Judging Muscovies
James Konecny
APPROACHING THE CLASS:  When it comes time to approach the Muscovy
classes, I find it necessary to do a walk-through before each bird is
evaluated and judged.  The class needs time to stand up and show what
they got, or in other circumstances some birds may need to calm down and
relax a bit.  This process also gives a judge a chance to get familiar for
what's ahead, and see what birds stand out.  A good clerk should also inform
the judge of numbers in the class and if any birds are located in another
place that may be missed out because they were cooped in another row with
another breed.
A good class of ducks can be ruined by poor cooping conditions.  Birds being
judged at different levels are a good example.  Birds on the floor, with the
exception of geese and turkeys, are at an extreme disadvantage.  A judge
needs to physically get down on the floor with the bird.  Looking down at
them or even squatting to see them tells me the birds were not evaluated
correctly.  Colored birds need to be where the light hits them correctly.  In
many cases a colored bird can appear silhouetted due to exterior lighting
and color is very difficult to evaluate.  I do realize that placing classes
where the lighting would compliment them would require a team of lighting
engineers and could probably take a setup crew months to plan out.  That's
why we judges need to handle the colored birds, when these circumstances
are present.  Take a walk with the bird and examine the color under better
lighting.  I personally check them in sunlight.  The color flaws pop out at
you.

THE JUDGEMENT:  First, I have to say I believe in placing all birds, even if
you have a class of 30 black Muscovy hens.  An exhibitor has paid an entry
fee, and felt the bird they were showing was worth bringing to the show,
they deserve to have the bird judged.  I always like to comment on the coop
tags.  In many shows I've judged a bird that placed 5th.  The bird didn't win
because of circumstances of the day.  I know the bird is probably the best in
the class.  This is where condition plays to win when all other factors are
added in.  A small comment on the coop tag explaining the placing helps the
exhibitor and competitors realize why the judge did what he did.  I will not
cover the knowledge of a judge's experience with Muscovies.  Judges should
follow the standard and evaluate every bird shown.
After the Muscovies have been judged and all Best and Reserve of varieties
have been chosen, it's time to choose Best and Reserve of breed.  Again,
good condition is a key factor.  All contenders should be handled and
critiqued thoroughly.  It happens to many times that a white or black bird is
chosen.  The Black Muscovy is a beautiful looking duck and looks good on
championship row.  It should not be that easy of a choice for a judge.  Each
color should compete without any favoritism.  Muscovies often get
overlooked when it is time for the judge to choose champion duck or
champion waterfowl.  Some judges refuse to handle the bird.  We all know a
Muscovy can be a monster in the hands of an amateur.  Due to low
representation at some shows, a good bird can get lost because of the larger
representation of other classes at the same show.  I have to really credit the
Muscovy club for drawing some large numbers to the shows.
When a Muscovy is considered to go up for champion duck, there is a good
chance its competition is going to be a Call or Indie.  I've seen this happen
at several shows, and the Muscovy usually loses out.  Some of the
arguments I've come up against:             

  • The caruncling is too much or too little
  • Caruncling is out of balance
  • Caruncling shows too much dark pigmentation
  • Blindness caused by caruncling
  • Smooth or damaged caruncling    

First, I'll argue the point that we have a Bantam duck vs. a large duck.  The
large duck has 2 added features that the Bantam duck doesn't: crest and
caruncling.  The larger ducks also display more space and probably have
fewer frayed feathers from its handling in the process of transport from
home to Champion row.  Any reputable judge should not penalize the bird if
overall appearance and feather luster is equally matched by its
components.  Again, using the crest as argument is irrelevant because most
judges don't even deduct or add points for crests on a Muscovy.  The
caruncling is the deciding argument.  When the bird is magnificent overall,
the caruncling is what's left.  It is the toughest argument besides size that
I've encountered in Muscovies.  I have my taste and opinion on the subject.  
It is good to see Muscovies climbing back in popularity and quality that
should make them contenders for Champion Row.  
This article was written and printed in the Fall of 2000.  The article has
already been read by others, and a couple of years have passed.  As a
breeder, exhibitor, & judge, I'm still learning.  I was questioned on several
topics mentioned in the article.  The question most asked was about the
handling of Muscovies.  This is not a required practice!  If the classes are
large and deep in quality, handling may be necessary for proper evaluation.  
Another comment was about Muscovies having a crest.  I guess that is just a
technical fact.  As mentioned in the original article, it would be irrelevant to
use the crest for argument of placements.
One very important fact that I missed in the original article, was to turn the
bird to view each side.  Just because the bird looks good on one side,
doesn't mean that it will on the other.  It is very important that this be
done, as we are looking for balance of caruncling and overall appearance.  
As some closing thoughts on Muscovies, I would like to shed some light on
new concerns.

  1. Many larger Muscovy males look huge over a back view, although when checking
    the depth they are very shallow birds.
  2. Larger old hens show very loose underlines.  I actually have seen one old female
    disqualified- 'keel'.  This should be overlooked, as a productive female has
    tremendous weight fluctuations.  Cutting for this defect should only be considered to
    break a tie decision.
  3. Black in Bean of White males - very common disqualification.
  4. Double cooping of males is a must.  A great male single cooped in competition often
    gets overlooked.
  5. A young Muscovy really has a disadvantage over older birds.

Some may agree, or disagree on the comment that Muscovies have
definitely 'arrived' and are now respectively reaping the awards of "Best
Heavy Duck," and even several "Super Show Champions."  Congratulations
to all the beautiful Muscovies,  to all of the dedicated breeders that have
brought them up the ranks, and to the Judges who put them there.
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