Breed Clubs and Societies should make an effort to train and encourage younger fanciers to become judges. To apply to get on the Judges Panel, all that is necessary is to contact the Poultry Club Secretary who will give details.
The first requirement for aspiring judges is to obtain a copy of the British Poultry Standards book (link to purchase form). Aspiring judges should study and become conversant with as many different breed Standards as possible, although it is not essential to be word perfect in quoting them. Much more important is to understand fully the meaning of the words, than just the words themselves. Younger fanciers will undoubtedly find this part easier than will the more mature, as the older one grows the more difficult it becomes to assimilate large masses of fact. This doesn’t mean the older person need despair of ever becoming a judge, as practical experience can be of inestimable value when assessing the merits of exhibits - the good judge carries the perfect bird in his or her mind’s eye.
A first class way to gain invaluable experience is to act as a steward for judges as often as possible. Not every judge likes to give a running commentary on their task as they carry it out, but the majority are willing to help and will quite often treat their steward as a junior partner. The thing to do is wait for the judge to set the pace, as it is well to remember that they are engaged in an exacting task.
Another way of learning about the various breeds is the obvious one of keeping them. The experience gained by such a method greatly exceeds any other if only because one becomes accepted into the ‘magic circle’ more easily when there is a common bond of interest.
Returning to the concept of the ‘minds eye’, there is no better way of developing this faculty than by studying the winning birds at shows up and down the country. No matter how keen you are on your own breed, widen your interest and experience by chatting to fanciers and judges of others. Find out why the one with the red card won it and the second didn’t, and for what reason the apparently good one never got in the first three.
One final bit of advice. When you are at last asked to judge don’t go all modest and turn the chance down. The fact that you have been asked is an indication that someone thinks you are capable of doing the job. Grab the chance and have a go. Take your time, work methodically, and you’ll be all right.