NEW SHARON - A six-year-old has his own brood to take care of after winning a unique statewide essay contest.
James Davis Jr., is now the proud owner of six chickens, a rooster, a fancy new chicken coop to shelter them and a year's worth of free grain to keep those eggs coming.
The Maine Poultry Connection sponsored the chicken coop giveaway with one boy and one girl winning the contest by writing an essay to explain why they want to keep chickens and how they think it will benefit them. Parents were also asked for their plan on taking care of chickens.
Scott DeMoranville of 4D's Farm in Bradford has raised poultry for decades and started The Maine Poultry Connection four years ago to help beginner families who need to know how to get started. He came up with the contest idea and had six volunteer advisory committee members reading through a share of the 140 entries sent in from budding young poultry farmers across the state.
Davis's hand-written essay explained he "could show my baby cousin Carson how to be a good farmer. He's from the city so I have to show him where eggs come from. He needs to know what chickens say too. I would like to eat fresh eggs with Carson and my sisters."
DeMoranville said the contest's judges were struck by the six-year-old's intent "to spread the infection of wanting chickens beyond himself" and that "he felt the need to show his cousin where eggs come from. That's pretty in depth for a boy that age," he said.
Davis began his essay by saying he should win "because I really, really want to show chickens to get lots of trophies. My sister shows cows and I like cows but I think I'd be very good at showing chickens. I could win a lot of shows with my chickens."
He ends his essay with "It would make me very happy to care for them. Thank you very much, James Davis."
The first contest judge from the town of Prospect chose Davis's essay as her first pick for one written by a boy, and the committee, selecting from the top picks of the judges, was unanimous in choosing Davis as the award winner.
"It was a tough decision for us because there were so many good ones," DeMoranville said. This is the first year of the contest and the group intends to hold it each year.
The contest's goal is to ignite children with an interest in raising poultry with little or no experience themselves. According to the contest rules, the giveaway "is an effort to help young people realize the enjoyment of keeping poultry and understand the benefits and pride in raising a backyard flock for eggs and enjoyment."
Through the more than 4,700 connection members, funding was raised to provide for a new chicken coop, henyard, feeder, water fountain, a garment with the MPC logo, a copy of the American Standard of Perfection and donated the chickens. In addition, Blue Seal Feeds of Bangor agreed to supply each of the state's two winners with a 50-pound bag of chicken feed a month for the first year. Kendall Killam, 5, of Monson, was the other top contest winner. There were 10 runners up who will receive a sweatshirt with a logo and subscription to Poultry Magazine.
"We all were surprised when we got the call he had won," Davis's father, Jim Davis said.
On Sunday, the Mallett School student's prize, which also included a rooster, arrived at the family's Silver Valley Farm, a fifth generation dairy producer, on Farmington Falls Road.
"We kept it a secret on when they were coming to deliver the coop and chickens. He saw them come around the corner of our driveway and was jumping up and down with excitement that his chicken coop and chickens were here."
"I knew we made a good choice when James was first in line to take the first hen and place it in the coop," DeMoranville said. As a carpentry/voc-tech instructor for the Department of Corrections, he was asked if next year's contest winner coops could be made by inmates. Delighted to, DeMoranville said it will not only be a great experience for the inmates in his classes, but will cut down on the cost of building the chicken coops. "That means we can make more to give to more kids," he said.
Ever since his prize-winnings arrived two days ago, "he has been out with his chickens checking on them. He is one very happy and thankful boy," his father said.
Below is award-winning essay written by James Davis. Jr.
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