I receive rather frequent emails from players even now asking how they can win the Animal Contests in HM DS or Cute DS as well as the question of how Large Eggs are produced.
Winning an Animal Contest in any Harvest Moon game is based on Heart Levels. Producing superior Ranch Products in Harvest Moon games usually is based on Heart Levels as well. Where there are options to play Touchscreen mini-games, you may be able to boost the quality or size of the product by obtaining a very high score in the game.
The key to success both in Harvest Moon and in Rune Factory where any kind of breeding option exists is to raise the quality of your Ranch Animals through breeding. This strategy becomes critical where Animals, especially poultry have defined life expectancy.
In many games, you can obtain the highest quality of product without ever winning an Animal Contest, as long as the Animal attains maximum Heart Level. In other games, such as Friends of Mineral Town/More Friends of Mineral Town, the very highest quality of Product in the form of Gold Product or X Product cannot be obtained unless the Animal in question has won a Contest. (In FoMT and MFoMT, a certain number of hours spent outside is required as well to obtain some special products. You had 1 chance in 255 of obtaining an X Product from any Animal who ordinarily yielded Golden Product.)
In Sunshine Islands, the highest Rank of Product, which is S Rank, cannot be obtained ordinarily unless the Animal has won 1st Prize at a Festival. The exception to this is the Milking/Shearing Touchscreen Game, where even an Animal who would not yield S Rank product otherwise can do so if you obtain a high score.
As there is no egg-producing Touchscreen game in Sunshine Islands, the sole method of obtaining S Rank Eggs is by winning 1st Prize at the Chicken Festival.
No matter how religiously you play the petting game in HM DS/Cute DS, you may find that your Chickens die before you ever win the Chicken Festival or obtain a Large Egg.
The rather short life expectancy of Poultry makes an aggressive breeding strategy more important than it might be with respect to Livestock. If, however, you wish to obtain the best grade of product as early as possible in almost any Harvest Moon game and in Rune Factory games where breeding is an option, you need to breed your Animals.
The general rule in Harvest Moon is that no Animal born on your Farm/Ranch will have a Heart Level lower than 2 Hearts at the time of his/her birth. Any Animal purchased from a local merchant, on the other hand, always will have a Heart Level of zero.
In Sunshine Islands as in many other games, the Heart Level of the Animal who is born on your Ranch will equal half of the heart level of the parent. The rule that no Animal will be born with less than 2 Hearts makes it possible to begin to breed your purchased Animals even before they have gained any Hearts themselves and still obtain better Animals through breeding. Breeding livestock usually is a much slower process than incubating Eggs. The fact that there usually are Ranch Tools, such as Brushes and/or Petting Gloves that can raise any Livestock Animals heart levels means that there is less need to begin breeding Livestock before they have attained fairly high heart levels. A longer life expectancy for Livestock as well as the fact that no Ranch products are produced by Livestock during the course of pregnancy are factors as well in determining when to breed a Cow or Sheep. (In Rune Factory Frontier, any Monster who 'trusts' you, can produce an Egg instantly so there is no need to delay breeding. 'Trust' is translated to 2 Hearts I believe.)
As soon as you can afford to buy an Incubator in any Harvest Moon game, you probably should invest in one. In FoMT and MFoMT, players often made a fairly decent little early income by incubating eggs and selling the Chickens they raised to Popuri. I always was too sentimental to pursue that strategy...
In HM DS/Cute DS, possibly the ONLY way to obtain Large Eggs is by incubating Eggs progressively to raise Chickens of a high enough Heart Level to win the Chicken Contest before they die of old age.
I have covered the topic of choice of Entries in the various Animal Contests in Sunshine Islands in my General Guide as well as strategies for maximising your profits in terms of Ranch Products. In Sunshine Islands (as well as IoH), you can enter the same Animal each year to win progressively superior 'Crowns' and Titles. THE ONLY VALUE OF DOING SO IS THE PRICE THAT MIRABELLE WILL PAY FOR THE ANIMAL. As the actual value of the Ranch Product produced by a different Animal who won the basic Copper Crown would exceed the profit made by selling a Cow/Sheep with anything higher than a Copper Crown very quickly, the best strategy in financial terms is to enter a different Animal every year and win the Copper Crown that will allow the Animal to produce S Product regularly.
Where Pets are concerned, you never have a choice of entries but with Poultry and Livestock, it is best to enter a different Animal each year. Incidentally, Heart Level is all that matters where the chance of winning 1st Prize is concerned. A Silkie Hen at 10 Hearts has no better chance of taking home a Copper Crown than a regular Chicken. The difference between the two is in the value of the product produced and it is Jersey Milk and Suffolk Wool, when converted into Superb Cheese and Superb Yarn that yield the largest profits. Superb Mayonnaise is more valuable than regular Mayonnaise, but shipping it will not make you rich.
As previously indicated, it is possible to obtain S Milk and S Wool in the course of the Touchscreen Milking/Shearing games even when the Animal in question has not won First Place at a Contest. You therefore can unlock the Jersey Cow and Suffolk Sheep simply by shipping 1 S Milk and 1 S Wool obtained in these mini-games before you would be able to enter a Cow/Sheep with 10 Hearts in the appropriate Contest.
You can obtain a Silkie Egg from Mirabelle as a birthday gift in the second year if she is at 7 Hearts or higher. You then can incubate it and hatch a Silkie Chick. The ordinary method of unlocking the Silkie Hen is by shipping 1 S Rank Egg.
