Young breeder flying high
BREEDING beautiful birds comes naturally to Jesse Casson.
The Richmond River High School student, aged 14, started raising chooks and ducks only a year ago, and already he's become a rising champion of the craft.
By day he's a regular high school lad, but catch him in the early morning or after school and he will be tending to his flock.
One of the youngest members of the Lismore Poultry Club, he has made his mark on the major shows this year with his Old English Game bantams and Indian Runner ducks, taking out several prizes.
Last month his Indian Runners won the Champion Waterfowl category at the North Coast national, while at the Alstonville Show last weekend his Old English Game bantams took out top honours in their category, winning champion and reserve champion.
"It's a pretty big honour to get that - Old English Game was the feature fowl for that show so there were some top breeders," Jesse's dad Shane Casson said.
"I was expecting to do well but not as well as I did," Jesse said.
Growing up on a Caniaba beef cattle property has given the Year 9 student a good instinct for raising farm animals.
He usually gets up at 6am every morning, strolls over to his poultry shed, and feeds his entire flock, and does the same thing every day after school. And the job is more than feeding the birds and taking them to shows.
"He's got to spray them, worm them, make sure they don't get lice - last night we vaccinated a lot of the chickens," mum Michelle Casson said.
Along the way, the experienced breeders, typically at least four decades Jesse's senior, have taken him under their wing. But lately they have been put on notice - and there's plenty more birds on the way.
"He's got about 80 chickens at home, so look out next year," Mrs Casson said.