Last week, Big Walnut senior Jordan Koebel chose the three chickens he planned to show in the Pen of 3 Market Chickens competition at the Delaware County Fair on Saturday.
Koebel, 17, said Tuesday that it’s a good thing he also picked a backup chicken because he found one of his chickens had died from the heat Friday night, less than a day before the competition.
“I was happy just to get into finals at that point,” Koebel said.
Koebel said he has been entering chickens into the 4-H Pen of 3 Market Chickens Show since he was in fourth grade. Up until this year, he had won reserve champion, third place, fifth place and sixth place.
On Saturday, Koebel reached the pinnacle by showing the Grand Champion Pen of 3 Market Chickens.
“It was really a shock,” Koebel said. “I’ve never been able to win. It’s just kind of funny that the year I lose a chicken the day before the fair, I end up winning.
“So it worked out,” he added.
Koebel said he joined 4-H in fourth grade and started raising chickens shortly thereafter. Koebel explained that each year he gets 12 chicks that are just two days old and feeds and takes care of them daily for about seven weeks before the fair.
“They aren’t typical livestock,” Koebel said. “You don’t have to handle them at all or make sure they get exercise or practice with them.”
Koebel said chickens aren’t a type of livestock that you form a relationship with or an attachment to.
“Chickens are funny,” he said. “They are so dumb. You don’t really grow any relationship, because they are so dumb.”
Koebel said he can attribute at least part of his success to the Wecker family, who took reserve champion in the Pen of 3 Market Chickens competition.
“They are really the ones who helped me get my feet when it comes to chickens,” he said. “They are really good people, and they’ve always been very supportive and very helpful.”
Koebel said one of his favorite parts of raising chickens is coming to the fair.
“I enjoy coming to the fair and competing,” Koebel said. “It’s fun to be around the barn and be around people I’ve been with for so long.”
Koebel said he is eligible to compete again next year, but he isn’t sure it that will pan out since he will begin studying engineering at Ohio Northern University.
Koebel encouraged other young competitors in 4-H to “stick with it.”
“Some years you have a bad year,” he said. “If you are having fun, you are doing something right. 4-H isn’t about winning every year.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.