Turkeys, Guineafowl and School Duck Challenge breed new interest in poultry at 2019 Hawkesbury Show

If you're anything like Phil Waites, the annual Hawkesbury Show is about the birds. The Vineyard resident was holed-up in the Poultry Pavilion for days leading up to the show's opening Friday, judging poultry.

He was responsible for three new categories for 2019: Turkeys, Guineafowl and the School Duck Challenge.

Four turkey breeds were represented, two males and two females. The Champion Turkey title was given to a male bronze wing - an impressive creature much larger than a nearby female white turkey, a more common breed.

"He's got good size, structure and depth, and strong bones - an all around good representative of his breed," Mr Waites said.

Six Guineafowl were entered - three males and three females - representing various breeds including lavender, pearl and cinnamon, which according to Mr Waites are the more common three types.

Mr Waites said Champion Guineafowl went to a lavender male, due to "the condition of the bird".

"All the Guineafowl here are fairly young, and easy to handle and calm. When you're showing them, that's important," he said.

"In the wild, Guineafowl will perch up in a tree, and they're great to let you know if any snakes or predators are around your house," he said, referring to the fearsome song the bird makes when it encounters something threatening, like mice or rats that could pose a risk to its eggs.

Mr Waites has been exhibiting and judging poultry for 30 years, and has won major awards including Champion Waterfowl at Sydney Royal and best bird in Australia.

His passion these days is mentoring the next generation of poultry enthusiasts.

"My parents had birds when they were kids. I'm second generation. I got involved and put some in a show and I've been doing it since I was 16," he said.

"I've won every major award over the years that I can win, so now the biggest push for me is getting kids involved."

Mr Waites was responsible for judging the School Duck Challenge at this year's show, which saw two-week-old ducklings given to school children, who reared them until they were eight weeks old, and entered them into the show.

Mr Waites said the competition was the "first of its kind in Australia", and the winner would "hopefully" enter the Sydney Royal.

"To see the smiles on the kids faces who have reared them for the show since they were little ducklings, it's just wonderful," Mr Waites said.

"I didn't have [games consoles] growing up - I was either playing sport or showing poultry.

"I think the more kids that get involved in outdoor activities, the better.

"We're starting to see a [positive] change in the number of young people becoming involved [in showing poultry]. I encourage any young person to get involved, like I did.

"I get enjoyment out of breeding the birds to sell - especially to sell onto juniors. Sometimes I've given birds away to juniors who have gone on to win shows with them."

The Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association gave the Poultry Pavilion an upgrade - including a new concreted floor - in time for this year's show.

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