What is a Poultry Judge and who wants to be one? At shows, it would be fair to say the greatest topic of conversation and controversy arises from the placing of the awards. Criticism of the judge has always been part of the Fancy. In past years this quite often became heated and even abusive, friendships became strained and this aspect of the Fancy inhibited many of our more respected breeders from judging. There is no doubt that a thick skin is a great help to a judge and nowhere is this required more than in the judging of Club Shows, when one is usually judging the birds of long-standing friends. Because of this they feel that they can express themselves more freely and we all have to learn to take this in our stride.
Is the job of the judge just to find the best bird, is it the ability to place the cards to the satisfaction of all, thereby convincing the exhibitor that you know what you are doing, or is it the ability to make as few mistakes as possible? In reality it is much more than all of these. The ‘best bird’ can never be found and one seldom places the cards to please everyone.
Time is the judge’s greatest enemy, it is often the influence that the show manager can impose on a judge. We have all had the other white coat in the room sidle up and softly say, ‘We are getting a bit behind, can you speed up’, or ‘Could I give your selling, juvenile, and AOV classes to Mr.X?’. If this happens to you often, you ought to ask yourself why, before the judging engagements dry up.
What are the qualities a judge requires? How about knowledge, honesty, integrity, ability, understanding and confidence? Knowledge the exhibitors expect, honesty/integrity ought to be the same but sometimes are not, ability is soon decided by one’s peers and understanding applies to people as well as conditions and birds. Confidence is the most important asset - you may possess all the others but without this you should not go far. I might add a little humility to admit one’s mistakes and soothe others’ fevered brows. Humility prevents one from becoming pompous. Getting all these qualities together on one day is something you should never have to think about, no matter which judges panel you are, or wish to be, on. While judging is a serious business, it is also great fun, and we should always be happy in our task.
All judges should make sure that they are up to date with the latest or newest Standards - workshops are regularly held to this effect - the exhibitors have the right to expect judges to keep up to date.
Finally, the most important function of the judge is to see that the Standards are maintained. Standards are drawn up by the Breed Clubs, the Poultry Club administers them and the judge enforces them. It is a responsibility we have to accept and have done for hundreds of years. The Fancy is in good heart due to the ability of its members to choose wisely and it reflects great credit on them.