By Dr. Charles R H Everett

The old poultry writers, Browne, Finsterbusch, Temminick, and Wright felt the Malay was one of the more ancient breeds of fowl. Some even believed this race of fowl was derived from a now extinct breed of fowl. Whether they were correct in this last assumption has yet to be proved or disproved. What is for certain is their relationship to all the other Oriental Gamefowl excepting perhaps the Sumatra.

The Malay is one of the rarest breeds of poultry in North America. According two independent surveys conducted by the Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy there are estimates of less than 300 breeding Malays in the United States and Canada. Most of these birds are in the hands of individual breeders. Currently, Billy Summers of North Carolina has the largest breeding flock in the States. As rare as the Malay large fowl is the bantam Malay is even rarer. Past APA President Danny Padgett of Florida is one of only a handful of breeders of Malay bantams in the country.

Malays possess several important traits in their pure form which is important for preservationist: namely, their ability to invigorate other breeds of fowl when used in a grading breeding system. Their height, weight, and general good health can be used to great advantage by the breeder when any of these are lacking in other rare breeds of fowl. Of course, we are all aware of the use of Malays to create the Cornish which is the cornerstone of our modern chicken meat industry. What many are not aware of is its use in improving many of the other non-Oriental Game breeds as well.

Though they are not a favorite of all poultry fanciers, there is no doubt that an excellent Malay demands attention. The best are cock birds are nearly 3 feet tall and weigh more than 10 pounds! Furthermore, the best hens reach nearly that same height and possess a definite game-disposition.

The ones I have seen in the shows lately have the height and weight but many are missing the refinement of Malays of the past. Without exception they should ALL possess the 3 curves: neck, back, and tail. The back should not be a roach back, but instead, produced by the wing carriage. The tail should be carried below the horizontal and should even be drooping or ‘whipped’ as it is called. The comb is known as a strawberry, walnut or cushion comb. All of these are one in the same they are just called various names by breeders from different parts of the country. The comb looks like a strawberry that has been cut vertically with the stem end placed at the top of the head. The Malay is one of those breeds where ‘type is everything!’

The stock that I have been working with contains ‘blood’ of the great stock of the past as shown by Hazel Matthews and Henry Miller. However, I will readily confess that I have experienced my share of problems in producing quality Malays. One of the problems I experienced early on was chicks with crooked toes. I mean, they would be near perfect in every area except for those crazy crooked toes! At first, I thought it was an inbreeding problem, and then, quite by accident I discovered it was an incubation problem. I had a bunch of Malay eggs in the incubator when I allowed the temperature to go up to 104*F. (This happened during one night). To my surprise, when these particular Malay eggs hatched there were no crooked toes! Thus, from this point on I allowed for higher temperatures with Malay eggs—never 104*F again, as this was an accident, instead I run my still-air incubator at 101-102*F for Malay eggs only. With these temperatures I have eliminated the crooked toes and have experienced excellent hatches. Could it be that the Malay has a higher body temperature than other breeds of fowl?

I have not had any fertility problems with my Malays, but I have culled for basic stamina. My stock does suffer from a peculiar genetic disorder experienced by various Gamefowl known as the ‘shakes’ or ‘tremors.’ I am almost certain that this difficulty is a result of inbreeding without proper culling. Thus, I cull ruthlessly for healthy stock. If any bird shows even the slightest lack of general good health, then we call that bird ‘supper!’

Malays are not the best laying females; though mine do lay rather well from January through March. From March onward it is hit and miss. The hens will also go broody in a skinny minute; especially when the weather gets warm. The cockerels tend to be fertile before the pullets. However, I try not to use young cockerels for breeding purposes. I like to give them time to adequately mature to see if there are any health problems that will develop. The cockerels are typically not mature until they are between 2 and 3 years of age. So, if you are looking for a fast maturing breed, then you need to look elsewhere.

