This means that there needs to be a very precise description of the birds that can be examined by APA judges, and enough birds need to be put in front of enough judges that they can attest that the birds are consistent with the description. Easy, right??
So, here’s how we are doing so far.
1) We have a pretty accurate description of the Basque Hen breed painstakingly drafted after much discussion among North American Basque enthusiasts and some helpful APA judges. The latest version can be found on this website under the title “Proposed Standard of Perfection”. So we know what the birds are supposed to look like. Consultation has suggested that our Basques are sufficiently different from other breeds that this requirement should not be problematic for APA recognition (especially for the Red Cuckoo/Marraduna variety as it has a very unusual colour pattern). The Red Cuckoo will be the first variety of Basque Hen moving forward for recognition.
2) A petition for recognition of a new breed must be sent to the APA Secretary at least one year prior to the first qualifying meet. A fee must be sent along with the petition to defray the cost of placing the text in the APA Standard of Perfection. The fee is $600.00 US for a new breed.
3) Affidavits will be needed from at least five breeders prior to the final qualifying meet “stating that they have bred the breed for not less than five years and that it produces no less than 50% of all specimens reasonably true to type, color, size and comb”. Basically, at least 50% of the birds hatched must match the description. Clarification with APA indicated that the birds must be breeding at least 50% true at the time of the affidavit, not for the full five years.
4) Only breeders who have been members of APA for at least 5 years are eligible to send in affidavits.
5) Lots of Basque birds will need to be exhibited at shows to allow them to meet the requirements for acceptance. This process includes:
- A judge licensed by APA will need to certify that at least four Basques in each class of cocks, hens, cockerels and pullets (minimum of 16 birds total) were exhibited in each of the two years preceding the first official qualifying meet. These judges will be asked their opinions about the quality and uniformity of the birds they examined.
- Once the previous requirement is met, the APA Committee on Standards will name the two qualifying meets. The first is at a regional (local) show, and the second is at the Annual Convention. The convention can be hosted anywhere in the US. The two qualifying meets are to be scheduled at least one year apart.
- At the two qualifying meets, there needs to be at least five exhibitors, all of whom are members of the APA at the time of judging.
- At the two qualifying meets, not less than 50 birds need to be shown with equal numbers in the classes of cock, hen, cockerel and pullet. That means that between them, the exhibitors need to show at least 12 or 13 birds in each of the classes. A suggestion from a very helpful APA judge was to register as many birds of good quality as possible for the qualifying meets to make a good presentation. It was suggested that we aim for 75 birds; on the off chance of disqualifications, in the event of withdrawals of birds who go into unexpected moults and in case of last minute cancellations of exhibitors, we would still have the required 50 birds.
6) The breeders who sign the affidavits and the exhibitors who show the birds do NOT have to be the same people. This will be helpful as some of our longer term breeders prefer not to show their birds for biosecurity reasons, but can still take part in the acceptance process. This may also help with some geography issues for the qualifying meets.
We are already doing very well! Basques have been shown in small numbers in Canadian shows in front of APA judges for the past 2 ½ years (2013-2015). We received some very positive and helpful feedback from the judges who examined them which has resulted in some excellent breeding decisions and clarity in direction. We are well on our way to seeing our beloved Basques officially recognized!
Basque enthusiasts still have some good work to do to reach our goal. There are many ways to support this cause for those who are interested. Join NABHA. Breed your birds (especially Red Cuckoos) as close to the proposed SOP as possible. Join APA. Donate some money toward the APA fee. Promote Basque Hens through NABHA, the EO Forum and other poultry websites. Show your birds to friends and family. Exhibit at local poultry shows. Help support someone else who will be part of the effort. Isn’t it fun to think that we will leave a lasting legacy on the poultry world?