Love of birds spurs success, career path for Cool's "Chicken Girl"

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The cartoon chicken sticker on the back of Courtney Moody’s SUV is a strong clue. But the license plate is a dead giveaway. The lettering spells out “CHKN GRL” and sums Moody’s love – some would say borderline obsession – with the world of owning, raising and showing poultry. A Sierra College student aiming for a veterinary science degree, Moody raises 100 chickens on her family’s property in rural Cool. Some of the old English bantams and modern game bantams she raises and trains have won big – most notably a Junior Best of Show over 1,100 other birds at the Pacific Poultry Breeders Association competition two years ago in Stockton. At 19, Moody is moving up into the open ranks while also spending more time judging junior competitions. She has also started her own Web site to promote showing chickens. And, with her future moving toward an avian veterinary medicine degree, she is working as an intern in the veterinary offices of Auburn’s Dr. Daniel Rice. “I plan to work on the animals that no one else cares for – the chickens and the livestock,” Moody said. On her own, Moody already vaccinates newborn chicks and removes chicken combs, earlobes and waddles for showing. Parts of the Moody’s yard have now been dedicated to Courtney’s chicken coops, where birds with names like Kung Pao (another bird has been named Extra Crispy) and Helmet the Chauvinist (because he targets women’s feet for pecking) crow and cluck under Courtney’s care. That love of animals started early. Courtney’s father, Larry, recalls that even as a child, his daughter’s Barbie house would be filled with dinosaurs. Courtney remembered that her Barbies would actually end up as imaginary food for the dinosaurs. About a decade ago, Courtney began to raise chicks after receiving three as a gift from a grandmother. “It’s her world now,” Larry Moody said. As a high-school student at Placer High, everyone knew her as “chicken girl,” recalled her mother, Anne. “It was the one way people knew me,” Courtney said. “They’d cluck and sometimes, I’d cluck back.” The awards for her show chickens added up. Another award came in 2007 when one of her chickens bested 800 others at Victorville’s Pacific Coast Bantam Club for the junior title. She has also raised meat birds for her Future Farmers of America project. Ann said she’s watched as her daughter has worked hard to make her birds champions, sometimes laboring with 10 chickens in a shower to get them washed and show-ready for competition in another city on a weekend. They’ve traveled as far north as Washington state and as far south as Victorville for shows. “I’m most proud of her for the incredible example she sets for girls who are younger,” Anne said. “I have had numerous parents come up to me and tell me they wish we lived next door to them so that their young daughter could see Courtney on a regular basis and the example that she sets.” -------------------------- Fast Facts: “Chicken Girl” Courtney Moody Favorite TV show: “Lost” Chicken art: She’s made chickens out of beads and also likes to draw and paint the birds Favorite Movie: “The Dark Knight,” a movie about a superhero whose costume is based on a mammal that flies. She named one of her chickens The Dark Knight Favorite music: The older rock of 93.7 JACK FM Favorite cartoon chicken: Chicken in the Cartoon Network’s 1990s show “Cow and Chicken” Philosophy: “Take one day at a time”