How to Judge Poultry



The head signifies the state of health and vitality of the bird. In most breeds the eyes should be large, bright and prominent. A bird’s facial skin should be relatively fine in grain and soft in texture with the comb bright in colour.


In all breeds the tail should appear in a straight line when the bird is viewed from the front or back.


Colour in birds makes variety, gives identity, lends beauty and provides uniformity of appearance. Undercolour is also a characteristic of each colour pattern and it is also considered.

The colour of a bird’s comb, face, eyes, lobes, wattles, legs and feet are also important and will vary depending on the breed.

Back and Body

The shape of the back and body varies between breeds, but it is essential that that shape arises from a sound skeletal structure. This can only be determined by carefully handling the bird.

Legs & Feet:

Correct conformation of the thighs, shanks, spurs on males, feet and toes is essential for every breed and judges will be looking for structural soundness in all areas.


The weight will be considered in proportion to breeds size standard and the specific requirements for each bird.


The breed will determine the length and specific placement of the wings, however regardless of breed the wing should be of sound structure with the primaries and secondaries naturally overlapping in the correct order.

Feather Quality

Feathers act as a protective covering for birds. It is important that feathers be of good texture with strong shafts, the barbs, barbules and barbicels closely and tightly knitted together (except for a few ornamental breeds).


The vigour, pigmentation and handling when held determine the general condition of a bird. Condition can change depending on seasonal changes, age, egg production and reproductive cycle and will be taken into consideration by the judge.

The above judging criteria and comments have been provided for the purpose of education and do not represent the views, opinions or position of judges, officials or the RA&HS. Any resemblance to actual persons, competitors, or exhibits living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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