It was a quietly spoken gentle man that I spoke to that day , a man with a passion. The years, the memories still there as fresh as the day they'd just happened. I loved going to Rosewood and the quiet spot we chose bought back a lot of memories for both of us. I still have a photo from my pony club days of me tripling, up on old patchie in the same spot, and he was comfortable layed back in the sun with Doss just within earshot.
It was at the Rosewood feature show in July 2009 that I had the pleasure of interviewing the legendry poultryman Mister Clive Claus. I'll call it an interview because I had gone there armed with a pen, a notepad and a camera specifically to write an article on one of my favourite breeders, but it was more like a yarn with an old mate. We both sat in the sun in front of the old canteen and reminisced about the good old days.
Clive Claus was born in 1927 in Haigslea in Queensland and his grandfather owned the Haigslea Store . But during the Depression things got tough and his grandfather and father had to close the store and work on the farm. In true Aussie battler style they worked the land and went on to help Clive become one of the greatest poultrymen this country will ever see.
Clive was born to breed poultry and from the day he came into the world he was surrounded by his birds. In those days horses were the only means of transport for a young bloke so his natural affinity with animals began. There were all sorts of animals on the Claus farm from way back in his Grandfathers day and poultry played a big part in their life. Poultry, waterfowl pigeons, caged birds, you name it they had it. As a child he made up his mind he wanted to breed poultry, purebred poultry, so his grandfather gave him his first Muscovies. His love of muscovies has never died and as I strained my eyes through the fog as we slowed to go past the Claus farm that morning, always the highlight of my trip, I spotted Clives Muscovies wandering around the yard .His waterfowl are a sight to behold and the progeny of his Indian runners, Call ducks and Muscovies he's still breeding today are winning shows all over the country .
Clive managed to buy a Sussex cockerel from Edgar Ortell for five pound. He found some good Sussex pullets locally and his breeding career had begun. Over the years he went on to breed some of the best Sussex the country will ever see. One pullet he showed at Toowoomba was said to be the best Sussex pullet that judge Peter Smith had ever seen. He reckoned the only fault she had was the fact he wasn't his .From there it just escalated - Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Leghorns, Pekins, Old English Game and the list goes on. When I asked Clive what breeds he'd had over the years he just smiled and said .... All of them .
Clive met the love of his life, Doss, she was the sister of his mate Les Blake's wife another local Poultry breeder and she stuck beside him all the way. Les Blake owned 'Sunnybill Poultry Stud' where Clive spent a lot of his time and he had every breed you could name. It was Les that got Clive interested in showing .
Clive didn't show poultry until the late forties but when he did he certainly made an impact. He started showing at Rosewood and in those days the top breeders all showed there, Athol Giles, Athol Pengilly and his mate Les Blake to name a few. He got very good very fast and with mentors like these he learnt to breed and exhibit exceptional quality fowl. He took out Champion at Rosewood time and time again, at Ipswich and at Toowoomba the Claus birds were always up there with the best of them and usually out the front. He went on to the Royals where the teams got bigger and the quality got better and was still taking out the champion awards. Clive has shown at the Brisbane Royal for over fifty years, in fact last year Dempsey Bailey, Ron Lait and Clive Claus were all presented awards for being the oldest exhibitors ever .
Thirty years ago they had a display at the Royal Brisbane especially for Clives Pekins and they came from everywhere. Now Clive bred pekins, but he didn't just breed pekins, he was leading the way, creating colours in pekins never seen before. Blue reds, birchens,brown reds, columbians and mealy grey and they flocked to brisbane to see them. Every Pekin breeder for miles around was there to see his colours. I could safely say their wouldn't be too many Pekins today that didn't have a bit of Clives blood in them somewhere down the line .
I asked Clive if there was anyone in particular that he could give credit to for his great breeding capabilities and his continued success other than himself and Doss. Well in those days their were a lot of great breeders and of course Clives brother in-law was the great Les Blake ,but their was this one bloke .....
Now Clive Loves Orpingtons, he had Orpingtons in black,blue and buff and Athol Pengilly had a mate, his name was 'Arthur Harwood' he was a breed manager from England and had been employed to look after the famous 'Cooks Orpingtons' back in his homeland. He'd landed a job in Brisbane as a breed manager on one of these big poultry farms. Athol introduced him to Clive and they hit it off right away. "What that man didn't know about breeding good poultry wasn't worth knowing, I reckon I owe a lot of what I've learned to that man, He knew a Lot about Poultry " he said .
Of course there were a lot of other great breeders along the way and Clive new them all. He hasn't missed a show at Rosewood for thirty years and he's still going strong. Why just last year he got champion light large softfeather with a White Leghorn cockerel and champion heavy large softfeather with a black Orpington hen. He has taken home the Champion award time and time again. He has judged all over Australia for over fifty years, from Darwin to Rocky, from Atherton to Cairns .The Royal Adelaide three times, The Royal Brisbane Sydney and Melbourne countless times and all along the way always for the breed always happy to help out wherever he could . From Muscovies to Sussex From Caged birds to Pigeons he bred them all to perfection and as the Gentle man and I sat in the sun and yarned about Poultry , It was a pleasure to see a man that was so happy .
I have written this for all poultry enthusiasts Especially for our APF online Gazette ,dont forget to check out the Gazette at http://australianpoultry.net/APF%20Onli
... index.html and if you have anything you'd like to add send it off to admin we'd all love to hear your yarns ,Seeya