The Judging Process
At QRF shows animals are judged across several criteria against a written standard and for each criteria are assigned a score that describes how closely the animal resembles the standard. This occurs both for physical features and for temperament and health.
The criteria used in judging differ between varieties classes (traditional animal conformation and colour judging) and pet classes (assessing only the health and temperament of the animal). It is important to note that, even though there is an emphasis on conformation and colour in the varieties classes, first and foremost the animals must be healthy and friendly. Because health and temperament are the foundations on which animals should be bred - with conformation and colour only being prioritised once these are achieved and maintained - our scoring system weights these qualities heavily.
Below is a brief overview of the process by which judges asses rodents.
Judges use a score card to rank each attribute of the rodent, and whichever rodent has the highest score in it's class is the winner. How the rodents score in each section depends on how closely that rodent resembles the standard. You can download a copy of the Queensland Rodent Fanciers (QRF) standards for rats here and for mice here. Here is a quick breakdown.
Condition & Temperament (possible 40 points out of 100)
Condition (20 pts) & Temperament (20 pts) are the most important values for QRF, therefore it takes up a larger portion of points. Condition refers to how healthy the rodent is. A rodent with a decent size, shiny coat, bright clear eyes & clear breathing will score well. Temperament refers to how friendly the rodents are. A rodent that is very comfortable and relaxed with being picked up, prodded and generally handled will score well.
Conformation (possible 40 points out of 100)
Conformation refers to the body and bone structure of the rodent. Conformation consists of the first 6 attributes on our score cards - Type/Size/Body Shape (20 pts), head (5 pts), eyes (5 pts), ears (5 pts) and tail (5 pts).
Variety (possible 20 points out of 100)
The variety refers to the rodent's individual colour, marking and type. Each colour, marking and coat or body type has it's own Standard as to what it should ideally look like. Each rodent is scored according to how closely it resembles that standard. Colour & Marking are worth 10 points, and Coat type is worth 10 points. Hairless mice & Patchwork rats are not judged on colour/marking, and all scores are added up via percentages to fairly calculate winners.
Whilst pet classes do have score cards, they are not calculated to indicate the winners like in the Variety Classes. The score cards are there to ensure that the judge is inspecting every aspect of the animal, however it is the judges choice of the winning animal. Another purpose of the score cards is to give the exhibitor feedback about their animal from the eyes of a trained judge. You can download a copy of the pet standards here.
Pet Classes Scorecard
Tractability (x/5) - Scored out of five, this is how easy the rodent is to handle, pick up etc. This is important to us as tractability shows a familiarity with handling and the ability to relax and trust new people.
Health (x/5) - This is where minor health issues such as minor wounds, cysts, excessive sneezing etc is covered. Anything significant would result in the judge disqualifying the rodent.
Condition(x/5) - This is the overall physical condition and fitness of the rodent. It takes into account their weight (if its healthy or not), their muscle tone, if their fur is in great condition and their tail profile. It's aimed at giving owners a second view on how there rats are doing overall.
Preparation (x/5) - This is how well prepared the rodent is for the show day, typically rodents should have a clean tail & body. Rats should also have their nails trimmed to stop the judge becoming covered in scratches.
Temperament (x/5) - This is all about how interested, engaging, friendly and affectionate the rodent is.