Manuel Reynolds’ Hyderabad Asils and Shamos

(As related to me by Billy Sumner and Carr Harris)

by Charles Everett

I had heard about this eccentric old gentleman chicken breeder from Virginia for years before I discovered that I actually possessed some of his blood on my yard. He died nearly 45 years ago: which means he was breeding Asil and Shamo before anyone on this site was even born. He had the most sought after Asil and Shamo on the eastern seaboard. The American cockfighters bought his birds to cross onto their American Gamefowl. None of these people bred them pure, however three young men from different backgrounds, and states, became the sole possessors of Manuel’s Asil and Shamo upon his death.

Manuel imported his Asil from Pakistan and his Shamo from Japan. His were not the first imports of these breeds into the United States, but they were considered to be the best in their day and the Asil are still viewed that way. The Shamo are another story that will be related further in this article.

Today, Manuel Reynolds’ Asil are sold as Hyderabad Asil in the United States. Whether that is because Manuel related to the sole inheritor of his Asil that they were indeed Hyderabad in origin, or whether the name was just attached to them, I cannot say with any degree of certainty. What I can tell you is that his Asil are different than any other Asil in America. Generally, the females come laced, whereas the males show no lacing. They are heavily beetle browed, around 5 to 7 lbs., and of excellent type and constitution. Of all the Asil I have kept, they are the gamest of the game. Unless raised together, the females fight like cocks, and cannot be kept with any other hens. If they are penned with other hens, the result will be death. This is not simply a pecking order thing I’m speaking of. I’m telling you they will kill the other hens.

Pure Manuel Reynolds' Asil hen: today refered to as a Hyderabad Asil
Pure Manuel Reynolds’ Asil hen: today refered to as a Hyderabad Asil

Hyderabad Asil cock.

Assuming Manuel Reynolds’ imported his Asil a century ago, and then there have only been 2 primary breeders of these birds during this time. These birds have not received any new blood during this time, but have been inbred with no disastrous results because of the vigor of the breed, and vast numbers hatched.

Manuel’s Shamo looked vastly different than the Shamo seen today. They did not possess the long legs of the Shamo of today. They had parrot beaks and big thick heads; the scales on the front of the legs are often lifted as if the bird had scale mites (which they do not) and was considered a very desirable trait. Also, they were not as upright as many of the Shamo seen in our shows in America. In there day, Manuel’s Shamo were the most sought after Shamo in America. Today, only one man possesses pure Manuel Reynolds’ Shamo blood: Billy Sumner, of North Carolina.

Recently, I had a conversation with Craig Russell, of Pennsylvania, concerning the Shamo. Craig is the foremost authority on chickens in America today in my opinion. I asked him which he considered to be the more correct Shamo type. Craig lived in Japan for several years during the 1970’s, as well as in other areas of Asia. He stated that when he traveled around to different areas of Japan, you would see birds that people were calling O Shamo with variable type. Some carried their bodies at, or around 45 degrees, while others carried them nearly horizontal. Carr Harris, who knew Manuel Reynolds agreed. Carr further added that the Shamo in America today show the influence of Thais. He stated that this could be seen in the ‘snake-headed’ feature of many Shamo. Both Carr Harris, and Craig Russell believe the head of Manuel Reynolds’ Shamo to be the more correct in type: thick all over, and without taper towards the front.

Billy Sumner still shows the Manuel Reynolds Shamo as they have been shown in America for nearly a century now. He seldom wins today because most exhibitors and judges aren’t even aware that standing in the cage before them is an old strain of fowl, that has been bred pure from imports, which came to our shore nearly a century ago. A breed of fowl kept by only two breeders in the United States in all that time, which in turn has been bred to look, and act, like Manuel Reynolds believed they should be.

This Shamo cock has 1/2 Manuel Reynolds blood. This can be seen most easily in the beak, head, length of leg and neck. Manuel’s pure Shamo stock were somewhat more upright than this bird, but not much.

Up and down the eastern seaboard, American cockers of the early twentieth century used the Asil, and Shamo bred by Manuel Reynolds to bring the added weight, and height to their American Gamefowl. If the actual histories of all the Roundhead breeds on the east coast could be told, I believe somewhere in their background would exist one of Manuel’s birds. He was the quintessential American breeder.

Read the comments below for additional information we have been finding out!


23 Responses to “Manuel Reynolds’ Hyderabad Asils and Shamos”

  1. 1 Ja8edfyre
    December 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Very informative article! Love the photos, especially the one of the Shamo carrying 1/2 Manuel Reynold’s line.

  2. December 7, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Great article Chuck, this is the kind of history that gets lost as the old timers fade away!

  3. 3 doc
    December 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for the comments thus far.

    Manuel’s Asil come all sorts of colors. His Shamos were Black and Darks.

  4. 4 Tim
    December 10, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Nice article but I would have hoped that it would have included some that may have gotten his birds. I know of an older man that got some of his birds. He lives in Ohio

    • 5 doc
      December 10, 2009 at 3:27 pm

      Tim, I listed all the people that rec’d Manuel’s birds that I had permission to mention. I know who the others are too, but I’m not going to put up folks names without their express permission. I hope you understand. doc

  5. 6 mark
    December 11, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Hello I’m from the england the uk. Nice article my brother had to cocks from the guy in Ohio, they are very good little birds, its nice to now that people are still trying to breed them pure.

