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Breeder Profile - Mick and Shirley Young (NSW)Mick and Shirley

Mick and Shirley Young from Gloucester in NSW will need no introduction to our members. Mick and Shirley have had a remarkable record with showing Wyandottes and their White bantams have snared numerous major awards at leading shows in NSW. Mick and Shirley have shown their bantams with tremendous success everywhere from Parkes in the Central West to leading exhibitions on the Central coast, the Taree region and at other leading Wyandotte shows in NSW. They are known for their preparation of quality exhibits that always make for an impressive showing.

These birds have won major awards at most leading shows and regularly have taken Bird of Show Awards. Mick and Shirley are unassuming exhibitors and both Mick and Shirley  are known for their quiet dispositions. Their birds are known for the excellent preparation which means the birds are always well in the honors at the end of any show. Mick has also played his part in the administrative side of poultry and proudly boasts the record of being President of Gloucester Poultry club for 30 years straight. This role concluded in 2000. When we think of White Wyandottes the Youngs spring to mind and have enjoyed a showing record with this variety that would be hard to surpass. Major awards have been regularly gained at a lot of the top shows in NSW.

Shirley too has become a famous for selling raffle tickets at the Hunter Valley Show and together with Rhonda Shelton they are a formidable force. The wonderful prizes in the raffle are often made by Shirley and Rhonda.

Mick and Shirley live in Gloucester in NSW and have a nice neat 5 acre block to raise and rear their white Wyandotte bantams. The birds are reared in open and spacious yards, all with grass runs. The grass runs undoubtedly add to the quality of the birds produced with the youngsters having quality feathering, leg and eye colour. Not one to muck around Mick recalled that when the block was purchased he built the fowl pens first. This block has produced good numbers of Whites for many years and Mick has extended his fowls to also include Rosecombs, Pekins and more recently Anconas for Shirley.

These popular fanciers have clocked well over fifty years in the poultry game and Mick can recall keeping poultry on a farm when he was 6 years old. Shirley began her career in poultry some 52 years ago, joining Mick on the show circuit. The familiar sight of his father’s Silver Spangled Hamburghs from 70 years ago probably ignited Mick’s interest in fowls and whilst they were kept for their utility qualities of producing eggs and meat, they probably began Mick’s love affair with poultry. It is a love affair with poultry that has seen Mick breed a number of poultry breed with success over the next 6 decades. He has kept a wide variety of birds but more recently has settled on the afore mentioned breeds. When one considers the work attached to breeds like the Rosecomb and the white of the Wyandottes one can only appreciate the effort these two fanciers obviously go to show quality birds. Toss in two other soft feather bantam breeds in Anconas and Pekins and one is truly staggered by this effort. At the Hunter Valley Softfeather Bantam show recently Mick and Shirley Showed the Champion Natural, Heavy and Light Bantam in one day. Their white bantam cockerel went on to be Best in Show. This surely is testimony to the quality of birds they produce and have produced year in and year out.

A switch in focus from large game fowl saw Mick settle on White Wyandotte bantams. Mick was keen to source the best birds available and settled on his original birds from Pat and Dot Birchall from Mudgee. Later on in 2005 he also sourced birds from Duane Rhall and the blending of these two reputable bloodlines have seen some exceptional birds produced. It proved to be the right choice and one that most fanciers can only dream of and the production of first class birds began. What was in store was a showing record of birds of this variety at a level of success that is truly astounding. Since that time Mick and Shirley have not looked back and have undertaken a showing journey that only a few will experience.

Although their successes have been many Mick and Shirley have enjoyed the contact of the fancy and have taken pleasure from the friends they have made. One can only imagine that this band of friends stretches across dozens of people and hundreds of kilometers across the land. This involvement has come about because they are such easy people to get along with, cheerful and happy to show birds and to discuss fowls at the shows they attend. At most shows Mick can be found with a throng of exhibitors around him talking fowls and discussing the finer points of the birds on display. He shows a tremendous knowledge of birds and is very willing to share his knowledge. This knowledge has been assembled from a lifetime association with birds and exhibiting hem at the leading shows in the districts in which the Youngs have lived.

