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Dixie Classic

Mike, Bill Patterson and I headed out this weekend to the Dixie Classic in Knoxville Tennessee. We had a great weekend with friends and showed a van load of birds! Congratulations to Dr. Bill on Champion Bantam on a heck of Mille Fluer D’Uccle pullet. Mike and I had RB on a White Cochin Bantam pullet in a nice Cochins class. We placed a few Birchen Modern bantams and it was the first time back with them in the show halls in quite a while. We also showed a couple SC RI Red bantams thanks to old friend Rick Bond. And we had a display of Black Wyandotte Bantams and got the old 3 first curse our first time out with them after a long absence. 1c, 1h, 1k, 1 y trio and got beat by the 1 and 2 place pullets. Congratulations to friends John Phillpot with BB, Best RCCL and Jerry Little on RB.

Winning is always great but time spent with friends is what it’s all about. Dinner and drinks with our friends is always the best part of the weekend!

On to Shawnee Oklahoma next weekend for the ABA National. Our friend, Dustin Drake is chauffeuring Mike and I out to judge and look forward to another great weekend with our poultry friends! I will post a report on how Shawnee goes as we have about 14 hrs of ride time back and I will need something to do!


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State of Exhibition Poultry Hobby

I guess I get my hackle up a bit when I hear folks saying our hobby is dying.

I worked many years for the largest consumer products manufacturer in the world and was lucky enough to lead several large projects. I could do about anything I wanted as long as my recommendations were data based.

The data suggests the hobby is stronger than it’s ever been. There are more members in both the major organizations than there have ever been. The youth programs are stronger than ever and were basically non existent till the mid 1990’s. The recent APA National proves that the shows are strong and the desire to attend is tremendous. This is probably the best time in the past 100 years for backyard and exhibition poultry.

These doomsday folks usually have not been around very long or draw their opinions from poor data and fail to look at the hobby overall.

I was around during the energy crisis in the late 1970’s. That had a devastating effect on most large waterfowl and large Fowl chickens. Club membership was at an all time low and backyard poultry keeping was extremely rare.

I try to avoid those who are always whining and negative about our hobby as they tend to be that way about life in general. Live in the present and enjoy this great hobby we all have worked hard to build. You can’t do a damn thing about the past and you can work hard to shape the future without all the negativity.

I came back out of retirement to help the ABA accomplish a few things to make the hobby better. I could have sat back and whined and bitched about everyone else not doing anything but those that know me will tell you I am not built that way. Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way!

To sum up today’s blog ie, rant-as a judge, we are tasked with finding the best bird in the class. You can do that two ways, focus on the positives of the bird and correctly weigh its defects into the scale of points or just focus on the defects and back yourself into a corner.

Don’t let anyone doomsday you about the hobby, focus on all the positives and move forward!

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Virginia Poultry Breeders Show

Mike, David Adkins, Tim Bowles and I were blessed to be asked to judge the Virginia Poultry Breeders Show in Ruther Glen, VA this past Saturday.

Mike and I headed down on Friday morning making our usual stop in Logan, Ohio at the Old Dutch Buffet for Lunch. We filled Google Maps and it took us thru West Virginia and Maryland on Route 50. Wow was the word, Many curves and turns through the Appalachian mountains but we got there! Thanks to Jeff Shenk for a better way back to Ohio!

We were put up in an old southern Mansion Airbnb that was very nice and a great time for all of us to chat in the parlor before calling it a night and heading back to the show to judge Saturday morning.

Thanks to John Miles, Paul Gilroy and crew for a well run and enjoyable show. We were wrapped up with the judging about 2 pm and it was a beautiful sunny day. I enjoyed my first time judging in Virginia and was at the show years ago in Richmond for the World Cochin Family National.

This fall and winter is stacked up pretty good and I get a week off but Mike is heading to Dalton, GA this Saturday to judge. Then it’s on to the Dixie Classic in Knoxville the next week followed by the ABA National in Shawnee Ok the next week.

