the opportunity to show more birds than she normally would.
She hopes the show will raise interest in breeding and showing. "I'll be showing 20 or 30 birds. It would be great for the poultry club to gain interest in Timaru."
The show is going to be held at the SBS centre, and Hannah expects to be spending some time cleaning up after her exhibits.
"The floor at the SBS is so nice, I think I'll be there for a while cleaning."
Hannah's flock is comprised of pure-breds rhode island reds, sussexes, leghorns, game bantams, silver penciled wyandottes and frizzles. For showing, they are chosen for the closest fit to the New Zealand poultry standard.
"I breed them as close as I can to the standard, although I don't think there is such a thing as the perfect chicken."
"If it's a white chicken there shouldn't be any black feathers, the combs all have to be the right shape, and they have to be a good big size for the breed," she said.
The judges come from all over New Zealand and some from Australia.
The birds are expensive to keep, and to subsidise the cost Hannah sells them through Timaru-based trading site bananas4free.
"Any money that I make goes straight back to mum and dad. If we added up all they had spent on getting me set up I think I would owe them a lot of money."
Some readers may remember a photograph of a crested duck in the Timaru Herald a few weeks ago. Its unorthodox hairstyle alerted a Temuka resident, and after seeing it in the paper Hannah recognised it as a duck she had bred.
"I sold four crested ducks to a person in Temuka whose house backs on to the stream."
Hannah says that she likes the crested ducks. Her work has also been a lesson in genetics. When the year 11 Craighead student leaves school, she hopes to carry on working with animals as a vet, a zoo keeper, or a conservation worker.
- © Fairfax NZ News