To avoid growing problems, remember the legs of the Malay are very long and are required to hold a tremendous amount of weight—for a chicken—when mature. I take Malay chicks off chick starter when they are 10 weeks old. I grow them out on scratch grains, bread, and grass. This lower protein diet allows for them to mature slowly. Still, I have had Malay cockerels to ‘go down on the hocks’ abruptly at 12 weeks of age. This seems to be an inability of the young bird to absorb adequate amounts of riboflavin. SPPA member, Andy Marsinko, advised me to mix active yeast into the drinking water of the cockerels for one week at weeks 12, 14 and 16. The yeast helps breakdown the riboflavin in the green feed; thus, helping the young cockerel to absorb it into his system. Since beginning this practice, I have not had a single cockerel with this problem. Interestingly, I have never had a pullet to exhibit the same problem. When telling my story to a meat poultry producer, he gave me this funny look and said, “Now that you mention it, I’ve never seen a pullet go down on the hocks either; though we have cockerels do it all the time.” I cannot explain this phenomena, but on my farm and with my stock it is a fact—only cockerels ever exhibit the problem of going down on the hocks and this only seems to happen between the ages of 12 to 16 weeks.

These giants of the poultry world have almost disappeared from North America. There survival is due to a handful of breeders. A Malay breeder must possess adequate space for the breed to mature properly. This is not a breed for a cage! However, the bantam Malay still has all the characteristics of its’ larger counterpart without as much of a space requirement. I do believe the Malay needs to be preserved for future generations. It has been a foundation breed of our modern poultry industry and may be needed again. Besides, a flock of these giant chickens it simply a sight to see!

To discuss this article, ask questions to the author, or just talk chickens, check out the Ultimate Fowl Forum.

33 Responses to “Malay”

  1. 1 Julia Keeling
    January 17, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Just a note – I am familiar only with the British standard. But as the breed was developed here I think that it should be the relevant one. In this standard the middle curve of the three IS produced by the roach back. The current standard states:
    “…… Back – short and sloping WITH CONVEX OUTLINE …..”
    only in Europe (and USA?)was it decided to produce the shape only by the top line of the wing.
    This is a very fundamental point of the standard, and should be correct.

    • 2 zainal
      December 31, 2009 at 1:14 pm

      The Malay CANNOT be south Indian Kulang because it was the ancient south Indian Pallavas who had the galleons to sail to Malaya & brought back the breed with them, not the other way around! The locals had only small pirate ships then.
      Sadly, purebred Malays are rare here due to admixtures with feral or “peasant” Malays i.e. smaller Malayoides with high fertility rates, and jungle-fowl hybrids + increasingly western utility fowls.
      Cockers extensively breed the more slender Thais i.e. where the money is, since cock fighting is legal in neighbouring Thailand. Higher station Malays are not acceptable thus further breeding them out in the pit.
      Purebred Malays can now be found mainly in Australia, UK, US & Germany – a colonial legacy (whatever the standards) where they are still favoured – fortunately!

  2. January 18, 2009 at 4:36 am

    According to the American Standard of Perfection, a roach back is a deformed back, humped. It also points out how not to confuse it with the convex back of the Malay. Basically, they are saying that the Malay back will look similar to a roached back that would be a defect in a different breed. 😉

  3. 4 Julia Keeling
    January 18, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Yes, in any other breed a roach back is a fault over here also, but not in a Malay. A convex back IS a roach back over here. I don’t really see the distinction!
    I just point this out because it is not something that should be lost. Again I quote the current British standard, which, although not Asian is actually from the ‘country of origin’, the show Malay being very much a British development:
    ” The profile of neck hackle, BACK, and upper feathers of tail should form a succession of three curves.”
    (i.e.the middle curve NOT being produced by the wing carriage!)

    • 5 Allyn Frerichs
      September 19, 2012 at 3:02 am

      My understanding of a roach back is something caused by an uneven hip placement and is often accompanied by a wry tail. Therefore the curved back in a Malay would merely be a breed characteristic. Allyn Frerichs

  4. January 18, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    The American standard says the same thing about the 3 curves. From what I have read, they both sound the same to me. As far as the wing causing it, I can’t speak for Dr. Everett, but I don’t see anything about the wing causing the convex back in the standard, so I am not sure what he means by that. I have never owned these birds, so I am surely no expert, and I am just going by what I have read. The only thing that I do know about the US standards, is they focus way more on look than the character of the bird. This is why we have breeds like the Malay, Asil, and Shamo over here that are as tame as a barred rock, which is very sad.

