Defining Show Quality
In the United States, according to ECBC governing rules, chinchillas are judged against a breed standard, not each other, with the exception of the selection of the champion animals. Therefore there can be multiple 1st place chinchillas in the Black Velvet class, for example, but only one Class Champion and Reserve Class Champion. A typical class of 20 chinchillas might have six 1st place chinchillas, seven 2nd place chinchillas, five 3rd place chinchillas, and two 4th place chinchillas. Of the six 1st place chinchillas, one will be named Class Champion, and another will be Reserve Class Champion. The Class Champion and Reserve Class Champion will be held over until the Show Champion and Reserve Show Champion are selected at the end of the show. Since this method of judging is used, ECBC also allows any ECBC sanctioned judge to sign and issue grading certificates. This is basically an 'equivalency' certificate that determines the quality of a graded chinchillas to be equivalent to a 1st, 2nd, 3rd place chinchilla, etc... Since the champion awards at shows are determined by judging one animal against another, grading certificates cannot be issued that state that any given animal is a "champion equivalent." The condition that a chinchilla is in at the time of grading or showing is subject not only to the quality of that chinchilla, but also to the condition in which it is presented. Usually to achieve optimal condition, the chinchilla will be in the 6-14 month range at the time of showing, it will be in prime, it will have been caged alone and have no pulled spots, it will not have been recently transported or shipped long distances, it will have been fed, housed and dusted properly and consistently, and it will have been groomed immediately prior to showing by an experienced groom. Chinchillas come into 'prime" about once every 4 months. Some chinchillas only look their best when they are in prime, and some look good all the time. Therefore, just because a chinchilla places 1st place in January at a show, that does not mean that it will necessarily receive the same award two months later in March. For this reason, ECBC allows breeders to qualify 'numbers of animals' each year for the National Show, but they do not have to qualify specific individuals.
On the Chinchillas.com web site, our descriptions concerning showability and/or quality are determined by the assessments of sanctioned ECBC and MCBA judge Jim Ritterspach, as he observes the quality of the described chinchilla at the time it is photographed for the site. This is basically equivalent to grading, as described in the previous paragraph. We may modify the descriptions as per Mr. Ritterspach's recommendations as the animals grow and mature, are shown, or as their condition warrants. The chinchillas on the site are described and categorized using the following terms:
1.) Top Show Quality / Herd Improvement Quality / Premium Production Quality
Top Show, Herd Improvement, and Premium Production are terms that all describe basically the same quality of chinchilla, according to its color, age and sex. The term Herd Improvement is generally used to describe males, and Premium Production can be used for either females or males, but is usually used to describe females. We hesitate to describe recessive color mutations and some hybrids as Herd Improvement, so they are often described as Top Show Quality. Chinchillas described using these terms are generally strong 1st place equivalent chinchillas that show the potential to go higher on the show table (assuming the chinchilla is shown in optimal condition), at the time of grading or assessment . Reservations concerning the grade, such as size or off color, are noted under the animal's description.
2.) Show Quality
Show quality chinchillas are generally 1st to high 2nd place equivalents at the time of grading or assessment. Any reservations concerning the grade, such as size or off color, are noted under the animal description.
3.) Intermediate Show Quality
Intermediate show quality chinchillas are generally 2nd to 3rd place equivalents at the time of grading or assessment.
4.) Not-for-show Quality.
Some not-for-show chinchilla mature into showable chinchillas, but these chinchillas are generally sold as young animals, and are not represented as being suitable for show purposes. Not-for-show chinchillas are equal in vitality and potential breeding soundness to our show chinchillas, but they lack one or more of the following attributes necessary to qualify as strong show prospects: conformation, veiling, color hue, size, and/or fur quality.
Specialty chinchillas include new breeds and strains like the minis, dwarfs, and the Royal Persian Angoras. How these chinchillas will be judged and graded in the future will depend on the judging specifications set forth by the various US and international show systems as they adopt these new classes of chinchillas. These specialty and newer mutation chinchillas are too new, in essence, to be included in many current show systems.
It is important to note, concerning all grading assessments made on this site, that judging is subjective, and awards/grades will vary somewhat from judge to judge. Some judges, for example, will almost never place an exceptional quality chinchilla, regardless of how extreme the quality, at the top of the show table if the chinchilla is small or if it is a hybrid mutation. Other judges will overlook a weakness in size if the chinchilla shows extreme quality otherwise, and will not favor a dominant mutation over a hybrid when all other qualities are equal. Specific strengths and weaknesses must be noted by the buyer, as he or she determines the qualities needed in his or her own herd. Additionally, the assessments made on this site concerning showability pertain to US show systems. Although quality and aesthetics are universal to some degree, show specifications differ from country to country. If you have specific needs for your breeding program, such as a need for a herd improvement male with an extremely white belly, or a female with very good veiling, or if you are looking for a show prospect to compete in a non-US show, please contact us for more specific details about any chinchilla you are interested in.
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