Archive for the 'Gamefowl' Category


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!


The American Game Fowl

By: Daniel Thornton & Randy Stevens

Kelso Cock

Breed Statistics:

Purpose: Ornamental, Cockfighting (where legal)

Comb: Pea,  Straight, Triple, and combinations of each

Broodiness: Frequent

Climate Tolerance: All Climates

Breed Temperament: Aggressive towards other birds, but easily handled by people. Bears confinement well, and very vocal

Breed colors/varieties: Almost any color imaginable

Leg Color: White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black

General Egg Info:

Productivity: Average

Size: Medium

Color: White or Cream

Kelso Hen


American games were created by the various European, and Oriental games that were brought into our country by our forefathers. They bred them specifically for cockfighting, leaving us the birds we have today. Cockfighting is a large part of our heritage, like it is in many other countries around the world, but due to recent law changes, these beautiful birds are becoming more popular as an ornamental, or show fowl. There are organizations, like the American Gamefowl Society, that have standards for showing these birds, just as the APA does, and many people are starting to breed these birds for this, instead of the pit, but in the same time keeping the gameness that makes them what they are. The American gamefowl is broken down into strains, unlike most other fowl. Some of the more popular strains are Hatch, Kelso, Albany, Sweater, Whitehackle, Claret, Roundhead, and Butcher. Strain names originated from people that performed well in the pits, with the birds they made themselves through selective breeding. Strains are also broken down further by other breeders who did well with a particular strain, which in turn had a version of that strain named after them. A good example of this would be the Kelso fowl. The original Kelso was named after Walter Kelso, but one of the most well known breeders that did well with them was Johnny Jumper. This is where the Jumper line of Kelso originated. Most strains have several well-known bloodlines that other breeders have made famous. I know it sounds confusing, but these are all considered American games, but they have been broken down further based on their performance in the pits. Now days, most of the originators of these lines are long gone, but they are still called by these names, and an experienced gamefowl enthusiast knows that if they have a certain strain, it will have the correct look, and performance attributes of the original line it was named after. A few more examples of this are: Marsh Butchers, named after Phil Marsh; Sweaters, named after Herman “Sweater” McGinnis, who got his nickname from one day in 1926, the temperature dropped considerably, and Herman McGinnis was seen wearing a red knit sweater with buttons down the front. The bottom went to his knees like a dress, and the sleeves were rolled up to elbows and were bunched up as big as a football. About all you could see was a face, two hands, and two feet sticking out of a red sweater. Immediately people around him would say, ” Come here, Sweater” and the name just stuck; Lacy Roundheads, named after Judge Ernest Lacy. There are also other strains that their names came from certain circumstances, or a particular color. Some examples of these would be: Nigger Roundheads due to their dark feathering; Whitehackles got their name from being a red hackled fowl that if you lifted the hackle feathers, they were white underneath; Bumblefoot Grey fowl got their name from their color, and how these birds were raised in a very rocky area, and showed up at the pits with damaged feet from this on a regular basis. As you can see, there are many different strains of American games, and I only touched on a very small percentage of the most well known ones, but this should give you more of an understanding on how the different strains were created.

Game hen with chicks

Breed Comments/Experience:

American gamefowl are some of the hardiest birds that you will ever come across, and in my opinion, by far the most beautiful. They are known most for being excellent flyers, very good foragers, and you can’t beat them for broodiness. All of these traits make them an excellent choice for free ranging, until the stags come of age, then they will need to be separated, as they will fight to the death defending their territory. This is something that is part of their nature, being “game”, and nothing you do to them will change this unless you start mixing non-game breeds into them, and even then it doesn’t mean you will not still have this issue to deal with. This is why you see many people keep mature cocks on tethers attached to barrels, as it is a great way to keep them separated, and at the same time, allow them to move around enough to keep them happy and healthy. It is also common practice to dub cocks tight to the head, and remove the ear lobes and wattles as well. This practice was originally done for the pit, but now it is done for purely aesthetic reasons. Hen’s lay mid-spring to late summer, but some will continue until early fall. As a rule, games are normally easily handled birds, and are a joy to own. I highly recommend at least a pair of these birds in every yard.

Young stag and pullet



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.