  5. 7 Julia Keeling
    January 18, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    The Malay was actually developed as a showbird – so is a ‘gentle giant’ for that reason.
    Asil and Shamo should never have a gentle character like that though! Without that game temperament they are simply NOT Asil or Shamo, however beautiful they look!!!

  6. 8 Kim
    January 20, 2009 at 1:40 am

    I’m just a hobby farmer who has recently purchased 4 malay chickens. They are young birds (6 ms)
    and I am head over heels with the breed. I would love to find somebody who would be willing to sell me a couple or more hens so that I can start a breeding program and develop a small flock.
    I don’t know how to get in touch with people on this so any help will be appreciated. I am
    located in Ontario Canada. thanks all, Kim

  7. January 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Julia has raised a good point; I should have been clearer on this point in the article; however, I stand by what I wrote and it is not is disagreement with the British Std as I under stand it.

    APA Std. Malay heading pages 179-181
    BACK: Rather long, slanting, rather convex in outline, tapering to tail’ large and broad at shoulders.
    WINGS: Large, strong, bony, very prominent at shoulders and carried tightly folded against the body. Wing points may rest on top of saddle feathers but should be carried parallel to the top line of the back and wing tips should not touch each other over the back.

    APA Std. definitions page 10:
    ROACH BACK. A deformed, humped back, a disqualification. Note — Should not be confused with heavy hip muscles in the cornish male, or the required covex back line in Malays and Rouen Ducks.

    By taking all these things together one can see that the Wings do form the middle curve along with the convex back because the are parallel to the top line.

  8. 12 Julia Keeling
    January 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Not arguing with you doc – but the British standard does clearly state that ”the profile of neck hackle, BACK, and upper feathers of tail should form a succession of three curves.” Our standard does say that the wings are carried high but does not suggest that they should form the top curve – nor does it in the American standard actually! If you look at your own quote above, it states that they “should be carried PARALLEL to (not level with!)the top line of the back”
    Anyway, I just wanted to draw people’s attention to this, not to argue. People can draw their own conclusions.

  9. 13 Scott Franklin
    January 25, 2009 at 5:29 am

    This is very intriguing to me, as Julia knows, in that I have been working on a model for the “Gallus giganteus”. I believe, as do some others, that the chicken is a hybrid of two distinct species; the Red Jungle Fowl and something resembling the Malay in form.
    The Malay is the only breed selected for a rounded convex back, and this would make sense in a flightless bird adapted, balanced, for running with large thighs; my GG. Hips slope with a ‘break’ where the spine continues forward more nearly horizontal.
    In a second generation Cornish Bantam X small Malay???, I have a cockerel with a definite break in the back. It probably occurs often in this type of bird, though not generally selected for to my knowledge.
    Others come with the back quite flat, straight, and you get this rather vertical carriage to the body.
    My GG model also says the wings met over the back, similar?? to Malay, and may have functioned as a ‘parasol’, aiding in heat dissipation. The wings could be elevated slightly, creating a space between wing and back.
    I intend to find out, through breeding, if this is so.
    Best regards….

  10. April 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    I am posting this for my friend Willem.

    The Malay’s back or wings ? An interesting discussion but we should realize that the Malay we know at present day has been alternated by the British back in the 19th century. And this to extreme proportions. One simple burning question arises; should we really continue to breed the Malay to the present standard ? The Malay is actually a Kulang Asil variety from southern India. Photo material and facts prove there can no doubt about this. Today the Malay is more or less an elegant “flamingo-like” gamebird. Do we really want this ? What we need is a change of vision. This means breeding of the Malay to the physical criteria we see in its homeland India.
    Look at a real majestic example bred back in the old days http://www.ganoi.com/photopost/showphoto.php?photo=21644

    Regards Willem

  11. 15 Julia Keeling
    April 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    My opinion would be that, having been bred as this type for well over 100 years, it should remain as it is – a showbird developed in Britain. It is not now the Kulang Asil it descended from, either in form, temperament – or name. It is a distinct breed in its own right.
    I have no ax to grind here as I do not like the breed myself! Although I very much like the breed from which it descended. But I think it should be recognised that they are two distinctly different breeds now. Recognising the show ‘Malay’ in no way stops us recognising the magnificent South Indian Asil.

