Shikira Stehbens with one of her chickens at Rockhampton Show.
Shikira Stehbens with one of her chickens at Rockhampton Show. Allan Reinikka ROK140618astehben

Rocky girl's prize hens win best in show

FORGET puppies and kittens, the animals that are closest to Shakira Stehbens heart are of the fowl kind.

The 15-year-old Cathedral College student grew up around chickens since she was a baby and quickly fell in love with all the different kinds of poultry pets.

At last week's Rockhampton Agricultural Show, Miss Stehbens walked away with 22 awards for her 26 birds, including two ducks.

She also placed first in 11 divisions, including soft-feather Bantams and soft-feather large fowls.

"The judges looked for the ones that stand out the most and they check if all their feathers are in top condition and none are broken,” Miss Stehbens said.

"Then they go up against the others.

"They've got to meet Australian standards, there's a standard poultry book.

"They've got to have the right leg and eye colouring, and the right body size and weight for their age.”

Miss Stehbens spends most of her time at her family's property and also sells her hens' eggs at a corner stall in Farm St.

She wakes up early before school each day to tend to her birds and make sure they are fed and clean.

"They're just so calm natured and sometimes they're better to talk to than humans,” she said.

"They listen and don't talk back.

Shikira Stehbens with her grand champion chicken.
Shikira Stehbens with her grand champion chicken. Allan Reinikka ROK140618astehben

"[However] some have a vicious side.

"They're a lot like dogs and will follow you around if you're nice to them and build a trust with them like with a horse or cattle.”

Winding down from the excitement of the show on Friday, Miss Stehbens said she was preparing to take them back to the family's farm and get them ready for the next showcase.

"I'll keep all the show birds in the sawdust so they stay clean and then we'll send them out to Mount Larcom and Mount Morgan for the shows to see if they are really good and to test our luck,” she said.

"We went to the Caves Show and my little Dutch Bantom girl got reserve champion of the show there as well as in her section here.

"It's also my first time showing my big Australops and Langshans and they've done really well.

"My favourite would have to be my buff Cochin girl named Goldie.”