The Madagascar Game and Ga Noi

Dr. Charles R H Everett

Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities

I am certain this article will ignite a spark of resistance to my conclusions concerning the Madagascar Game or Malgache and the Ga Noi; however, I’ve never run from controversy before. Thus, I’m not afraid to at least place the wood on an already burning ember. It is my contention that these two breeds of fowl are actually one in the same. In this article I intend to prove this point, as well as give some insight into the breeding and preservation of the Madagascar. These fowl also present the American/Canadian preservationists with unique challenges. Many preservationists would place these fowl in both the rare and heritage categories. Indeed, they are very ancient breeds of fowl. However, their rarity is a matter of debate. Provided they are essentially the same breed of fowl, then their rarity is only a matter of the ethnicity of the preservationist. If you happen to be an American/Canadian of Vietnamese decent, then these fowl are anything but rare. On the other hand, if you are of any other ethnic background, then the acquisition of these fowl borders on the impossible.
The Ga Noi’s beginnings are shrouded in mystery as is the Malay from which they are derived. What we do know is that the Malayoid fowl has been present in Southeast Asia for millennium. At some point, it seems that a semi-naked Malayoid fowl mutation appeared in the area of the Indochina Peninsula. From an historical point, we know that there was extensive trade between the Peninsula, Madagascar, and Reunion Island. According to modern historical researchers, Madagascar, though located off the African coast, seems to have been settled by people from Southeast Asia between 100AD and 500AD. Thus, there is a direct link between the Indochina Peninsula, and Madagascar.
It is probable that the Ga Noi, and the Madagascar Game are the same breed based upon the following criteria:

(1) The historical link between these two areas as noted in the paragraph above.

(2) Both are Malayoid fowl. This is noted in their height and in the comb types: strawberry and pea-combs. There are not single comb specimens.

(3) Both possess the same basic type. For example, both posses the three curves of the Malay fowl.

(4) Both carry the same naked zones: neck, inner-thighs, and sometimes the breast.

(5) Both fowl show a dewlap.

(6) Both breeds produce fowl that may or may not have wattles.

(7) Both fowl owe there continued existence to the pit.


Both modern and older poultry writers acknowledge the relationship between these two fowl,  including the noted author Carlos Finsterbusch in Cockfighting All Over The World, and Horst Schmudde in Oriental Gamefowl. Horst Schmudde even goes so far as to say that the best Madagascars are to be found in Vietnam (Schmudde 2005, 34)! This is, no doubt, a reference to the Ga Noi.
My first acquaintance with these fowl came when I ventured in 2000 to Cambodia. On this trip, I noticed the naked neck Malayoid fowl that was used on nearly every corner for a cockfight. These fowl were pitted against one another naked heel; that is, the cockers did not use any type of steel gaff on their fowl. These tall, well muscled fighters were quite fast despite their weight, which often exceeds 10 lbs. The fighting cocks would first meet in the air, heels flashing as each hit seemed to be aimed for the head. Later, when I actually held my first mature cock, I came to understand why they were “head-hunters.” There massive well developed breast muscles are an almost impenetrable body amour. From this initial encounter, I became convinced that I must have one of these ancient warriors. To further add to my knowledge and desire for the naked neck Malayoid fowl, Craig Russell wrote an intriguing article entitled ‘Madagascar Games’ which appeared in the SPPA Bulletin 2003, 8(1):4.
In the fall of 2005, I traveled from my home in South Carolina to Richmond, Virginia to meet with Craig Russell. He had graciously agreed to bring me Cubalayas from the John Castignetti line, and Madagascar Games. That first Madagascar trio included a black red cock, a blue hen, and a black hen. From this small beginning, I have developed a nice flock of birds. Incidentally, in the fall of 2006, Craig had a predator attack on his flock and lost all his remaining Madagascars. So, at the Indianapolis Show, I returned his original birds back to him. This in itself should give us all motivation to share our stock with others. None of us knows when we may be hit by a disease, predator, or natural disaster which causes us to lose our stock. By sharing with others, we can have a place to return too should something happen to our valuable and rare breeds of fowl.
Of the original trio I received from Craig, the cock-bird was strawberry combed, while the females were pea-combed. He and I talked countless times concerning a possible Standard. Finally, I decided that I must write some sort of Standard by which I intended to breed my birds. (This Standard is included at the end of this article). Since the breed is Malayoid in type, I believe that the strawberry-comb is to be preferred. On examining the birds that resulted from the breeding of Craig’s birds, and pictures of those online, particularly, I decided that I needed to breed for a taller bird. So, in 2007 I bred my Madagascars brother to sister, and I also bred the black red Madagascar cock to a wheaten Malay hen. From these two matings I chose the largest pullets and stags which displayed the greatest degree of nakedness. Personally, I do not care for the ‘bow-tie’ on the neck. However, I really do like those that are naked from the beak, all the way to the vent, with nakedness on the inner thighs as well! To distinguish the Madagascar from a simple naked neck Malay, I have also chosen to always choose breeders that display a dewlap, and well developed wattles.
The choice to cross with a standard Malay was simple enough: type, size, and relatedness. What I also received was hybrid vigor! The Madagascar hens are not very good layers at all. In keeping count of the egg laying ability of my pure-bred hens, I have found that I can expect between 25 and 40 eggs annually. Now, that is not a lot by anyone’s standard! My Malays, on the other hand, lay quite well, despite their reputation. Generally, they lay between 60 and 100 eggs each a year. With the combination of the two, in one very Madagascar looking bird, I have increased the laying ability of the Madagascar hen to closer to 70 eggs annually. This is going to be useful in producing more chicks from which I can cull severely in my hopes of producing a better bird. Granted, this hybrid vigor can be easily lost. However, by running two lines, one pure-bred Madagascar, and the other the Madagascar/Malay cross, I should be able to maintain the vigor to and acceptable level.
In maintaining the two lines, I plan to breed as follows. The pure-bred line will be kept pure, always choosing stock that is tall, vigorous, strawberry-combed, and naked in the correct zones. In the cross line, I plan to use only hens bred back to a different cock from the pure-bred line; choosing the hens as already noted in the pure-bred line. After several generations (probably five), I will bred these lines opposite, with the cock bird coming from the cross line for the hens of the pure-bred line; while I then inbred the cross line as I did previously with the pure-bred line. This crisscross and inbreeding has been utilized by cockers for centuries, and is quite effective in producing Standard fowl.

