Quieted by sights, sounds, rooster doesn't act so cocky

LISBON -- Amid a barn full of clucking and cock-a-doodle-dooing, Boo Boo quietly listened to his fellow chickens and watched as people streamed past.
The stately, 71/2-pound Rhode Island red rooster has never been to a fair before, and his first day may have been a bit overwhelming.
"He's not used to this many people walking by," said his owner, Josh Van Kirk of Leetonia. "He's the head rooster at home."
Boo Boo will compete against other fancy chickens at the Columbiana County Fair this week. Josh comes to the fair every year, but this is the first year he has shown chickens. Besides the year-old Boo Boo, he brought an Rhode Island red hen and three specially bred meat roosters.
"I just named him because I always played with him," Josh said. "I take him out and put him on my lap."
A tough job: The 11-year old, who will celebrate his birthday Friday, said that chickens are harder to care for than they seem.
"You have to make sure they're clean," Josh said. "Bathing chickens is not fun."
Washing chickens is a complicated process using four buckets -- filled with soap, vinegar, bleach and rinse -- and a blow dryer. Josh also used a special cleanser to get the stains out of their feathers. For the fancy birds, he put petroleum jelly on their legs to kill mites and keep them soft.
"I just like bringing my chickens," Josh said as he stroked Boo Boo. "He's just so big. I like to show him off."
He doesn't feel the same way about his meat chickens.
"Meat chickens are too much work because you have to keep feeding them all day long," Josh said. "They grow three times as fast as regular chickens, and you have to keep their feeders off the ground, or they'll just lay down and eat and have a heart attack."
His sisters Richelle, 16, and Katelin, 13, are also showing chickens at the fair.
Judging, auction: Park Farms in Canton donated 850 chicks to 40 4-H kids earlier this year for the competition. Meat-chicken judging took place Monday night, and fancy-chicken judging will be 10 a.m. Thursday. The poultry and rabbit auction is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday in the government building.
"We need people to come buy them," said Bette Allen, chairwoman of the rabbit and poultry barn. "We have them processed, and we deliver."
Allen said that purchasers will get a plaque, a thank-you gift and a ribbon, if they buy a winner.
Josh said he will get the money from selling his meat chickens in the auction, but he doesn't know what he'll do with it.
"Maybe I'll end up spending it," he said with a shrug and a smile.
Mum's the word: Chickens aren't the only animals Josh will display this year. His horse Mum will compete Friday in barrel competitions and a speed and control course. This is the first year Mum will compete, but Josh has shown four horses since he was 8.
"There's a lot of competition with horses," he said, but he thinks he'll do pretty well. "She's the fastest horse in the barn in the long run," he added proudly.

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