This article is from the WSSF 2013 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Shows & More
By Karen Robbins
Lakeisha Wall, Australian Rodent Fanciers Society, Qld, Inc.
QOver here with our Australian QLD rodent club, things are very far behind. Our judge doesn’t use score cards, and conformation is not even accounted for at all in classes! Only colour, marking, and coat is judged. We have no resources for judges to learn correct type and conformation in rats and mice. I would love if I could speak to someone experienced over there who might be able to help me get onto the right track, or give me some suggestions at least. When it comes to rats, the part I struggle with the most personally is distinguishing good body type. I have a general idea of a good head/eyes/ears/tail. But I was wondering if maybe you had any photos of poor body type in a rat so that I can compare?
Do you have a certain process for training new judges at all?
Thank you for your time.
AWe have samples of our judging cards on our Show Info page. The Judging Card is the one we used to use. The new Judging Card is the one we currently use that has a breakdown on type, ears, and tail to give more feedback on each animal. We do all our entries and cards on the computer now and have a computer generated card made up for each animal. On our cards, anything below the solid line is just for that particular animal, where everything above the solid line is the conformation part that every animal gets comments on. On the computer card, items below the solid line are specifics to be commented on just for that animal. This way there are not any extra comments not needed and this leaves room at the bottom for judge’s comments that would be in addition to what is marked on top, e.g. wins on, loses on, needs a bath, comments on how to breed that animal, etc.
We have a Show Procedures pack available that has samples of all of our paperwork we use for shows, the judging cards, and the program and files we use to make the computer cards and other paperwork. We have our Official Rat Standards page and Mouse Standards page that has photos of the ideal for the different parts of the rat and mouse that is a good start on what to look for when judging or breeding. The Color Standards books have color photos of each type of rat or mouse that also includes conformation photos that is a good resource for judges as well as breeders.
Yes, we have Judge Training we do for our judges. To become an AFRMA judge, for 2 years prior to submitting their judge application our member must have practical breeding experience, have shown regularly, take good care of their animals, and been a member. They also have to be a trained clerk so they know how a show operates and the how the classes are judged. Once they are approved, the Judge Trainee must attend one Judge’s training session, a show, a second Judge’s training session, a show, a third Judge’s training session, and apprentice judge with an Approved Judge at a minimum of three shows before officially judging a show. At their first show as an Official Judge, an Approved Judge will sit-in to offer help and advice where needed. They must finish their training within 2 years of their first training session. A judge needs to have the experience as breeders/exhibitors and be thoroughly knowledgeable about the standards of all type of rats or mice. They are expected to have bred and exhibited rats or mice of quality and should possess a good eye which is necessary to evaluate the competition.
It is usually about 2 years for them to complete the judging process. I normally do more than just one training in between shows and some judges need to attend more than 3 shows for their learning. It also depends on how many entries and what is entered at each show as to how many shows are attended to complete the training. For the training, I have 15 large photo albums I use that have good/bad examples of each color, all the body parts/type, as well as various health issues. They also get hands-on training during this time. We don’t have live examples of every color/marking/ Variety all the time so that is where the books are used. Sometimes it’s better to see something with a photo example to understand the good/bad point since a live animal is moving around. Then there are some things that a live animal has to be used as a photo doesn’t capture the feature.
I’ve put together a page with rat type problems
that will hopefully help you when judging rats. I’ve also added some new photos on
AFRMA Official Rat Standard page showing more examples
of ideal parts of the rat.
We also have these pages online that would be helpful in learning:
Type Question: Square Butts on Rats
Type Question: Head Shape On Mouse & Tail Set (including coat)
Ear Set on Mice
Update: I just wanted to say, from everyone in our club, thank you so much for creating the rat type problems page. It has been absolutely invaluable to us, I’ve printed it out to give to our rat judge and it’s currently stickied on our Facebook page. It has helped us so much.
And thank you for the entire AFRMA website and its resources. Last weekend we had a huge rat display at the annual Gold Coast Show. We used a bunch of your posters and the display was a massive success.
I really feel as though Australia is getting a big push in the right direction with breeding rodents for pets and show! It’s exciting. With the help of our Australian NSW club, we ended up creating our own show and judging procedure which is working remarkably well.
Next matter of affairs is working on improving education for our registered breeders. We’re working on changing the ruleset for registered breeders, but most of all we’re hoping to create a Breeding Guidelines book tailored to rodent breeding and challenges in Australia specifically.
For our Official Registered Rattery/Mousery & Official Registered Stud program, it was a long process to come up with what we did, but it is important that there are guidelines for our breeders to become registered and not just to pay a fee to sign up. Karen Robbins