Currently, the Madagascar Game has not been standardized in the United States or Canada. Its use as a show fowl is limited both by the small numbers in the hands of fanciers, and its inability to compete for prizes at the shows. It is also now illegal to fight fowl in all fifty states. Since the two primary reasons for keeping non-commercialized fowl are out of reach, is there another use for the Madagascar Game? Absolutely!
The Madagascar Game has a well developed, dare I say broad, or double breast. It is not as tall as our standard Malay, and seems to not have the leg problems often seen with the Malay. At six months of age, a young Madagascar cockerel should weigh in the neighborhood of 8 lbs. Nearing maturity, a cock should weigh no less than 12 lbs. In contrast, a Malay cockerel will weigh only around 5.5 lbs. at six months. A  mature Malay cock will weigh 9-10 lbs. So, the Madagascar Game gains weight more rapidly than the Malay, without the pronounced leg problems.
Several years ago, I began keeping records of the weight gain of the different rare breeds that I keep. Naturally, I noticed that both the rare, and heritage breeds tend to be slower growers than their modern cousins. Among the rare and heritage breeds that I keep, I discovered that the French Marans had the most rapid weight gain, followed closely by the English Sussex. In the spring of 2007, I crossed a Madagascar Game cock to several large Marans hens. This cross was made simply to produce birds for the table. Realize that I had no desire to produce a broiler, with this one cross, that would compete with the modern broiler. The modern broiler is the result of genetic research garnered over the past 50 years. I am not so naïve, nor so arrogant as to believe that I have a miracle on my farm that can surpass hard work and research. I simply wanted to apply the basic rules of hybrid vigor, with my purebred stock, to produce a meat bird, without leg or heart problems, that I could hatch myself. The cross produced a bird with a wider breast than the Marans, but not as wide as the Madagascar. The bird grew more rapidly than the Madagascar, and only slightly slower than the pure-bred Marans. Overall, I was pleased with the result. The birds were slaughtered at 16 weeks, and weighed between 4.5 and 6.5 lbs. The weight differences of the birds, reflect the basic difference between the males, and females. These birds were raised on 18% chick starter and forage. It might be possible to have better weight gains on a higher protein feed, but that is not available to me, nor would I run the risk of leg and heart problems, which often results from feed with a protein content that is too high. The meat was finely textured, with an excellent taste.

The Madagascar Game is, at the very least, a close cousin to the Ga Noi Don of Vietnam. For all practical purposes, it is the same breed, that has either been bred with less selective pressure than the Ga Noi, or it has been bred with a slightly different approach in selection. Though rare among fanciers in the United States and Canada, the bird is quite prolific in numbers among ethnic Vietnamese in America. With no current standard, the bird is not likely to be seen at any local, or national shows. An excellent use of the Madagascar is in the production of a broiler bird, when crossed with another rare, or heritage dual purpose breed. The Madagascar provides a wider breast than is seen in our dual purpose breeds. For most of us who grew up with grocery store chicken as the basic rule of thumb, this wider breast is eye appealing and appetizing. The hybrid vigor produced by the cross of the Madagascar and a traditional dual purpose breed is an economical advantage without having to resort to the purchase of the modern broiler.

