Court’s In Session, How To Become A Licensed Poultry Judge

Poultry Judging

Court’s In Session, How To Become A Licensed Poultry Judge

By Kenny Coogan, Florida

To become an APA-licensed poultry judge, you will need to have been   member of APA for three consecutive years, ideally raising poultry during that time. Although not a requirement, the Judges Licensing Committee likes to see diversity in an applicant’s flock. Being familiar with not only standard and bantam breeds but also turkeys, waterfowl and guineafowl will aid in your learning process. The more experience you have, the easier it will be for you. Applicants must be 21 years or older.

In addition to completing an application, which you will have received from the APA secretary, you will submit a $225 application fee. Once APA officials receive your application, you will then receive the necessary information including eight clerking assignment sheets that need to be filled out by Licensed Judges over the next two years.

At the end of your two years, the committee will arrange for you to take an open book test, which usually takes between seven and eight hours of research to complete. Once you successfully complete that test with a score of 95 percent or higher, the committee and you will set up a written and show room test. Applicants must earn an 80 percent or higher on the written test and a 90 percent or higher for the show room test.

“Judging poultry is a wonderful hobby and provides exhibitors with an assessment of their entries,” Paul Kroll said. Kroll, an APA and ABA General Licensed Judge since 1976, currently breeds and exhibits Japanese bantams. “I have bred and exhibited many breeds and varieties of chickens — large fowl and bantams — over the years.” He raises Japanese bantams in the following varieties: black, black-tailed white, gray, mottled, silver duckwing and white.

Poultry Judge

Poultry Judge

“There are well over a hundred judges, but few are truly active,” Kroll says. He has lost count of how many shows he has judged and has traveled all over the USA and Canada. “I exhibit at two to four shows a year, but judge many more than that.”

“I particularly enjoy judging the showmanship and working with youngsters,” Kroll says. “I find the most difficult part of being a judge is to have to tell exhibitors that their birds are not worthy of a prize, if that is the case,” he adds. Kroll says that it is not difficult to bear that information, if one is honest and open, but it is difficult to have to bring the exhibitor, no matter the age, to the reality of it all.

Each bird is judged against their ideal specimen, which can be found in the book American Standard of Perfection, created by APA, or the Bantam Standard, by the ABA. The bird’s size, weight, feather quality, alertness, legs, tail angle and more are all assigned certain points.

To add to the complication, birds are judged based on sex and age first. Cocks, hens, cockerels and pullets are judged separately.

The birds with the most points in their breed are then judged against other breeds and then other species of poultry to assess the overall winner of the show. Be forewarned, however, for when these birds waddle and strut into their showmanship positions, they may cause you to become addicted to their personalities.

Growing up I would study poultry catalogs for hours. Some children study baseball cards or memorize dinosaur facts— I studied poultry. I first introduced myself to all the breeds and then I started learning the standards. If only I would have kept up with it all.

“Nobody knows it all,” Kroll explained to me. “The APA Standard of Perfection and the ABA Bantam Standard are constantly being revised.” As judges, he said, they need to keep up with those revisions and additions. “Many times I will see something in a class, which rouses my curiosity and causes me to go to the Standard to look up what is or is not correct and acceptable,” he added.

“The Standard must always be your guide and I do use it frequently,” Sallee said. “Some of the breeds I raised years ago get a little foggy in the memory bank. The Standard is a very deep source of reference when you have memory lapses.” “I always have a Standard with me in the show hall or at the secretary’s desk,” Kroll said. So once you get your license, don’t be afraid to use that wonderful tool and reference when talking with exhibitors, as well.

If you have a fascination with quality and the personal confidence required to choose the best birds, then you could be a licensed poultry judge.

Poultry Judge

Poultry Judge

JUDGING YOUR OWN POULTRY

Don’t suffer from “coop blindness.” Follow these tips from the judges to better prepare you to become a judge and a better exhibitor. It is easy to think you have the best or the worst when you only see your birds at home.

1. Give your birds a chance; show them! See how they compare with others in the same variety or breed.

2. Never leave a show without having learned something from a fellow exhibitor.

3. Discuss your birds and those of others with professionals

4. Judge the birds not the people.

5. Find better quality birds to study, either at a show or at another exhibitor’s house.

6. Select breeders and show birds through research and veteran exhibitors recommendations.

Poultry Judge

Poultry Judge

Poultry Judge

Poultry Judge

Poultry Judge

Kenny Coogan, CPBT-KA, holds a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior and is a certified professional bird trainer through the International Avian Trainers Certification Board. He is a pet and garden columnist, magazine contributor and has authored a children’s book titled A Tenrec Named Trey (And other odd-lettered animals that like to play). Please search “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook to learn more.

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