  6. 7 doc
    December 13, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Carr Harris just sent me an email. In it he says, “[Manuel Reynolds] would cross his Asils and his Shamo. They looked nearly ‘dead-on’ your photo of the 1/2 M.R. Shamo. I’ve seen many M. R. Shamo with Ghan heads, necks, type most other breeders I’ve known, did the same.”

  7. December 14, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Here is a pic of Manuel that I got from Willem van Ballekom.

  8. December 14, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Really good read Doc. Thanks for sharing.

  9. December 15, 2009 at 12:01 am

    One source we have been informed about says that Manuel died in 1978.

  10. January 12, 2010 at 4:49 am

    im claderick from novaliches,philippines. thanks for sharing this article its very informative and inspiring. i love oriental fowls but i cant afford to acquire some and this kind of article excite me a lot. thank you so much for sharing.

  11. 12 cher kee vue
    January 29, 2010 at 1:35 am

    im was just wondering if yall selling anys of ur chicken?

  12. 13 Ibrahim Hapie
    February 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    pls i want to buy asil from you i’m leaving in the philippines, Tawi-Tawi. i hope i can buy from you..

  13. 14 Larry Lingerfelt
    February 10, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Some of the Hyderbad blood as well as the Pakistani bloodlines of Manuel Reynolds are still around in the Eastern part of the U.S. They have been carried on by very knowledgable breeders over the years. I am very grateful for their friendship and their willingness to share these wonderful families.

  14. 15 agustin tero
    February 14, 2010 at 7:30 am

    hi, i want to buy your asil. im agustin from benguet.

  15. 16 Carr Harris, Virginia
    February 16, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Larry Lingerfelt. Sir, your reputation precedes you! It is genuinely, a rare honor and privilege to have someone of your statue, join our conversation. I can only but hope, you may read my reply and share with us, some of the knowlege you have of Manuel Reynolds’ Asils. I was unaware that was but one strain, until I read your comment. Please help provide us with with a broader and more accurate understanding of these great Asils. Thank-you CLH

  16. 17 Larry Lingerfelt
    February 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Thanks Carr for the invite. While I am no authority by any means on Manuel Reynolds, I do know breeders that obtained his Asils when he was no longer able to keep them. They are good breeders and view their role as an honor and duty in carrying on this very fine family of fowl.

    Some of the information I received from these gentlemen when I acquired my M.R. Asils was that Manuel got his Japs from Earl Ashby. These were nice classic Black Shamos. He did make some 3/4 crosses into his Pakistani for fresh blood.

    As for the Hyderbadi blood at least some of the current Pakistani Asils originally from M.R. carry approximately 1/16th of this line that came directly from Pakistan. While both the Pakistani cock and hen were grey, as you know the Hyderbadi will throw Gold as well. This is the reason a lot of the current M.R. Asils will now throw Gold colored males and a few females.

    Hope this helps!

  17. 18 Carr Harris, Virginia
    February 17, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Thanks Larry, that adds so much to all of our understanding, and for me by confirming what I knew and assumed, as well as giving me information that I was completely unaware before your explaination. It brings great credibility, and strengthens the sincere and honest claims that other Asil breeders have made to me, as I was only familiar with Manuel Reynolds’ Red Asil and his Shamo. DOC, you get another” I told you so Carr” on me! LARRY, Sir it is such a pleasure, I hope to have the oppurtunity to finally meet, and talk with you in perso someday. Thank-you again,

  18. February 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    I appreciate your comments very much. As you are aware I’m sure, I published this article for just the type of information that you and others can add. I did not want to see the memory of a great breeder like Manuel Reynolds just to pass away into oblivion. Chuck

  19. 20 Larry Lingerfelt
    February 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Doc and Carr thanks for your efforts with the Manuel Reynolds history. And your support of oriental fowl around the world!

  20. 21 bakshu
    February 27, 2010 at 11:23 am

    dear sir,
    nice to find peela of hyderabad and pakistan

  21. 22 Nek Jan
    June 23, 2010 at 12:27 am

    There are two original types of chicken of the smaller combs. One is Kaura (Aseel) and the other is Shadaley (Malay). Aseel are originated from Sindh provincve of Pakistan and Malay are from North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.

    Kaura (Aseel) are meat eaters and fighters (also called killing machines). Shamo, Thaiwan, Irani Lari, Turkish Hints, Ga Noi and Malagache are mixtures of Kaura (Aseel) and other breeds. A few centuries ago the naked neck chickens were crossed with Aseel to get Ga Noi in South-East Asia and Malagache in Madagascar.

    Best Aseels are still found in Sindh, Pakistan. Bhaingam aseel, reza aseel, rampure aseel, mianwali aseel, etc are the result of crosses of pure Aseels with other local breeds.

    Shadaley (Malay) are grass (vegetation) eaters and are not good fighters. Malay are normally taller and longer than Aseel, but some Aseel strains are the biggest in the chickens world.

  22. 23 Carr Harris
    July 20, 2012 at 12:53 am

    After raising Mr Reynolds’ Asils myself, I’m really pleased he would be able to recognize them as his line were he to see them, a testiment to how highly I regard his line. Not being able to post my photo, I am providing a link to Ultimate Fowls Forum, when I was asked about them. http://www.ultimatefowl.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=11009

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