Junior Certificate In Poultry Husbandry

The original proficiency exam test was devised circa 1984 by Malcolm Thompson and was designed for juniors to study and take the exam as part of an organisation i.e. The Poultry Club or an agricultural association and to run along side the GCSE Rural studies in schools. The test has recently undergone a review and some modifications have been made to reflect the modern principles behind the new wave of poultry keeping.

Young people these days are so much more aware of the problems facing the environment and the ideals of self sufficiency and healthy eating than perhaps they were 25 years ago; it is therefore not surprising that backyard poultry keeping has become a very popular hobby for all ages as a result. Though the reasons for keeping poultry may have changed, as a rule poultry keeping itself has changed little in that time and the same husbandry skills are needed to keep a chicken fit and healthy now as they were a quarter of a century ago.

The syllabus covers every aspect of poultry keeping. Ideally the course should still be completed as part of a group or organisation, check with your local poultry club, agricultural association or Scout Group, they may be willing to put on courses if they do not already. Schools may also run the poultry husbandry course in conjunction with the environmental and land based studies.

Below are details of the syllabus and a sample of the questions. The exam is aimed at secondary school pupils, i.e. 12 – 16. Candidates should have some hands-on experience during the coursework and this will count towards the final score of 80 points.

The test is split into 3 parts, the first being 20 multiple-choice questions, (20 marks). The second part is made up of short answer questions (20). The final set of points is made up of work produced during the course and the practical handling. (20 coursework & 20 Poultry handling). The written parts of the test should take 45 minutes.

Applications should be made to the Secretary; the Poultry Club will then liaise with those who will be responsible for running the courses and overseeing the examination. The exam papers are returned to the Poultry Club for final marking.

All successful candidates will receive a certificate of ‘Junior Poultry Proficiency’ and a badge.

The syllabus is to include

Breeds – knowledge of common pure breeds and hybrids, Bantams, classifications.
Housing – requirements, types, situation, different systems available
Feeding – feed types, digestion, equipment, supplements
Health – knowledge of common diseases, mites and lice etc, the moult, internal parasites
Welfare –The five freedoms – protection from predators, routines, transporting
Behaviour – pecking order, feather pecking & other vices, understanding normal behaviour, cockerels
Hygiene – Biosecurity, general principles of good husbandry
Simple anatomy – points of a chicken, feather types.
Breeding and rearing young – artificial and natural brooding, fertility, candling eggs, selecting breeding stock
Eggs – structure of the egg, nutritional values, best laying breeds
Poultry legislation – DEFRA registration, selling eggs, travel certificate. Cockerel noise
Exhibitions – preparing birds, basic show rules
Choosing and buying – best breed for purpose, where to buy, what to look for and avoid
The Poultry Club – its role, history, Ringing Scheme. The National Show
Ducks and geese – breeds, health, rearing. Feeding
Turkeys – breeds, health, rearing, feeding.
Meat Production – general principles, slaughter, plucking and processing.

For reference

The Poultry Club Factsheets and the Poultry Club website.

Teach Yourself Series: “Raise Happy Chickens and other poultry” by Victoria Roberts.

Other information can be found on the DEFRA website.

Practical /Coursework

(completed as part of the course, to be submitted with test papers)

  1. Coursework (20)
    Students will be required to show that they have a basic understanding (by drawing or describing) two of the following.

    A. the digestive system
    B. the reproductive system
    C. the respiratory system
    D. the internal structure of an egg
  2. Students will be required to demonstrate confidence in catching, handling and examining a live bird, they should be able to name the most common pure breeds and describe the merits of a least one. (20)

Sample questions

Section A,  multiple choice, 20 questions, 20 points

A chicken sold as ‘point of lay is

a. A hen that has laid its first egg
b. A hen that is 18 weeks old
c. A hen that has not laid an egg.
d. A hen that is over 1 year old.


Which of these breeds is a true bantam?

a. Old English Gam
b. Ancona
c. Dorking
d. Pekin

Section B, Short answer questions, points 20

For example;

Describe 5 positive signs of health in chickens 


Name 3 pests or predators of poultry and how you might control them.

Section C

Coursework points 20
Handling points 20