Cut-throat world at the Waikato Poultry & Pigeon Show video

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Feathers went mostly unruffled at the 115th Waikato Poultry & Pigeon Club show in Hamilton on Saturday.

The anger radiates from her face and quivers through her body.  

"They are called poultry when they are alive," Diane Payton says. "They are chickens when they are dead." 

The Waikato Poultry & Pigeon Club Annual Championship judge takes her job seriously and teaching amateurs the lingo is just the start. 

Waikato Poultry & Pigeon Club show's annual championship judges Michael Ashton and Diane Payton with bird enthusiast ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Waikato Poultry & Pigeon Club show's annual championship judges Michael Ashton and Diane Payton with bird enthusiast Stephanie Giltrap, centre.

She can be even more cut throat when weeding out the also-rans among the contestants. 

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"You eat the faulty ones. You always eat your mistakes.

Waikato Poultry & Pigeon Club  is holding its 115th annual championship show at Hamilton Gardens over the weekend. Judge ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Waikato Poultry & Pigeon Club is holding its 115th annual championship show at Hamilton Gardens over the weekend. Judge Tony Taylor is pictured with a Jacobin Pigeon.

"People need to learn this."

Payton, of Pelorus Bridge in the Marlborough Sounds, is a respected member of the country's poultry and pigeon circles. At this year's show in Hamilton Gardens on Saturday and Sunday, she is judging the soft feather Bantam Pekin section.

It's a bird she knows well because she has been breeding them for decades. 

Payton is so passionate that her hands dance. She knows exactly what she looks for in a good Pekin Bantam. 

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"Preparation is key and you know when someone has prepared by the feel of feather quality when you stroke it," she said, fingers feathering. 

"It's a marvellous feeling to fondle a Pekin."

On the other hand, the ill prepared are marked accordingly. 

"I have seen broken foot feathers, dirty foot feathers, toenails not trimmed. It's not quality." 

Fellow judge Tony Taylor has been competing and judging for as long as Payton has. His badges and ribbons pinned to the front of his self-promoting embroidered lab coat prove this. 

Taylor, back in his younger days, was part of a poultry gang made up of five pigeon-showing teens. 

"We were called the 'young turks'. We were the new kids on the block, we shook things up and stirred the pot."

The young turks are now in their 60s and are still on the bird circuit, but these days they're wearing lab coats and doing the judging. 

Taylor looks at how a bird stands and how well the feathers look. He hates ruffled feathers. They don't look good and birds are marked down accordingly. 

One of the pigeons has stirred his ire. 

"Its feather behind its head is sticking up and pointing in all directions. It loses marks and she is not standing straight on her legs," he said. 

"When you've been doing this for as long as I have, you can pick a winner straight away." 

Payton agrees, but adds that not all show birds are winners. 

Fourteen judges marked more than 1250 entries, the second largest turnout in 20 years. 

More than 500 people attended the Saturday show at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion. Sunday, the show is open from 9am to noon. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 16.  

The annual championship has been running for 115 years. 

 

 

 - Stuff

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