I will get back from Shawnee and the following week is the Top of Ohio Pigeon Show. We get a couple weeks off and it’s off to the Florida Sunshine Classic the first weekend in January. I also head out to Lodi, California at the end of January to judge the Pacific Poultry Breeders Show.

This hobby keeps me very busy and I do enjoy traveling all over to meet people and see different birds.

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and will be back on here after the Holiday!


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2023 Ohio National

I rested up some from a 4 day exhibition poultry extravaganza at the Ohio National. It was the APA National and their 150th Anniversary Show.

Kudos and hats off to the Ohio National staff and crew and the APA Officers and Directors for a job well done and a historic and memorable weekend.

I was busy judging the Junior Large Fowl on Friday and we got the Champions picked around 9:30 on Saturday so it left the rest of the day to talk to both old and new friends and check out the birds.

I really enjoyed the banquet on Saturday and it was very well done. I am not a fan of banquets but was glad I went. I also enjoyed the new selection of Champions format they used this year. Hats off to Dan Castle and Jeff Halbach for the informative and thorough evaluation of all the class champions.

One of the real highlights was the opportunity to purchase some original Schilling Partridge Cochin Large Fowl paintings from the APA Standard of Perfection many years ago. I have the pics below and couldn’t resist as I also have an original Sewell of Large Fowl Partridge Cochins.

Also a few photos from the banquet as several dressed up in period costumes and had a good time!

I have been to most of the big shows in my 54 years in the hobby and I believe this was my favorite one of all time. Just a relaxed and enjoyable weekend with my Poultry friends and family. I should know better than to drink with our Canadian friends, but we had some fun almost every night.

I need to rest up as Knoxville and Shawnee OK are coming up and plan to be at both!


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Fall is here

Mike and I are just back in from a judging trip to Morganton, NC at the Friendship Show. I always enjoy our trips to the South as they are some of the most friendly and polite folks in the land.

I had a great day talking and judging birds and there were some mighty nice ones there. Pleasure having Wil Hadley as my clerk and he will make a good judge someday.

Thanks to Jimmy Sorrels and Keith Proctor for a smooth well run show. We even got booked for their 2025 Winter Show!

It’s been a crazy busy fall so far as we have been out most weekends since Labor Day and it won’t stop till the end of January.

We took next weekend off to go down and help with the setup of the Ohio National. This is going to be something special for sure and glad we can be a part of it. Several records will be broken. 5000 bantams, 1200 bantam ducks makes it the largest ABA District meet ever and larger than most ABA Nationals. The Junior Numbers make it the largest Junior show ever held. They have gave over 1000 Large Ducks and 300 Geese and combined with the bantam ducks possibly the largest waterfowl show ever.

I went to my first Ohio National in 1972 and have been to all but a couple since then. The big ones are so overwhelming you have to pick and choose the things you want to see. Clell Agler told me they will be using every inch of 150,000 square feet of the two buildings. The sale area will be something to see and the vendor and breed club areas will be amazing.

After The Ohio National, Mike and I are headed to Virginia to judge. Have not been that way since the Tommy Stanley days so looking forward to checking it out.

I took the Thanksgiving weekend off but Mike is heading to Dalton, Ga to judge. We then head to the Dixie Classic in Knoxville to finally get to show a few. After that, it is out to the ABA National in Shawnee, OK. The next week is the Top of Ohio Pigeon Show on Sidney, Ohio.

Busy fall for sure and hope to see everyone somewhere in our travels.


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Fair Time is Coming!

The spring shows are all done for us and it’s time to think about the fair shows. Most of us got our first exposure to exhibition poultry at a county or state fair and I encourage everyone to support them and promote our hobby!

Last year was my first time that I was able to exhibit at the Ohio State Fair and we had a wonderful time. Our birds were well cared for by the fair staff and we enjoyed meeting up with both old and new friends.

