quick guide toPoultry Judging
Where to start
Form and function
What to look for
How judging works
Young Judging speech
Where to start
There are many types of poultry within the categories of hardfeather, softfeather and waterfowl. This can include fowl/chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys and their subsequent breeds, seperated into sizes: standard and bantam. It is important to learn about the different breeds as their breed standards and scale of points vary significantly. For example, the Wyandotte chicken is a softfeather, heavy, breed, with more emphasis on feather colour and markings and body shape (type), compared to the Australian Game chicken, a hardfeather breed which is judged on body symmetry, strength, size and condition, with no points allocated to feather colour.
TOP TIP: It is very important that you read up on the Australian Poultry Standards (2nd edition). Birds in each class should be the same breed and they should be judged to the specific breed characteristics, as set out in the Australian Poultry Standards.
An overview of poultry breeds in Australia can be found in the Australian Poultry Standards Edition 2.
What to look for
You will need to get to know the different parts of the animal and be able to name these correctly, as these will be the judging points. It is important to examine the bird standing in the pen and removed from the pen ‘in-hand’. It is important to understand the judging priorities for different types of poultry – handfeather, softfeather and waterfowl. It’s important to reflect on the bird’s type, the plumage (feathers), as well as looking at the legs and feet, checking again for colour and uniformity. When examining the head, consider the comb, the eye colour and beak colour.
TOP TIP: Practice handling poultry of all types. Remember to be gentle, hold the bird close to your body and support it from underneath. Practice handling birds of all sizes, both in and out of the pen. The judge will be looking for correct techniques for moving the birds in the pen, securing the bird for safe removal and return to the pen – plus how well you assess the bird in hand.
For a comprehensive visual guide to all the judging points: https://agshowsaustralia.org.au/member-resources/national-competitions-guidelines/
Young Judging speech
Competitors in the oral section are scored on their accuracy of observation, their ability to compare birds, speaking skills and their own presentation.
Have a start, middle and end: begin with an introduction (for example, I placed this Class and list the numbered placings), then go into the comparisons of pairs, and finish with a conclusion (thank people for listening). The speech only goes for two minutes, so keep to the point.
The main goal is to explain to the judge why you have placed the animals in the order you have chosen by comparing the animals in pairs – first place with second, second against third, and finally third against fourth. Rather than describing each animal individually, competitors draw comparisons against the attributes of each pair. For example, “In the top pair, I placed animal numbered [eg four] ahead of [eg one] because … [highlight the strengths before weaknesses, if any are present].” Remember to prioritise the most important reasons first and pick only two or three differences.
Judging is subjective, while there are characteristics about an animal to look for, what the judges will be paying close attention to is how clearly competitors express their decision and how they validate it.
It’s not all about the animals – a competitor’s appearance is also important and judges can mark down for poor presentation. Competitors must wear a dust coat and closed-in shoes. Long hair must be tied back, and only minimal jewellery is allowed. Male competitors must wear a tie. Chewing gum and shorts are definitely not permitted. Female competitors may consider wearing a tie or neck scarf or necklace.
- Speak clearly and concisely – show you believe in what you are saying and pack a punch with your words.
- Deliver your speech to the championship judge – remember eye contact.
- Don’t call the final animal “last”, as this can be insulting to the owner. Instead refer to it being fourth placed.
- Get to know the terminology and don’t be afraid to implement it – the judges will be looking out for it.
- Choose one end of the animal to begin speaking on and move to the other end, from front to rear or vice versa. This will help organise your presentation and make it easier for people to follow what you are saying.
- Be as descriptive and explanatory as possible. For example, use gender terms rather than “it” and go beyond saying one characteristic is “better” when comparing a pair by highlighting why the characteristic is superior.
For a comprehensive list of terminology check out www.agshowsaustralia.org.au/educational-resources/further-reading
This educational content has been developed as part of the Project: Education of Sustainable Agri-Food Production Program. This project is jointly funded through Agricultural Shows Australia and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program