  12. 16 Julia Keeling
    April 30, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    For the info of those interested – this discussion is continued in the Oriental Gamefowl Forum.

  13. 17 Ronnie Profitt
    May 8, 2009 at 1:50 am

    I am Ronnie Profitt and I live in the US and have been raising Malays for 15 years now. Most of my birds originate from German imports and from Basil Smith in Pennsylvania. I currently own two imported lines from Germany and US. Danny Padgett and Billie Summers both got their birds from me. The German lines do carry the second curve with wings on the back making it look like a hump, but there is no hump actually there. My US malay line has their second curve in the back which is a bone as you would call it roach back. Both are very nice birds, but very different. I have been told that I have the best Malay bantams in the US. I would love to hear from other Malay breeders around the world if they would like to write. I will be getting a different computer so I can send pictures of my beautiful birds. I also raise Shamo large fowl and Ko-Shamo.

    Best regards,
    Ronnie Profitt

  14. May 8, 2009 at 2:47 am

    There is a large discussion on this article on our board as Julia stated. The link to the thread is http://www.ultimatefowl.com/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=2303 Thanks!

  15. 19 Gerald Naidoo
    May 15, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Thank You for discussing a Breed I simply love. I’ve had a look at many Malay pics, through the internet, from around the world and found that South Africa has some of the best specimens of “Modern Day Show Malays” . They are very distinct, tight feather, shapey, tall, elegant birds. Nothing near to the Kulang Aseel .

  16. 20 Niel Williams
    June 5, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I have raised Malays for 12 years. I purchased birds from Hazel and Basil. Hazel had black reds and Saipan with the platinum backs. I have never seen any birds either Saipans or Malays that have the heads of Hazels birds. I myself breed my birds for my enjoyment over anything else. I have yet to see anyone post a picture of either bird next to a yard stick. Many tales of three foot birds, no pictures.I talked to Fred Quattlebaum years ago who did have photos of 33″ saipans in a magazine of some sort. In my opinion, a 30″ plus bird needs to weigh at least 13 lbs in order to move that tall frame with any kind of grace. A 10lb 3 foot giant would be like a 15 year old gangly boy.I did see two Saipans that Hazel had that were tremendous. Next to typical 2 by 4 inch fence they stood 33 and 34 inches. She wouldn’t sell either.My birds are very man friendly. They will fight, hens are considerably worse than males. I don’t purposely fight them, things happen.Great respect and thanks to those of you who help to keep all the aian/oriental fowl going.

  17. 21 Chickenstu
    August 7, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Oh dear the poor old Malay does get a bit of a bashing- lucky there a few of us to preserve this most wonderful gentlemans fowl- not like the yobby game others keep LOL

    I have stuck by this fowl even though it is clear that it is looked down upon by many of many fellow fanciers.

    Here in the UK they are very few breeders of Malay which are true to type.

    As JK states there is a difference of opinion between the UK standard and that sort by my fellow breeders in Germany and it would appear in the USA. To me the high wing carriage is a fault- goose wings- and not something i like in my fowl. I like the curve to be there by the outline of the back- its a breed characteristic for the standard in the UK.

    I do get it still as I have some Germany blood in my Malay- but I have followed the British type in my breedings.

    Please keep up the good work-and long my the Malay remain the king of fowls.

  18. 22 cody carwile
    December 29, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    hello my name is cody carwile and i am 16 years old. i have had chickens all my life, mostly cochins and call ducks, but i would like to start with a few malays. hopefully someone in the us would sell me a few and teach me everything there is to know about the breed? my email is cmshaner@aol.com thank you

  19. 24 razwi ahmad
    February 2, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Hello. I am from Malaysia and I am actually surprised that there is a breed of chicken known as Malay. This breed is very common in my country and you can find it almost anywhere in Malay villages throughout Malaysia. Here, this breed is known as “ayam laga” (fighting rooster) and it is bred for fighting even though it is illegal to have cock-fights in Malaysia. The best local roosters are bred in Terengganu, a state on the east coast of Malaysia. It is a majestic and beautiful bird and it looks just as the one illustrated in this blog and the genes of this bird are being kept as pure as possible by cock-fighting enthusiasts since ancient times.