This year they are adding a new feature, a double show. The first show is for the great fair premiums and the second show is for ABA and APA points. If you have never been there as an exhibitor, I highly recommend bringing your birds! Competition is very keen and as good as any open poultry show so bring the best!

They always have a great lineup of some of the top judges in the US and many top breeders make this a show they won’t miss. Come on over to Columbus Ohio, the end of July and check it out. Entries close June 21st and that is not far away. The link to the fair info is above and this will be our summer warm up show to get prepped for the big APA 150th Anniversary Show in November at the same fairgrounds! Hope the birds are growing out well and hope to see you at the fair!

Matt Lhamon

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Saulk Trail Show

For many years, I spent Memorial Day weekend at the Southern Ohio Poultry Breeders Show in Lucasville, Ohio. The last few years, I have attended the Saulk Trail Poultry Show on Memorial Day weekend in Hillsdale, MI once Southern Ohio quit having their show.

A well run show with great judges makes for a fantastic weekend. Kudos to the Gabbard’s and crew for their hard work and making an enjoyable weekend for the exhibitors. It’s always a thankless job but I appreciate all the hard work and sacrifices you make for this crazy hobby.

Kraig Shafer, Cam Cosart and I headed up on Friday and got there a bit early so we pitched in and helped do whatever was needed. We got the birds in and tended to and talked some and headed to the hotel for some dinner and rest.

Cam was blessed with Champion and Reserve SCCL in both shows on a White Plymouth Rock Hen as Champion and a Barred pullet as Reserve. He won Reserve Bantam in one show and was thrilled to clerk for Paul Monteith all day.

M&M was blessed with RB in both Shows on a White Cochin Bantam pullet, same bird this time and it was her first show. Congrats to Matt McCammon on BB and Best FL with some nice blacks and he won Best of one Show with a hen.

We were also blessed with Reserve Bantam in the White Card Show and Champion AOCCL on a White Chantecler. She was Reserve AOCCL in the other show. We have been working hard on these Chanteclers the last several years and it’s satisfying to see them come to the top!

Another pleasant surprise was Best Modern Bantam in the White Card Show on a Birchen pullet. We are back in Moderns once again thanks to Jeff Duguay from Louisiana. This bird was straight from Jeff and I like his style of Moderns!

Please consider spending your Memorial Day weekend next year in Hillsdale MI, you won’t be disappointed! Have a super Holiday weekend and we are resting up till the Big Ohio State Fair double show this summer! Keep Mike Sayre in your prayers on the passing of his Mother, Janet, last week. He and Terry had an anniversary this weekend as well so wish them the best!



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Blog time

Hope all are well and Mike and I are coming off the win and show of a Lifetime. We have done a lot of things the past 25 years of showing as M&M Exhibition Poultry. We were able to win show champions at both shows at the Moon City Show in Wapakoneta,OH on two different White Cochin Bantam pullets.

I was over selling feed and not paying attention . I was both honored and shocked. Many thanks to the great crew of Judges and to Leisha, Stephanie and crew for all their hard work and efficiently putting on a great double show.

Our protege, Cam Cosart, did well in the Junior show as he exhibited the best Barred Rock pullet I have ever handled. I am glad he wasn’t in the open show. He won Champion of Both Junior Shows which was a fantastic accomplishment for him.

I told Cam a few years ago, never expect anything at a poultry or pigeon show and you will never be disappointed. He has that attitude at every show win or lose and is a great kid crazy about the hobby.

We have had a week off and now it’s time to get the string ready for their last show of the spring, Saulk Trail in Hillsdale MI. Kraig Shafer, Cam and I are heading up on Friday and always enjoy this show. The Gabbard’s work very hard to put on a great show following in the old Lucasville traditions of Memorial Day. Mike and Terry Sayre have their anniversary that weekend and for quite a few years she left him off to go to Lucasville,this year he is taking her on a holiday in Kentucky.

Have a great week, Memorial Day weekend and we will be back next week with another report.

