BRADFORD, Maine — Maddie DeMoranville, 13, knows an awful lot about chickens.
For years now, the teen has been pulling her weight and then some at 4D’s Farm in Bradford, where her family raises thousands of chickens and other birds. And Maddie thinks that more kids should have the chance to raise their own poultry, which is why she’s so excited about the Maine Poultry Connection’s chicken coop giveaway happening this month.
In that contest, two Maine kids each will win a new coop, six pullets, a feeder, a year’s worth of chicken feed and more.
“I want the winner to be someone that doesn’t have a lot of experience with chickens. Someone [for whom] this coop is their very first. That way, they can learn from it,” Maddie said. “It teaches them responsibility and collecting eggs and that kind of thing. It teaches them where their food comes from.”
Her father, Scott DeMoranville, has been raising chickens for more than 40 years and enjoys helping people get started with the backyard hobby or business. He started Maine Poultry Connection on Facebook four years ago, with the intention of creating a family-friendly resource for Mainers interested in buying and selling poultry and poultry-related items. It now boasts almost 4,300 members, who really came through when he had the idea to give a chicken coop to some kids. They raised more than $4,000 this winter in an online auction, with all the proceeds going to the coop giveaway.
“When you’ve got that many like-minded people, you’ve got a power,” Scott DeMoranville said. “We pooled that power together.”
Thanks to the generosity of all those poultry fans, Maine Poultry Connection has purchased the chicken coops and the other gear that will help the winners get off to a good start. Bangor Blue Seal Feeds has agreed to donate a 50-pound bag of grain per month for the first year to each winner, he said. The contest is open to all Maine children who are 12 years old and under, and so far about 30 kids from all over the state have sent in the application form, complete with a short essay explaining why they want chickens, how they would care for them and what it would mean to be selected. A team of readers will look at the essays and pick one boy and one girl to be the winners.
Getting something as simple as a chicken coop and six pullets can really make a difference in someone’s life, Scott DeMoranville thinks. He sees that with his own children, who help care for the birds and teach other people about raising poultry. And he saw how it changed him when he was a child.
“When I wanted my own flock of chickens as a boy, my father said to me, ‘That’s fine. You can have them. But you’re the one that’s going to lug their water in the mornings, and when it’s snowing out and when you want to play baseball instead,’” DeMoranville recalled. “What I took from that was the value of life, and the responsibility of taking care of something.”
The deadline for the Maine Poultry Connection’s chicken coop giveaway is 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 31. Applications can be found online and at the Maine Poultry Connection’s Facebook page, but they should be mailed to Scott DeMoranville, P.O. Box 122, Bradford, ME 04410.