NEW ULM — Minnesota’s oldest pigeon and poultry club kept its 109-year streak alive, hosting a swap and sale meet at the Brown County Fairgrounds Saturday.
“I’ve been going to shows here since the early 1950s, before this building was built,” said Brown County Pigeon & Poultry Association member Bob Kosek of Morgan.
“The shows are important to help keep historical and rare breeds alive by meeting with other breeders. It’s an effort to keep breeds from not going extinct, so they’re around for next generation breeders,” Kosek said.
For Mankato breeder Larry Wilmes, the poultry shows mean trips across the country. San Diego is his favorite destination because of the weather.
“I’ve been to many shows in many places,” Wilmes said. “I’ve been to national events in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Florida, Texas. I was at one not long ago in Vancouver, Wash.”
Wilmes said he has a good relationship with the U.S. Postal Service who flies his birds to distant shows.
“They (U.S. Postal Service) are very accommodating with special mailing boxes for my birds,” Wilmes said.
He said it would be good to add some younger people to the local pigeon and poultry association since the youngest member is now about 30 years old. Most of the group’s members have been around for decades. None of them voiced any plans to end their hobby.
“Breeding poultry and pigeons can be enjoyed by people in their 80s down to six-year-olds,” Wilmes said.
Doug Grams of New Ulm brought Dominique chicks to the swap meet. America’s oldest breed, they were plentifully bred as far back as the 1820’s.
“Dominque chickens were transported across the country by early settlers,” Grams said.
Also known as Pilgrim Fowl, or Dominickers, the breed descended from chickens brought to New England from southern England during colonial times. A dual purpose breed, Dominiques are valued for their meat and brown eggs.
In earlier times, their feathers were much sought after for pillow and mattress stuffing. They tend to be calm, personable birds, making them successful as show birds or family pets.
The breed survived the Great Depression due to it’s hardiness and ease of up-keep, according to The Livestock Conservancy (TLC).
In 1970, there were only four known flocks of the breed. The remaining owners were contacted and convinced to participate in a breed rescue, the TLC reported.
The close feathering of the breed protects the breed from cold weather and provides material for pillows and featherbeds of their owners.
“It’s wonderful, a great stress reliever,” association member Aaron Dittbenner of Morgan said about breeding pigeons and poultry and meeting with others with like interests.
Brown County Pigeon & Poultry Association member Trevor Nau said he enjoys competing with his birds plus the camaraderie and fellowship of fellow breeders.
The New Ulm Fall Classic Poultry Show is Nov. 18 & 19 at the Brown County Fairgrounds. A summer picnic is set for July 29.
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