Chicken People

Synopsis: Chicken People is a funny and uplifting look at the world of show chickens and the people who love them. Starting at the largest national poultry competition, likened to the Westminster Dog Show for chickens, Chicken People follows three top competitors over the course of a year as they grapple with life's challenges while vying to win the next year's crown. Both humorous and heartfelt, Chicken People is an unforgettable celebration of the human spirit.
Director(s): Nicole Lucas Haimes
Production: Motto Pictures
  2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
83 min


- When I'm working

with my chickens,

I feel that it calms them.

Maybe it doesn't;

Maybe they hate it.

But, you know...


when I'm awfully low

when the world is cold

I will feel a glow

just thinking of you

just the way

you look tonight

- I've studied my

"standard of perfection"...

Time and time and time again.

- We're trying to create a bird

that looks exactly

like the "standard

of perfection."

That's a book that was drawn

over 100 years ago.

Each breed has

an excellent illustration

of what it should look like.

We have a written description

of every feather,

what it's exactly

supposed to be.

And everyone strives

to get the bird

as perfectly to that standard

as you can.

- Instead of reading

a novel or, you know, fiction,

I get out

my chicken "standard,"

and I'm constantly striving

to educate myself

on things that I might not be

so well-versed at.

- If you understand your breed

and you understand

the "standard,"

then you know you're confident

in what you're raising.

And you really want the judge

to see that.

- We've never created

a perfect bird,

but we're all working on it.

That's the goal.

- I bet she's happy

to get out of that box.

- I know.

She's very happy.

- Really, mom?

- I can--

- really?

- I've been washing chickens

for five days straight.

I mean, every day.

It's so rewarding.

When you put all that time

and effort into something

and then you raise a bird

that makes it

all the way to champion row

and then potentially

a best in show,

I mean, what else could you

ask for in life?

That's perfect for me.

- When you come

to the Ohio nationals,

you expect

to just get your butt whupped.

- All the best breeders

are here.

They all bring their best birds.

Everybody brings

the best stuff.

- There's 10,000 birds here.

And there's people

from 40-plus states,

and they all do what I do,

and they're passionate about it

just like I am.

- Everyone comes with that goal

ultimately to win the show.

I mean, it's like

the westminster of the chickens.

- Patty has a mind

of her own.

She does whatever she wants,

whenever she wants.

- Oh, yeah, you're really happy.

- Stanley.

- Oh.

- Yeah.

- This is my all-time

favorite show,

Ohio nationals.

It's just huge.

And in order to--

- she got a little yucky.

- She laid an egg, and--

- uh-oh.

- I'm currently in a show

in Branson, Missouri,

called number one hits

of the '60s.

- You know make me want to

- shout

- kick my heels up and

- shout

- throw my hands up and...

I put my performance job

in jeopardy

to be here with the chickens,


Get her little beak

clean here.

- She just doodled

on the floor, there.

He just basically

wants to spend his whole life

messing with chickens.

- Look at the head too;

Look at that skull.

- Yeah.

- The best thing about this is,

i get to do it with this guy.

- Yeah.

- You know?

- That's a good thing, yeah.

- Or you could do

the two c*cks.

- Sure, let's do

the two c*cks.

Oh, boy.

You can tell

that some of these

still have old feathers.

- No way.

You've got to be kidding me.

He didn't like her

a bit.

Doesn't know what

the hell he's looking at.

Look at that back.

There's a flat back

and then a...

He doesn't know his ass

from a hole in the ground.

I know what my birds are,

and I know how good they are.

It's a very natural thing

for me to get quite...

Um, upset...

When a bird of mine doesn't do

as well as it should,

because I study

my "standard" constantly,

so I know

what the breeds require.

- Judging is not

an exact science.

The "standard of perfection"

is a guideline,

and it tells us,

for example,

a brahma should have

a moderately long back.

So how long is that?

Is that this long, this long?

- See how all those

that he picked had flat backs?

And mine go whoosh.

He needs to read his

australorp "standard" again.

- People ask me,

"do you eat them?"

And my usual answer,

"you got kids?"


"Do you eat them?"

'Cause these are my babies,

and you don't eat them.

- People think of a chicken,

they think of,

like, a white chicken,

pretty generic.

And they don't think

that it can be something

beautiful like this.

- This is actually

not nasal spray.

It's called vetrx,

and we put it on their combs

to make them redder.

- This is smooth and shine

polishing spray for hair.

Changes a farm chicken

to a show chicken.

- Needs a facial, doesn't he?

- You can't show her like that.

Gonna have to go

blow-dry her butt.

When you compete

at this level,

they're nitpicking everything.

It's the eye color,

it's the feather quality,

it's the wings, the feet,

the toes.

It's the whole package,

so everything counts.

- Shari is the mama hen.

I guess I was gonna say

mama bear,

but mama hen

is a better word for her.

- Do you have bacon

on your burger?

- I have five children,

my four dogs,

a llama named comet...

200 chickens,

oh, my gosh, and 40 bunnies.

It's a big family.

- She's really nice.

- My family comes first,

my children and my husband,

but my poultry is my life.

They listen to you.

They interact with you.

I mean, they really are

a lot like--

I hate to say a human,

but they are.

- They all have

their little quirks.

This one's a little ditzy.


- They recognize voices

and can tell who they don't like

and who they do like.

- And they recognize

other chickens too.

Some hold grudges

against other birds

and never forget how mean

another bird was.

And others are best friends.

- Not much of a crest

on him, though.

- He's looking

at that cockerel now.

- Wow.

- That's a nice bird.

- Nice crest.

Pretty good quills on that one.

- Yeah.

- Smells good.

This is the best silkie

of the day.

- He gave me four thumb.

- Well, that's not too bad.

- Congratulations, foley.

- Thank you very much.

I am over the moon.

- Oh, great, thanks.

- My black pullet was second

out of a class

of probably 40 birds.

I didn't come here to lose.

I came here to win,

just like the rest of us.

Hopefully next time,

it'll be a little bit better.

I'll be best of breed

and champion of show.

- How's the wings on her?

- She's actually

a little narrow-laced.

She could be, you know,

sharper and wider.

- But it--it's even.

- But look how even it is.

- Yeah.

- What makes me tick

is creating a bird

that nobody has.

This is the best silver-laced

wyandotte I've ever had.

This bird is the 5,494th

silver-laced wyandotte

that I've took

out of the Incubator

and put a wing band on.

And the light brahmas,

I'm up to 11,500.

I'm a hatch-oholic.

They call me that because

i hatch a lot of chicks.

Took me 15 generations

to get 5,494.

15 generations.

When I started

with silver-laced wyandottes,

they didn't even have tails.

They were bad.

The color was bad,

the heads were bad.

- The heads, I think

you've improved on the most.

- She needs a better head.

- Right in the front

of the comb here,

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