These days Mick also enjoys the cricket on television and also watching the boxing.

The Youngs use a Multiplo incubator to hatch their chickens and believe crumbles, cracked grain like wheat and corn are essential for getting the new chickens off to a good start. Mick also suggested that the use of boiled grain was also an important part of his bird’s diet and that he uses it to bring the best out in his fowls. The use of the incubator allows Mick to set his eggs regularly and to set the pace of his hatches to fit in with his busy schedule. The incubators bring reliability and ease of operation ensures he hatches his birds when he wants them. Brooders are used to raise the chickens when they leave the incubator. They also suggest that the husbandry side of their hobby is a major way they have been able to ensure their continued success and that the way the birds are kept and reared plays a huge role in any success. They have a simple and straightforward philosophy and that is that you should put in heaps of effort when rearing fowls and this simple practice ensures that quality will be present.

When pressed about his favorite bird Mick was quick to point out that no one bird was special but that he had several special birds that brought memorable wins to him. One can only imagine that these special birds might number quite a few given the level of success that the Young birds have enjoyed.

The Youngs also keep basic records and toe punch the youngsters in order to keep an eye on where the good ones come from. Both Mick and Shirley enjoy rearing lots of youngsters and although the chickens make for a busy time they enjoy the challenge of breeding and then rearing good, quality birds. Mick credits a lot of the success to the partnership with Shirley and believes teamwork accounts for a lot of the success of this formidable pair of fanciers. A keen eye, being observant, feeding the stock well and working closely with Shirley are also other factors that are credited with the success they enjoy.

In the breeding season Mick pays particular attention to the detail and looks for things like a bit of leg, not too long, short beak and good head and eye, tight in feather around the hock and good curve in body and the tail setting. Of course he suggests that when establishing a good strain of wyandottes the would be fancier should purchase stock from a reputable breeder, breeding closely and adhering to line breeding principles. In the time that Wyandottes have been kept Mick and Shirley felt they needed to improve the combs on the original stock and I brought in some birds which were strong in this feature and the pairings worked  and we continued on with these. Of course anyone who has seen the Young strain would have to agree they have exceptional heads. Mick and Shirley pay particular attention to the growing stock and keep close look out for comb defects, toe problems. Eye color is very important. Both agree that they always put type first. When mating their birds they aim to put best with best but are careful to check that the occupants of their breeding pens must match each other and compliment each other.

Showing white fowls is never easy and of course the need to keep them clean is a real problem for the Youngs. Keeping the exhibits clean is, both admit a great challenge, but given the pristine manner they are presented with the Youngs have obviously found a tried and successful method for this. Anyone who has seen their birds benched would not have seen a scrape of dirt on the fowls and they are immaculate in their presentation of all their exhibits. Mick and Shirley enjoy showing their fowls and both a quick to state that the Wyandotte Feature shows are important events on their annual calendar. Washing white fowls is an art form and again they have a simple approach. “We always wash 3-4 days before every show and then place the birds onto clean sawdust when dry. We dry in the sun where the birds are placed in round cages on the lawn.  We use a dressing for the legs and comb.

There have been many notable wins over the years but the winning of 12 out of 13 top awards with Wyandottes in 2010 show season was a real highlight for these two fanciers. The also managed to snag the 13 the win but this was with a Pekin! Of course the admission that these awards were the best we could achieve on that day, either Best Soft feather or Bird of Show is truly staggering. Many exhibitors would not win 12 Birds of Show or Champion Bantams in a lifetime of showing and the feat of gaining this many awards in one show season is truly impressive. This sort of record indicates the type of birds and the way they are presented to the judges as well the quality of the stock produced.

Some modern trends that concern Mick is the absence of young fanciers taking fowls on and the impinging and restrictive practices of local councils which do little to support the long term prospects of keeping fowls. Although Mick believes Wyandottes have not changed much since he came into them he does recall the old days when birds were railed to shows by train. He also thinks some recent trends in Wyandottes are a real concern and feels “a lot of wyandottes are getting too long in the head with a long beak, and some are getting too loose in the feather.  Personally I really prefer a bird with a bit of leg under them”.


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