    • 25 zainal
      February 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm

      If Malaysian has just found out that there is a game fowl breed call Malay, then he has
      a long way to go.
      His “ayam laga” or fighting chicken, he should realize, are all THAIS here, because cock fighting is illegal in this country and so the cockers bring them across the border for the real fights since its legal there. The Malays are just too large for the Thai breeds, by the way has he seen a Malay?
      As for the best ones coming from Terengganu, I wonder where he got that from, rumors?
      (For info, the commonly used term is “baik” for good breeding – not laga)

  20. 26 aMickiewicaa
    March 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    This is Ervin Geater

    Just like to start out by telling you all

    Good day folks,
    Wonderful to be here, I hope to stay for a long time and be a help to others

  21. October 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Hi, I am Werner Lamkemeyer from Germany and member of German Malay Club!
    Since 1972 I am breeding Malay with a bended back, what is meaning, the back spine is a little bit bended upwards. The wing´s high carriage should underline the middle bow, to make the 2nd bow more impressive.
    For serious information, just visit valid websites of http://www.malaieninfo.de ! Infos are offered in English also, don´t worry. A lot of digital photoalbums are showing you Malay in all colours and ages under button “Fotos”. In Germany we have the most united Malay breeders of Europe and we are proud to say: We have the best fancy Malay of the World, depending on our thorough breeding. Depending on selection on vitality, some birds are really dynamic, not “brave”! 😉 Our judges can tell you something…
    The name Malay was wrong interpreted by East India Company, who imported the Malay before 1570 to Germany, Brabant (former old name for Holland) and to GB! The date 1570 is verified by old oil painting of Luger tom Ring: “Küchenstilleben und die Hochzeit of Kanaa”. Everyone can admire that painting at famous museum of art and history of arts in Muenster/Germany, Domplatz.
    Any questions? My e-mail address is: malaieninfo@web.de
    I am the spokesman for Malay in Europe (Elected by Mr Otto Kirchhoff, BZA/Germany), so you all are welcome, to get basical information by an experienced insider.
    Best greetings! Werner

  22. 28 naran naidoo
    April 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    hi i am a south african and we have malay game here . i have been told that we have some of the best quality in south africa . i would like to get a show standard from people out side south africa .so that i can compare our quality.

  23. 30 Will
    August 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    do you have to dubb maylays?

    • January 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      German show type Malay breeders never dub Malay. Why? It is better, to select the wattles away. Now we also fixed the smooth comb without cancer-like growings. To dub is meaning to cut something off. But the genes will develop it further in the next generations. In last ten years we have been lucky: Wattles-less roosters and hens suddenly appeared in the show type Malay. From them we bred further. It is also necessary, to only breed with hens, who do not show big wattles. For future fertility we go out, it is better, to let them keep tiny wattles.

  24. November 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    great piece of work, pls keep it up, farming is d love of my life n poultry is tops with me. here in Nigeria, we ‘ve got an excellent climate to breed birds of all kinds. Our major problem is d lack of political will to inject creative n sustainable policies that will create d necessary atmosphere for agriculture to thrive. All d best to you n
    keep on doing d good work. The encouragment u bring into our lives is simply fantastic. Thanks n Godbless.

  25. September 28, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Interesting comments about Malay. In Australia there are quite a few yet the best i ever saw belonged to a Mr Harry Rudd in the 1970’s. Harry told me they were pure Isaan Thai fowl. When i sought them out in 2007, sure enough the were some huge types with strawberry comb up there. They were all just part of what the Thais call Kor Rai which means Savage Neck. If you like good Malay types, it pays to visit the back blocks in North East Thailand

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

RSS Ultimate Fowl Forum

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.



%d bloggers like this: