Imagine the scenario … you have planned your breeding to target a particular show and your young mouse is seven weeks and five days old. It is a very good size for an u/8 class. However, the judge compares it side-by-side with a six-week-old classmate and throws it off the table as being “over age”. How do you feel? All your planning and hard work was for nothing. Entry fee wasted. There is no right of appeal and it implies that you have cheated.
If the show were a few days later, that same mouse would be an adult. It will then appear small when compared to classmates that are twelve or fourteen weeks old. Some time later you read in NMC News that the judge has critiqued (penalised) it as being small, and yet in both cases it would have been a legitimate and valid entry.
It begs the question, is it necessary for breed standards to allocate points for size? Mice grow. They do not suddenly go from small to big on their 56th day of life.
Judges are, of course, aware of this and will generally consider every exhibit on its indi- vidual merit. Experience tells them what to expect for each age group, but there is no way they can know for sure whether a mouse is genuinely under eight weeks of age, and it can put them in a tricky position.
The situation is probably compounded somewhat because many varieties are at their peak for exhibiting when aged between about seven and twelve weeks old. The fancy relies on exhibitors being honest, and that’s a very good
thing, but if the NMC standard continues to state that size matters on the judging table, then the temptation to cheat is always there.
So, is it right to award points for size? I interpret that aspect of the standard as “being big”. For adult mice, if the exhibit has reached a minimun size for an eight-week-old mouse of its particular breed, then that should surely be enough to fully satisfy any “size” criteria.
Young exhibits need to be of sufficient age to be completely independent of their mother, and when they reach eight weeks they should be entered as adults without any risk of being unfairly penalised for being small as long as that minimum size has been achieved, as described above.


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