Tracing the movement of heritage and rare breeds, can be an exciting adventure, if you don’t mind the time it takes to track down individuals through phone calls, and emails. The movement of the Madagascar Games is a microcosm in the study of fowl within the United States. Craig Russell obtained his original stock of Madagascar Games from an anonymous source from Georgia. More than likely, the source was a cockfighter, who knew that he could share stock with Russell without the worry of seeing them show up in the pit against his own stock in the future. In turn, Craig Russell sent some of his Madagascar stock to Bulletin Editor; Ed Hart. After a couple of years, Ed shared his stock with another SPPA member, Orrin Jones of Kansas City. Eventually Orrin sent stock to Ideal Hatchery, which they used as their seed stock with the breed. Consequently, if you purchase Madagascar Game stock from Ideal hatchery, you are receiving the same genetic pool which I have been working with as the basis of this article.


Proposed Standard for Madagascar Game/Malgache
Dr Charles Everett
(This Standard represents only a broad basis for type in the Madagascar. It also represents only the opinion of the author).

Cock 12 lbs.
Hen 8 lbs.
Cock 28-30 inches
Malayoid; Three curves of the standard Malay
Naked Zones:
Head except for the top
Neck (bow tie acceptable)
Inner thighs
Entire Breast and underside maybe be devoid of feathers (a desired trait)
Exposed skin is Red. (Black skin is also seen).
Though a disqualification in all other breeds of fowl, the
Madagascar is Crow Headed.
In Madagascar, pea or strawberry comb is seen. I have bred only
strawberry comb.
Pronounced and large
Noticeable and large
Carried high and over the saddle feathers
Slightly below horizontal to drooping (whipped)
Notes on Color Patterns:
Color patterns seemed to be based on both black red and wheaten.
Leg Colors: Yellow with gray, Gray, Willow



By Julia Keeling

The Shamo is a naked heel game bird from Japan.  The breed was originally brought into Japan from Thailand in the seventeenth century – the name referring to Siam, the old name for Thailand. In Japan it was developed into a distinctive fighting bird of courage and ferocity.
Its posture is very upright, with prominent shoulders, powerful bone structure, muscular athletic build and sparse hard feather, which all together make it an impressive and striking bird.
The term ‘Shamo’ covers all examples of the large fowl, but they can be further divided by weight into Chu Shamo (adult male weight above 3kg/6.6lbs) and O Shamo (adult male weight 4kg/8.8lbs and above). There is a huge weight range in this breed – from a little hen of 4.9lbs to a huge cock of 12lbs or more.
Breeders in Japan name their own lines after themselves or their areas, but names such as ‘Makino’, ‘Osaka’, ‘Teramoto’ etc, often used in Europe, have no relevance once the line has left Japan. Different conditions, breeding choices and breeders mean that they should not continue to carry such names. All are Shamo.
The breed can be found throughout Japan and although occasionally shown they are kept there primarily as fighting birds, with character and attitude being the vital attributes. Cockfighting is legal in Japan, although betting on the outcome is not.
Colour is of no importance in this breed, although the plumage colour most commonly seen is black/red (bbr) and variations; beak – yellow or horn; legs and feet – yellow (with blackish over-colour being normal in some dark coloured birds); face – red; and eyes silver or gold.



The main thing to remember when keeping Shamo is that they should mature slowly. A bird of either sex is not adult until about two years old. The stag of ten months will look a different bird after another year. The problems this can bring are:
• The bones can develop slower than the body mass, so if the bird is fed too much protein and/or does not have enough fresh air and exercise as he grows, his body will get too heavy for his legs and result in serious leg problems.
• For the same reason, the breastbone can become bent if a young bird rests on too narrow a perch, and the legs and feet can become damaged from jumping down from too high a perch. Adult birds continue to need wide perches to accommodate long legs and bodies.
• Stags and pullets can run happily together when young, but as soon as they start to mature, maybe as late as seven or eight months old in bigger birds, they can turn on each other. Stags and pullets can quickly kill each other.
So – low protein food and lots of fresh air and exercise; wide, low perches, or none at all; and vigilance at all times re separating birds as soon as necessary.

Despite the aggressive, arrogant bearing, they should be calm and confident with their keepers and easy to handle. The aggression should only be towards other birds. Birds may well occasionally greet their keeper with a ‘friendly’ peck, but this is certainly not man-fighting!



