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Southern District Health Board nurses Jo Wass and Carla Sanders, and midwife and lactation consultant Stefanie Kalmakoff catch up in the cage most days to discuss their poultry breeding activities.
And conversations have been even more intense in recent weeks because the trio are preparing to compete in the 2021 New Zealand Poultry, Pigeon and Cage Bird National Show in Dunedin on May 28-30.
"We meet for lunch and talk about our birds," Ms Kalmakoff said.
"We also swap birds — organise to share our roosters — for breeding purposes.
"We have to make it quite clear that we’re talking about our chooks, just in case people are listening."
She said it was surprising how many staff members had chickens, and it was relatively easy to strike up a conversation with somebody about them on any given day.
"I don’t know why so many of us are interested in chickens.
"I guess we like a healthy lifestyle and getting your own fresh eggs is always a bonus. We know where the food’s coming from."
Despite their competitiveness, there has been no squawking over who will be highest in the pecking order at the upcoming nationals.
"We’re very supportive of each other.
"We all have different breeds and we help each other out."
"It’s not about winning prizes. It’s about raising awareness of all the different breeds for the public and keeping some of these old breeds going.
"If there aren’t people out there breeding them, then they will just die out."
The trio’s birds will be among more than 2000 from across the country, vying for one of the 190 championship titles at the show, which will be held at Forrester Park Kennel Club.
It will be the first time Dunedin has hosted the national show, and some of the largest breeders of birds in the country will be there.
Aside from the competition, there will also be plenty of social events.
The three-day event will be open to the public, and for those who fall in love with any of the poultry, pigeons or cage birds, organisers plan to have an auction on the final day, where purebred birds and show birds can be bought.