Judging     Return to Standards
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Judging Leghorns
The most successful exhibitors are assisted in being consistent winners under various judges not only by the all round superiority of their stock, but also by knowing the preferences of each judge in respect of the variety being exhibited. Every judge has (or should have) a thorough knowledge of the approved standard for the breed he is to adjudicate upon, yet there will always be some variation in the placings by different judges on the same exhibits. This gives the interest and uncertainty to showing and is due not only to difference in the interpretation of the written standard by judges but there are individual preferences for a certain class of bird in each breed. This is often influenced by the birds a judge keeps in his own yard - he selects birds for the breed points and type preferred and accordingly looks for similar qualities when judging. This article is not written to describe the ideal male and female, but rather to mention some points which are specially pleasing to me when judging Leghorns.

I readily admit that I have my own preferences in most breeds and I do value, most highly, superior quality in points that as a breeder I have found difficult to produce consistently in the variety being judged.

With Leghorns, especially males, I am immediately attracted by a bird that is active and stylish in the show pen. There is a certain style, character or temperament that a Leghorn male must possess and I have little interest in a bird that does not display it. Some males are close to standard requirements in head points, body shape and feathering yet they are dull and lazy in the pen, lacking style. In my interpretation of the Standard, that shows a lack of true Leghorn breed character. Often this inactivity is due to the bird being troubled by overdone headgear, usually caused by close penning for too long or incorrect feeding. A firm well serrated comb, free of wrinkles or thumb marks in front and with a well finished blade carried just clear of the neck cannot be regularly produced by careless selection of the breeding stock. Really good combs and lobes are a sign of a sound breeding line and a male that has proved his pre-potency to produce high quality head-points is a great asset to any breeder. I often admired the neat head-points of males exhibited by C.A. Clark and Son and Mr Harry Clark told me shortly before he passed on that their breeding stock was selected to produce show cockerels, yet they were able to win with pullets also. The style a bird displays in a show pen is influenced by its natural temperament which is an hereditary characteristic. A sour tempered bird should never be used for breeding. Abundance of furnishings and width of tail coverts and sickles adds a certain quality to a Leghorn male and indicates good breeding. Feather quality in any breed will appeal to a judge who has learnt to look for it and value its importance in the show pen.

In Leghorn females, two points I notice immediately are a neatly folded firm comb, not overdone and obstructing an eye or loose and being tossed to cither side and a correctly set tail. So many Leghorn females fail by being too tight and narrow in tail giving the impression of it being snick onto the end of the body instead of the back feathers gradually merging onto a tail which has some width at the base.

Good ear lobes always attract attention on a Leghorn of either sex and the perfectly flat lobes of the correct shape and substance are not seen as often as they should be. Males are inclined to be loo wide and hollow in lobes and I prefer the lobes flat and properly set on the face, not spreading over the edge of the wattles. In females, the lack of a good edge on the lobes is a common defect, the lobe needs substance with the front edge distinct from the face. I am sure every judge of Leghorns of any colour is attracted by rich yellow legs that are perfectly clean and free from any sign of dirt under the scales. This is a detail in show preparation so often overlooked by exhibitors. Learn to clean the legs properly and attend to it some days before the

show and again before washing the exhibit, so that it is not half done when time is short just before showing. Exhibits shown by breeders from the south coast of New South Wales and reared on dairy farms always have beautiful leg colour, however the right attention can produce similar results in a backyard. In the early 1940s Mr Chas Elliott, a leading breeder of Brown Leghorns at Adamstown, NSW, housed his cockerels in single pens in deep sheds with horse manure as litter. The feather condition and rich leg colour of his young birds were outstanding. Anyone who saw the Black Leghorn females shown by the late Jock Salmond would never forget the clean rich yellow legs of his exhibits. It is a distinct advantage in the show pen and I urge all breeders to make an effort to keep up the leg colour of their birds as pale legs can spoil the chances of an otherwise good quality exhibit. The importance of a daily supply of fresh green feed to maintain leg colour and add extra bloom to show exhibits cannot be over emphasised.

I like to see good body development at the rear of a Leghorn, not cut away or shallow behind the legs. A common defect in females is a boat shaped body lacking depth and capacity at the rear. But over all, to me the most objectionable fault a Leghorn can have in the show pen is to have legs set close together or in-kneed.

Any judge is attracted by an exhibit that has been well-prepared, shown fit and in perfect feather condition, in addition to excellence in standard requirements.

by courtesy of  Ian Benson, Maclean, NSW ....
A well known breeder of several varieties of poultry.   Has judged at leading NSW and interstate shows for the past forty years.