The only ways of raising a Chicken's Heart Level are:
1. Feed it daily;
2. Hold/Hug it daily;
3. Take it outside in fine weather and do not allow it to be threatened by the Wild Dog;
4. Play the Petting Touchscreen game when it occurs.
5. Enter the Animal in the appropriate Contest and ATTEND the Festival.
Here are the values for each action:
Eats Meal: +1 Friendship, 0 Stress
Hold or Pet/Speak to Animal: +1 Friendship, 0 Stress
Touchscreen Petting Game: +0 to +20 Friendship, -0 to -20 Stress*
*The actual value depends on your success in the Petting game. There are three separate stages for success. In the first, the animal shuts its eyes. In the second, he/she blushes. In the third and final stage, the animal’s eyes are tightly shut, indicating a state of utter bliss. When the game is completed, the animal should be surrounded completely by hearts for maximum success.
Use Brush: +3 Friendship, -5 Stress
Use Milker: +1 Friendship, 0 Stress
Use Shears/Clippers: +1 Friendship, 0 Stress
Enter Animal in Festival contest: +30 Friendship, 0 Stress
Outside on Sunny/Hot Day: +0.2 Friendship per hour, -2 Stress per hour
Outside on Cloudy Day: +0.1 Friendship per hour, -1 Stress per hour
Unable to Eat: -5 Friendship, +20 Stress
Do not Hold or Pet/Speak to Animal for 2 Days: -2 Friendship per day, +2 Stress per day
Strike with Farm Tool: -10 Friendship, +10 Stress
In presence of Wild Dog: -2 Friendship, +10 Stress
Neglect to attend Festival when Animal is an Entry: -20 Friendship, +50 Stress
Outside in bad weather, in Drizzle, Rain or Snow: -2 Friendship after 4 Hours, -1 Friendship for each additional hour, +1 Stress per hour
Outside in Typhoon or Blizzard: -10 Friendship, +30 Stress
The natural life expectancy for a Chicken or Silkie Chicken is 4 years. A Cow and Jersey Cow each have a life expectancy of 6 years and a Sheep and Suffolk Sheep have a life expectancy of 5 years.
As you can see, the speed at which you can raise a Chicken's Heart Level will depend somewhat on chance in terms of the weather and the occurrence of the Petting Game.
How long does it take to raise a Chicken to 10 Hearts? Here are some examples from Freya's Ranch that demonstrate the significant difference between a Chicken hatched on your Ranch and one purchased from Mirabelle:
Glimr, purchased from Mirabelle at 0 Hearts on 6 Winter of the previous year and taken outside only sporadically, had attained only 4 Hearts almost a year later at the end of Autumn.
Adoro, hatched from a Chicken who had 10 Hearts but had never won the Chicken Festival*, born on 15 Winter and taken outside every day in fine weather, had attained 9 Hearts at the end of Autumn.
*The Egg of such a Chicken would be Rank A, Quality 10, Size 5, Freshness 10. This would be the Rank and Quality of Milk and Wool produced by Cows and Sheep at 10 Hearts if they never had won 1st Prize at a Festival.
Aliya, hatched from an S Rank Egg (from a Chicken who had won a Copper Crown), born on 18 Summer and taken outside every day in fine weather, had attained 7 Hearts by the end of Autumn of the same year.
Examples of Silkie Hens at low Heart Level are:
Onyx, purchased from Mirabelle at 0 Hearts on 9 Summer, on the last day of Autumn of the same year finally had attained 3 Hearts.
Kalila, hatched from Onyx's Egg and thus born with the minimum 2 Hearts on 3 Fall, had attained 3 Hearts by the end of the same Autumn.
As you can see, the advantages of incubating an Egg even from a Chicken with low Heart Level, are significant.
The prices that Mirabelle would pay for Animals depend not only on Heart Level and any Crowns they have won but also the length of time that you have kept the Animal and whether or not the Animal was born on your own Ranch.
Here are some examples:
For a Chicken with a Bronze Crown, Sparkl: 7000G
For a Chicken with 10 Hearts and no Crown, born 2 years, 1 month ago : 5360G
For a Chicken with 10 Hearts and no Crown, born 2 years ago: 5235G
For a Chicken with 9 Hearts and no Crown born almost 2 years ago: 4640G
For Glimr, the Chicken with 4 Hearts, born almost 1 year ago: 2105G
For a Chicken with 10 Hearts but no Crown, born a little less than a year ago FROM AN INCUBATED EGG: 5240G
For Aliya, the Chicken with 7 Hearts, incubated from an S Rank Egg, only 1 Season previously: 3900G
For Onyx, the Silkie Hen now at 3 Hearts purchased from Mirabelle a season and a half ago: 2005G
For Kalila, the Silkie Hen now at 3 Hearts, incubated from Onyx's Egg less than a season ago: 2285G
If Freya had sold some of these Chickens to Mirabelle one season prior to this:
Glimr: 3 Hearts: 1650G
Adoro, 8 Hearts: 4250G
Silkie Onyx at 1 Heart: 1350G
Silkie Darks at 1 Heart: 1380G
The real moral of this tale is that it is a good idea to order an Incubator from Gannon at the earliest opportunity and begin to incubate the Eggs that your first Chicken hatches and continue to incubate the Egg from each succeeding generation to raise Heart Levels at birth progressively.