Cream of Chicken Coop - Newquay fancier Clive Stephens' hen wins National Poultry Show
A CHICKEN from Newquay has been named the UK's most 'beauti-fowl' hen – despite a grooming regime that consists solely of baths in Fairy Liquid.
The black mottled pekin, known simply as 'Hen' and owned by poultry fancier Clive Stephens, won the Show Champion cup at the 2013 National Poultry Show in Warwickshire.
Mr Stephens, 62, has been trying his c-luck at the event since 1972 but this is the first time one of his birds bagged the top prize.
He said he'd developed a foolproof beauty regime for pristine plumage; Fairy Liquid for dark-coloured birds and Dove Body Wash for lighter ones.
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The grandfather of two, of Hilgrove Road, said: "I've used all sorts over the years; every fancier probably has a different method but this one works for me. Shampooing the black ones with Fairy Liquid seems to give them a perfect sheen, but it's too drastic for the whites, so I use something milder – Dove Body Wash.
"They quite like it. After a bath you feel completely refreshed; it's the same for them."
Mr Stephens said he and wife Margaret were gob-smacked when it was announced last Sunday that Hen had won the show cup.
Their feathery friend had to fend off competition from 6,000 other birds across 180 classes.
Mr Stephens, a retired carpenter, said: "I thought it might take a bit to beat her but getting the top prize was amazing. It's beyond a dream.
"We didn't actually get the cup to take home. It's worth £150,000 so they don't take it out the vault these days. We got a painting of the cup, which is hanging up in the living room."
The couple have around 200 hens during the breeding season, although some breeders boast up to 14,000, according to Mr Stephens, who is thinking of retiring as a fancier this year.
"This seems a good year to bow out on. I can't do any better now," he said.
Mr Stephens admitted Hen was not the most imaginative name for the UK's most glamorous chicken, and challenged readers to think of one. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any ideas.