This article was written for clubs in the Middle East and Gulf. There is great interest in short face pigeons there. They needed help in organization of shows.
Judging pigeons is a difficult and thankless job. Great praise and criticism comes from the practice. The judge must be very familiar with the Standard of Perfection. The Standard should be available to the judge if necessary.
There are some very simple rules which MUST be followed by both the exhibitor and the judge at the shows. We are interested in Short Face, but the practice is more or less universal in judging all pigeons.
Here lies the biggest problem as I see it. It is very difficult to raise a beautiful show specimen and there are only a few annual shows for the breed. Therefore, there are not enough opportunities to come together for an excellent evaluation at a show. There is a great deal of pressure on the judge at the show. Also, the winner has attained quite an accomplishment and other breeders could be quite disappointed if the best pigeon is not selected. It is in everyone’s best interest the best bird should win the show on any given day.
Rule Number One: The judge’s decision is final with one exception. If a bird has been picked to win with a disqualification , (cracked eye, missing feathers in the wing or tail, and missing toe nails) then the show committee must convene to determine if the judge made a mistake or not. If an inferior specimen is picked to win. If the judge made a mistake, then each bird advances one place forward. If the committee finds for the judge nothing changes. In order to challenge the judge, a fee must be put up by the objecting breeder ($100.00 for instance). If the judge is wrong, then the money is returned to the breeder. If the judge is correct, then the money remains with the club. The show committee consists of the Officers of the Club and the Show Secretary. The number on the committee should be odd to avoid tie votes.
Rule Number Two: Each pigeon must only have one band on its legs. Two bands is a marked pigeon and is a disqualification.
Rule Number Three: There should be no talking to the judge from the exhibitors, while judging is in progress. This practice of talking to the judge is highly unprofessional.
From the videos and pictures that I have seen, I noticed the judging cages are too tall and too long. Short Face should be very lively, but given the opportunity they will fly all over the cage and ruin their feathers- especially, the wing and tail feathers. The birds should be handled minimally and a judging stick should be used if possible.
The bottom of the show cages need to be covered with something other than paper. Artificial grass works well or some kind of rug works well too. White pigeons will get very dirty in an instant and then your show specimen is ruined from touching the dirty paper. The pigeons will walk differently on slippery paper.
Use artificial lighting if possible! Sometimes additional lighting helps if it is not too intense.
In the USA, we have done some pretty dumb things at the shows too. I do not like more than one bird in a cage at a time. Here we crowd the birds. It causes the spread of disease and the spread of lice. The birds fight and pick each other’s eyes and if the bird gets herpes it will be blind in that eye. Then you have lost a show bird and possibly a breeder too.
At your most recent show you had 150 Budapest covering all the color classes which is quite remarkable and impressive. We have never had 150 Budapest in any of our shows in the USA ever! We do have 200 bird shows with several different short face breeds. In Germany and Hungary there have been large numbers of Short Face. Their judging is done entirely differently. Only judges are allowed in the room and the exhibitors see the results only after judging is over. This form of judging does not allow for the exhibitors to learn from the judging experience.
I once saw a young bird show where everyone was given one marble (one vote) and there were sealed cups in front of all the cages. There were no judges. The members simply placed their marble in the cup of the bird that they favored to win as best. The marbles were then counted and majority rules. This allows for everyone to have a vote and they can’t vote for more than one bird. If they vote for their own pigeon appropriately or inappropriately there is only one vote cast. Each member votes independently, so no one sees them voting. A paper ballot with the cage number on it can work too.
Since, the Budapest pigeon is so popular in the Middle East these are some of my suggestions to make your shows very successful. These are the options and opinions that I offer to you:
One approach is to class the Budapest into following categories and then compare them to one another for the Best of Show Category in the end.
White Beaks Dark Beaks Ganzles
Old Cocks 1, 2, 3 Old Cocks 1, 2, 3 Old Cocks 1, 2, 3
Old Hens 1, 2, 3 Old Hens 1, 2, 3 Old Hens 1, 2, 3
Young Cocks 1, 2, 3 Young Cocks 1, 2, 3 Young Cocks 1, 2, 3
Young Hens 1, 2, 3 Young Hens 1, 2, 3 Young Hens 1, 2, 3
In this fashion, you have 39 winners! 36 birds in the categories and the overall
1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. You will have many happy breeders and everyone will share in the rewards. You will most likely need more than one judge to accomplish this.
Another approach is to color class every bird in the show. 3 Blacks, 3 Whites, 3 Reds, etc. in the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place position and then work down to the Best 3 pigeons in the show. This method will, also, allow for more people to feel they have ownership in the show.
You could possibly keep the young birds and old birds separate. Pick the Best 3 Young and the Best 3 Old and then pick 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 1 to 6.
The stewards are the breeders who carry the birds to the judges. Have the judge step away from the cages until all the pigeons are delivered and then invite the judge back to the judging area. This gives the judge a break as well. Sometimes, the judge should just take a break from the rigors of judging just to clear their heads to think.
There is nothing wrong with 2 or more judges working together to accomplish the task of judging the show either.
You could, also, have entirely separate shows for young and old pigeons. Young bird shows only have pigeons banded that year. With Young birds it is permissible to allow for one wing feather to be missing on each side and two tail feathers missing if they are still molting. Open shows allow for any age bird to be shown.
In the USA, we use to have 2 day short face shows but it became very costly and since the shows were on the weekends it took us away from the family for more than a day which caused some family problems. This practice ended 35 years ago. We still have 3 day shows here, but you will usually not find short face pigeons in these shows because they get too stressed out or the breeders will bring poor specimens to the show. One day shows for Short Face is the best option if everyone cooperates in running the show. The Show Secretary is the person that has to guide the running of the show.
I hope that these suggestions give you some food for thought to continue to hold and maintain good shows.