Between Judges: A Reflection

This is the third article in a series of four by Pat Malone, being republished from the 1989 APA Yearbook. This part focuses on tips for licensed poultry judges.

1. Maintain Absolute Honesty and Integrity

Avoid anything and everything that is questionable. Give absolutely no appearance of being involved in cronyism, politics, etc. Criticism comes with the territory of being a judge, but let’s not invite it.

2. Avoid Becoming Defensive When People Criticize Your Work

The key word here is LISTEN. We want people to talk to us, not about us behind our backs. So we are going to have to listen, honestly and fairly. Instead of becoming defensive or angry simply say, “I don’t know if I agree with your or not, but I am going to think about what you have said. Thank you for sharing your opinion with me.”

3. Be a Growing Judge, Not A Know It All

This is a pledge I have made to myself. It means I continue to study and learn. It means that I talk to knowledgeable exhibitors every chance I get, instead of waiting for them to come to me with questions. I go to them and ask for their input regarding how I placed a class. Not only have I gained valuable knowledge from this approach, but many new friends as well!

4. Pay Special Attention to the Young and to New Breeders/Exhibitors

They are our future. They are hungry and appreciative of information and help. Some judges feel put down when asked to do a junior show, to me it is an honor because it is an investment in the future of our hobby.

5. On Champion Row Our Task is to Choose the Best Bird(s)

I feel no compulsion at all to push the birds that I have judged for grand champion and reserve champion. Who judged what is irrelevant. We must guard against pushing for the birds we judged instead of choosing the very best two birds, grand champion and reserve champion.


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6. Treat All Birds the Same

They deserve it. Every exhibitor pays the same entry fee. The time when you choose not to look closely at an obviously inferior bird or to make some derogatory comment about a bird, is the very time when that owner/exhibitor is watching and listening intently.

7. Develop Your People Skills

Be courteous, respectful, patient, and kind in dealing with people. My goal is to be loved and respected all across our great nation like my friend and mentor, Dave Sherrill, Jr.

8. Avoid Criticizing Another Judge or Trying to Re-Judge His Class of Birds

You know from your own experience that you don’t know a lot of the variables of what he saw when he judged the class. Talk to them, but not about them behind their back. Send exhibitors directly to them rather than trying to second guess their decisions. We have our own APA judges section newsletter “The Judges Stick” and other legitimate means to express criticism. The show room and other exhibitors are not the proper forum.

9. Try to Judge Ten to Twelve Shows or More Each Year

Certainly, I realize this depends on invitations received. But judging poultry is a skill, and the only way a skill can be developed is through practice. It is the old principle of use it or lose it.

10. Work on the Weak Link in Your Chain

“I don’t know much about Belgian Bearded d’Uccles so I would rather not judge them,” I heard a judge say. I appreciate their concern, but in one sense it is a cop-out. I know where I am weak and those are the areas where I am endeavoring to grow. Each one of us needs to concentrate on the weak links in their chain.

By: Pat Malone, APA and ABA Licensed Poultry Judge (Reprinted from 1989 APA Yearbook)