By: Ian Simpson -Judging panel and Standards Director for the MGPS.
Judging is a vital link between the standards of excellence set for our great breed that reaches the show pen for competition.
Realistically Judges control the destiny of our activities. Judges, who are consistent, well performed and able to effectively translate the standard of excellence into the correct decisions in the show pen to ensure that all breeders and exhibitors strive to improve the standard of their birds.
Having decided to accept a judging appointment, the first thing to do is to study the show schedule.
1. Study the classes you are going to judge.
2. Make note of any special awards on offer (i.e. feature breeds).
3. Major awards for the whole show.
4. Note any special rules.
5. Note the time that judging starts and allow enough time to travel and arrive without rushing.
A well prepared judge should carry the following equipment.
1. The MGPS judging protective coat.
2. Pens or pencils to mark the pen number cards when awarding prizes.
3. Judging stick - I would recommend a fine stick that would not intimidate the bird when judging.
4. Clothes pegs - this is a method that I use when judging large classes. It helps you to identify the birds that you previously handled and liked.
ARRIVAL AT THE SHOW.
1. Arrive in plenty of time so you are relaxed before judging.
2. Always carry a copy of the standards with you.
3. Report to the show secretary and meet the other judges over a cup of coffee.
4. Once the show secretary knows you have arrived leave the pavilion and go to a neutral area like a lunch room.
COMMENCEMENT OF JUDGING.
1. Report to the show secretary again once penning time has expired or wait for his approach.
2. Meet with your stewards and introduce yourself. This will ensure a good working relationship with your steward/s. It is important to work as a team.
3. Find out the number of birds you have been engaged to judge so you can plan your timing. Generally speaking you will be sharper before lunch compared to after lunch.
4. If you are judging large amount of birds try to finish a big percentage of them before lunch. Most judges will agree that if the pens are double decked it becomes tiring after a certain period of time.
USING THE JUDGING STICK.
I would use the judging stick to balance the bird. Use the stick delicately and do not poke and prod the bird. Modern games are birds of "lift" and all their movements are in an upward direction. For this reason
The judging stick should be used to "lift" the bird and should never be used to push down the bird. A well-trained modern should reach if the judging stick is gently placed under the bird’s beak.
CATCHING THE BIRD FOR EXAMINATION.
This is the most vital part of judging. Exhibitors will not appreciate any broken feathers as the birds could be shown more than once. Approach the bird quietly and put your hands over the top of the bird clasping the wings firmly to the body of the bird. Once you have hold of the bird move your hand around the bird to rest your palm with the birds legs in between your fingers. Make sure the bird is relaxed before you examine it.
REMEMBER YOUR JOB IS NOT TO TRAIN THE EXHIBITORS BIRDS.
Remove the bird from the pen HEAD FIRST once it has settled. always ask the steward to hold the pen door if necessary.
THE DON’T’S OF CATCHING BIRDS.
1. Don't catch the bird by the legs.
2. Don't grab its feather especially the bird's tail.
3. Don't hesitate to show who the boss is. When you approach the pen.
4. Don't drag the bird by its legs.
Once you have examined the bird place it back into the pen gently HEAD FIRST and stand it up with your judging stick.
A good steward is a vital part of the team. a good steward will make your job a lot easier. When judging, always maintain your concentration and try to avoid getting into conversation with the exhibitors.
This is where a good steward will assist you in an attempt to avoid this form of interruption.
Avoid talking to a steward during the judging of a class but certainly talk to him between classes.
METHOD OF JUDGING A CLASS.
Walk along the class to be judged looking for a bird that grabs your attention. This bird should be active, conforms to standard, healthy and attracts your attention immediately.
When you walk up and down the class look for any obvious faults like wrong leg colour, wrong skin colour, duck heel, roach back or excessive feathering.
If you wish you can now use the peg system to identify from the outside of the pen the birds that take your eye.
ONCE YOU HAVE CAUGHT THE BIRD.
1. Check the legs and feet. Check its scales, leg colour, preparation, toes and spurs.
2. Feel the breast bone for straightness.
3. Check the vent for flees or red mite etc.
4. Check the wings for tightness or any faults like split wings.
5. Check the birds head for correct skin colour, eye colour, strength of head, tightness of skin and position of the eye.
6. Examine the bird’s tail gently.
Place the bird back into the pen gently and stand it up with your judging stick. Once again use your peg system to place your prize winners once you have examined the class and found the birds closest to the standards.
Remember the judging system is formulated around points given for certain features of the breed.
Remember to have an open mind and balance out the strengths and weaknesses of each fowl. The bird that balances out best overall must be your winner.
THE FADIST JUDGE.
Some Judges focus on a particular point of a breed and if the bird does not meet the judge's criteria for that point then the bird is discarded completely.
All Judges should have an open mind and judge in accordance to the weighing of the points system.
It can be very annoying for an exhibitor if the judge focuses on a particular point if insignificant and puts the bird down.
TALKING TO EXHIBITORS AFTER JUDGING.
The golden rule here is that in most situations the exhibitor is showing the best bird/s he has available. Please show respect to the exhibitor and speak to him about his fowls in a positive manner.
Remember he is only learning and has the right to ask you questions about his birds and their placing’s. You must be prepared to listen to his/her points of view, however, be firm with your reasons for making the awards.
Always refer back to the standards for your reasons.
If other Judges are engaged at the same show do not allow yourself to get into discussions regarding other judge's decisions. be supportive of each other’s' decisions.
MGPS Judging Panel and Standards Director: Ian Simpson
Phone: (03) 58211269.
The Modern Game Promotional Society 2009