Matt Lhamon

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Defect Elimination

If there was one thing I took away from my 16 1/2 years with P&G, it was a process called Defect Elimination. You were required as part of your work plan to find and fix defects in the work processes and systems and you were measured accordingly to your success.

I applied it to my poultry hobby a few years ago and it has made it better. You must first identify the defect and analyze the reasons why the defect exists. You must get to the root cause of that defect in order to fix it. Sounds easy but getting the true root cause of a defect can be challenging. Once the root cause is identified, your solutions can be tested. It was a complicated process and we had digital tools to help solve them.

In the exhibition poultry hobby, I tried to simplify it some and I will use a poor hatching rate as an example. I was tired of getting a 50% hatch out of fertile eggs. That was my defect. Poor hatch rate. I was lucky enough to have my daughter to help me as she has a Master’s Degree in Hatchery Management from the University of Arkansas. We broke out some eggs that did not hatch and she was able to make a reasonable assumption as to why they did not hatch. I was always taught to watch the air cell to determine the status of the embryo but several eggs with the same size air cell did not hatch. The ones that did sometimes were sticky and many were spraddle legged.

The Defect; poor hatch rate, possible root cause; inconsistent temperature and humidity. Possible solution; better incubation control and procedures.

I tested out about every incubator made to find one that would give me constant temperature and humidity without having to tweak settings all the time. I was able to increase the hatch percentage and quality of chicks hatched but I did not totally eliminate the defect as we still had fluctuating temps and humidity and still had to tweak settings.

In my research about 4 years, I heard about a new incubator in Europe called Cimuka. There were rave reviews about the exact thing I was looking for, constant temperature and humidity! I followed the company for a couple years and two years ago I ordered one from the US distributor, Hatching Time. The rest is pretty much history, my hatch percentages are in the high 90’s, chick quality is excellent and they are pretty much set and forget unit. The air flow, temp and humidity control mimic a commercial incubator. I have recommended this incubator to many fanciers and I smile to see so many people having success with them.

So that defect was marked off as completed. There are still several defects I am working on but every fertile egg should hatch and the next one will be unexplained chick death. There is a root cause as to why a chick dies in the brooder, I don’t lose many but again I aim to drive that defect to zero! Determining the root cause will be tough but I enjoy the challenge.

In a future blog, I will explain what I did about Marek’s disease in my birds! Hope this helps some of our followers and friends think through the Defect Elimination process and help them get to zero defects!

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Why do we do this?

Hello everyone this is Mike as Matt posted in an earlier blog we were at the Dayton Fancy Feather Show this past weekend and had a great time although we didn’t have a great time with the placing of our birds and it got me thinking about what we do for a hobby.

I know that ultimately the idea is to win, but that being said that is just temporary but if you get to see old friends and we have a lot of those having done this for over 50 years, and making new one’s well that’s the value in our hobby. Folks when it comes down to it, they are just chickens, or ducks or geese or whatever but the people are the reason for going not the points or ribbons or trophy’s etc. It’s the relationships, the laughing, hand shaking, hugging, talking enjoying each other’s company….not what the opinion of one person passing judgement at a moment in time on a feathered animal.

We started showing poultry at a different time long ago, we went to the bull sessions where the “big time” breeders held court, enjoying various beverages and talking things over, we listened….then maybe next time asked a question or 2 and listened to the answer…in time we earned their respect. It was a great time to be alive and involved in the fancy, there were no points awarded just folks of a like mind from all walks of life with a common interest. This still exists if YOU want it to….this as everything in life is what you make it. Choose wisely, be as serious as you can getting them hatched,raised, conditioned etc. Put them in the cage knowing you have done all you can then let it go. Find some folks, have a meal, have a beverage, talk, laugh, cry whatever but make connections no matter what happens in the judging arena have fun. You will have prospered more than you can imagine. Keep smiling and if you see a couple of old guys from Ohio holding court and enjoying themselves come on up and join, that my friends is the truly wonderful part of out hobby.

More later, see you all somewhere down the line.