Bill Scott of Wellington, NSW. Picture at The Doug Hogan Memorial Poultry Sale at The Lismore Showgrounds.
Bill Scott of Wellington, NSW. Picture at The Doug Hogan Memorial Poultry Sale at The Lismore Showgrounds. Patrick Gorbunovs

Poultry breeders are cock-a-hoop

MASTER chook breeder Doug Hogan spent his life creating an impeccable bloodline of heritage birds and yesterday's legacy auction was a testament to that passion.

More than 300 people looked on as 80 vendors from across Australia bid fiercely for Mr Hogan's prized chooks, in a "complete dispersal" sale where breeders could get their hands on the best bloodlines.

More than 170 birds were sold along with several pieces of breeding equipment, bringing in more than $10,000 - a portion of which will be donated to the Lismore Poultry Club.

Mr Hogan, who died last month aged 91, had an astonishing 82 years of experience breeding exhibition Rhode Island Reds, famed for their vitality, virility, bright yellow legs and generous plumage.

They were originally bred in the north-eastern region of the US some 160 years ago as a "utility bird" featuring well-textured meat, placid yet healthy demeanour, and prolific egg-laying.

Mr Hogan was recognised as a Rhode Island legend by his peers, capable of producing brilliant chickens with innovative methods which famously included feeding them beer dregs.

Evidence of the esteem his fellow breeders held for him was the sale of a prized show box inscribed with "Kevin Hogan" which fetched more than $300.

The new owner, a Hunter Valley breeder, will remove the name and frame it as a piece of history.

"It had to be the biggest auction ever of a single breed," sec- retary of the Lismore Poultry Club Steve Dubber said.

Mr Dubber said that Mr Hogan's birds' offspring would now be referred to as the "Doug Hogan bloodline".

"He'd managed to keep truer to the overall type than the Americans. It's a testament to Doug that people would pay that much for birds that bear his name."

Queensland Rhode Island Red breeder Geoff Robinson drove from Caboolture to spend $575 on seven chooks.

"I negotiated with Doug a number of times during his life to buy breeds but we never made a sale," Mr Robinson said.

"He was naturally reluctant to sell them; he was smart enough not to let his fellow breeders get under his guard, but at times he was also known for his generosity to up-and-comers."

"His knowledge and approach to poultry was unique. I'm still playing catch-up."

For those who missed out on a purchase, the last three remaining birds - hand-picked and considered to be "the best of the best" - will be sold in a special auction on June 29 at the Rhode Island Red Club of Australia's annual meet.

"In six months time once these birds mature, people will be embarking on becoming the new Doug Hogan," Mr Robinson said.

"The reward is in the satisfaction of creating something of grace and beauty."

"Most of us feel we've got big shoes to fill."



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