Shamo take so long to mature that it doesn’t really matter what time of year they are hatched. They will eventually reach their potential, even if they develop slowly over the winter.
Shamo are a broody breed, but as hens are heavy and bony they can be clumsy with eggs. Usually better to remove eggs and let another hen hatch them.
Running loose, a hen and cock can have their own space and live in harmony. However, if confined, they may fight. More than one hen with a cock may well fight each other, as well as it then being impossible to maintain accurate breeding records if not breeding one to one. Even if they live in apparent harmony, a heavy cock may seriously damage a hen with his spurs/claws. She should be examined regularly under her wings as she will show no signs of being hurt until wounds are really serious or become badly infected.
This is a breed developed to fight and it is the most important characteristic of the breed, and this is what they will do!


China Game Fowl

1930’s circa photo (courtesy of Toni-Marie Astin)

The China (Chinese) Game Fowl are truly a magnificent breed in their own. They sport massive tail feathers in length as well as height and saddles that drag the ground. These are also of aggressive behavior, however seem to show the intelligence of tactical defense as well as breed personality. They appear to be showing great vigor and disease resistance as well, producing chicks in numbers that hatch off quite well with little to no problems. These fowl, originating from China, were brought to the states in the early 1930’s. Mr. Herman Pinion had Chinese Immigrants who worked on his farm and these were their birds. It is not unheard of that these were also crossed to Mr. Pinion’s own American Game Fowl, creating some which had pea comb and long tails and saddles. The China Games come in a variety of colors and weigh in the range of 6-8lbs depending on conditioning. The usually have a pea to cushion comb and pearl to white legs. In the last year I have been hatching off mostly goldens, silvers, red pyles, some mahogany and several recessive whites. The hens are good layers of medium sized eggs that are usually white to cream colored and males showing great fertility levels as well as the hens. My intentions are to preserve this breed back to “saddle draggers” as well as keeping the game state. Selections for such type as well as pea comb birds with light colored legs will be my focus in the future. I am still trying to obtain information on these birds through international contacts to research their origin. So far all is inconclusive, but will keep up on the quest.

My  Old Grey Broodcock(in moult)


Raising Saipan Jungle Fowl

There is not a ton of information out there on this breed, so I thought I would share what I have learned.  If you have experience with these beautiful birds, feel free to leave a comment telling me what you know!  First off, about the only history I can find, I have posted on my wikipedia HERE.  The following is what I have observed over the last couple of years of raising them.

First off, let me say that I don’t have pure Saipans, and practically nobody can say they do either.  There are hatcheries that sell them, but they are mostly shamo, or malay crossed birds.  True Saipans are almost non-existent.  What I describe is what I have experienced with the fowl I have, which are the closest I have been able to come up with, I just wanted to be clear on that right up front.

The main thing that Saipans are known for are their sheer size.  Roosters can cock out nearly three foot tall, and closing in on 18 pounds!  Mine aren’t quite that big, but I am working on it.  Saipans are also very slow growing birds, it takes about 3 years for them to fully mature. These birds have a degree of gameness to them, but not known to be overly game.  If they have been raised together, even roosters have been known to be able to tolerate each other if they aren’t too cramped.  Saying that, if you separate them, including the hens, and try to put them back together again, expect the game to show up in them.  I have seen hens that were willing to fight to the death when new birds are introduced.  The roosters also have a reputation for being manfighters, but the hens are quite docile to people.

As far as laying and hatching, they lay medium sized, cream colored eggs in the spring to early summer, then pretty much quit laying after that.  They will go broody, but from what I have seen, aren’t the best for caring for chicks afterward.  Part of the problem is the chicks off these larger birds mature very slowly as well, and it takes quite a while for them to grow feathers.  I have seen many a baby rooster running around with all the yellow fuzz off him, and only a couple of wing feathers on his whole body!  Saying that, that is how you can easily sex these birds as the hens will feather out much faster than the roosters, so it is pretty easy to sex them once they start feathering out.  If you want any kind of success raising these birds, I recommend leaving them in a brooder for the first 8 weeks of their life minimum, because the feathering factor makes them quite delicate.

Feeding Saipans can be a challenge too as they are very susceptible to crop impactation, so whole grains need to be avoided.  You also need to watch your protein levels very carefully as too much protein can give you problems because of the size of the birds, and how slow they grow.  I know some people feed their Saipans, and other large Oriental breeds rice, and fish as their staple diet.  I haven’t had trouble using standard poultry feed, I just watch their body development, and adjust accordingly.

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