As you look at my website I just wanted to give you an insight into what has brought me to where I am today with the birds. I was introduced to poultry at age 6 with my great-grandfather; he raised Polish, not for showing, just as a backyard flock.
At age 12, I started going to the local auction with my step brother and we would buy birds there. We had waterfowl, rabbits and all sorts of poultry. He and I would spend weekends just taking care of and building pens and just enjoying the birds.
At age 14, I started showing for the first time at the Afton Fair. It was more of an exhibition over showing but that's where I won my first ribbons and I was hooked. After that fair I decided to show as an independent 4-her at our county fair. Here is where it all began. I met three gentlemen that changed my life. Mr. John Hayes, Mr. Stanley Braun and Mr Duane "Red" Turner. These guys were what you called string men. They had an assortment of quality birds and would go from fair to fair all summer. Their winnings were what covered their feed bill for the year. They took me "under their wings" so to speak and introduced me to the world of show poultry.
I bought my first pair of quality birds for $15 from John Hayes when I was 15. They were a pair of white rock bantam frizzles. He insisted I go to my first one day poultry show which was in Cobleskill, New York. I was 15, who would have thought 20 years later I would be running the show with the help of a lot of people. But anyway, this was the first time I saw real quality show birds. I met Tom Roebuck Sr, and George Schroeder who raised black Cochin bantams. George invited me to his house in Pennsylvania where he gave me a pair a birds and showed me how to artificially inseminate the birds. The quality Cochins are so heavily feathered they can not mate naturally unless trimmed/plucked or artificially done. I choose to artificially inseminate the birds for quality control and specific breeding's. Time consuming yes, but worth it. After that visit to George's I was hooked on Cochin's, and I started attending other weekend shows. Showing birds, buying birds, and meeting new people, who are now some of my best friends.
In my 20's I became the Superintendent of the fair where I started, and when I was 30; I started in an apprenticeship program for the American Poultry Association. The three gentlemen from the fair kept telling me I should go for my judges license. They knew more then I ever will, but I wanted to make them proud; so I signed up for the program and in 2005 I obtained my APA license and in 2008 my ABA license and bantam duck license. I have been all over the country and Canada judging. From California to Texas its been a whirlwind over the past years. Highlights for me have been judging at an APA National show and having the bird that I chose be selected as Best in Show and placed on the cover of the APA yearbook, a Cochin of course. Judging the Eastern Cochin National in 2011, in Indianapolis, at a show with over 12,000 birds. And then just recently judging in California, the Western Cochin National. These have been highlights because they center around my knowledge of Cochins and it has been an honor to be selected to judge them. There have been so many shows, so many judges that have made an impression on me.
My goal in this hobby is to promote and to help keep it going strong. The enjoyment I get out of raising, judging, and the friendships made have made me who I am today. I recently was published in "Backyard Poultry Magazine" which was another cool event. This hobby has given so much to me and has helped me live a happy and healthy life and I hope over the years I can be a mentor to new people in this hobby like so many people have to me.
With that said, I currently raise Cochins in the varieties listed for the past 15-20 years. I keep a line of Andalusians, Mille fleur d'uccles, Australorps, and Ameracaunas all show birds but they belonged to some friends who are no longer in the hobby and I will keep their lines going as long as I have birds.
Thanks for looking at my site
- Jamie Matts