The feathered crest atop a Polish hen’s head makes it hard for it to see, but the plumage of a Ronkonkoma bird — resembling a flashy showgirl’s headdress — looks like a winner to the online voters in a nationwide Purina contest.
The prized plumage makes Polish chickens a sought-after breed and earned Mopsy the distinction of “Miss Fancy Feathers” in the annual Purina Miss Flock-Tober Facebook contest.
Amy Chaimowitz, a gym teacher at Sunrise Drive Elementary School in Sayville, entered Mopsy, her year-old frizzled bantam white Polish hen, in the social media competition earlier this month and beat out hundreds of other birds for the honor and some treats courtesy of Purina.
“She’s gorgeous,” wrote one commenter. “Must be the Long Island water. Makes good pizza and good feathers.”
Chaimowitz, 42, raises a flock of Polish and silkies, the latter of which is known for its kitten-like fur and an ‘80s glam band frontman tuft on its head, in her Ronkonkoma backyard. Silkie and Polish birds are not the most reliable egg layers, and silkies are unable to fly, but Chaimowitz said she chose the types for their good looks and docile natures.
“I wanted a breed that my children would be able to handle very easily,” she said. “Silkies are one of the tamest breeds,” she added, noting they are easy to pick up. “A lot of times, they don’t see you coming.”
Chaimowitz said she purchased Mopsy for $250 last year from a Wading River flock raiser. The hen joined a menagerie of chickens, three cats, two Australian shepherds, a guinea pig and a fish who live with Chaimowitz and sons Gabe, 18, and Jack, 13, and daughter Peyton Grace, 10.
She said her neighbors don’t complain about the squawking, though as Chaimowitz and any seasoned chicken keeper will tell you, it doesn’t hurt if you keep them supplied with fresh eggs.
Purina marketing manager Katie Signorelli said the backyard chicken feed industry saw major growth between 2012 and 2017, although she declined to provide exact numbers.
“We are seeing it growing from pockets in the country to this big geographical expansion where it’s pretty mainstream now,” Signorelli said. “It’s still pretty interesting and new, especially in urban areas.”
Mopsy and three other birds will be in the running for Miss Flock-Tober 2019, which begins Nov. 4. The grand prize is a year’s supply of Purina poultry feed. If they win, Chaimowitz and Peyton Grace plan to donate the award to a local animal rescue.