Posts Tagged ‘aseel


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!



By: John Kerr

Prior to the war, my grandfather was a missionary in India. During his time there, one of his achievements was the official recognition for improving the local fowl to become a more viable breed for egg, and table purposes. The common Indian fowl, or Moorgi, was not much use for either! Being very similar to the Red Jungle Fowl, it was decided to try to improve the common village fowl.

The first step was to remove all the native cock birds, and to keep only the largest of the hens and pullets. Then, pure bred cock birds were introduced. The next year, all the cross bred cock birds, and all the original hens were disposed of, and the best of the cross bred pullets were kept. The end of the second year, all cross bred cock birds, and all the first cross hens would be removed, leaving the second cross pullets, which would be run with a new batch of pure bred cock birds. The pure bred cock birds would be changed every two years. As several villages might be in one of these breeding schemes, the birds could be swapped between villages to cut down the cost of importing new stock. Within six, or seven years, the village birds would closely resemble pure bred fowl.
The actual cost of the program could be quite small, the main problems being to ensure that all cross bred cock birds were removed. Any missed birds could set the program back years. The breeds used were the Chittagong (Malay), Rhode Island Red, White Leghorn, or Minorca. Descriptions of these breeds taken from an 1948 Indian Poultry book are:
Malay / Chittagong : These birds are called Malay because they are natives of the Malay Peninsula, and Chittagong, because they are largely bred in Chittagong. They are also called Deang Fowls, as the best specimens are bred in a place in Chittagong called Deang. They are large birds, the cocks reaching two foot six inches from beak to toe, and weigh from 8 lbs – 10 lbs. The hens weigh from 6 lbs – 9 lbs. It should have a small pea-comb, like a soft lump covered with small warts. The head and neck should be long, the beak yellow, the wattles very small and red, and in the hen hardly visible, the ear-lobes small and red, sometimes with a little white, the eyes white or light yellow, eyebrows prominent and overhanging the eyes, making the head look very broad, the neck long and the breast broad and deep, the carriage very upright with broad shoulders, the back sloping gradually to the tail being slightly narrow at the loins. The wings carried high and projecting at the shoulders, the tail small and full, (in the cock it should droop) the legs yellow, straight, long and strong, without feathers, and the plumage very close, firm, short and glossy, with the feathers narrow. There is no fixed standard of colour.
The Minorcas: They are also known as the Red Faced Spanish, and are the in shape and appearance to the Black Spanish. It is possible that the races were originally one, and that the faces were red. The shape is like the Leghorn, but the comb is larger, and there is the red face and the white earlobes and the clean legs. There are two colors, the black and the whites, but the latter are rarley seen. As layers they are one of the best small breeds. weights, cocks 7 lbs hens 5 lbs.

The Leghorns: They are a most useful small breed, and a good layer of large white eggs. There are several varieties, such as whites brown, blacks, mottled buff, and others. Of these the best are the white and the brown, as they lay larger eggs. The comb of the Leghorn cock should be a single, large errect and evenly serrated with five or six wedge shaped spikes. The hens comb should be similar but carried but carried drooping to one side of the head. There are also rose combed Leghorns. The face should be red; the lobes pure white, and with all colours the legs yellow. Weights, 6 lbs hens 4 lbs.

The Rhode Island Red: These originated from a cross between the Brahama, or Langshan, the Chittagong, and the common farmyard fowls of Rhode Island. The mixture of breeds still shows itself in the different types found among these fowls. Some are single comb, and some are rose comb. Some are like the Wyandotte, and some like the Rock in type. The prevailing colour is red, but are also buffs, white, and brown. Their chief value is as prolific layers of large, dark shelled eggs. It is one of the best all round breeds combining both table, and egg laying qualities. They’re very hardy, withstand the damp well, and the chicks are easy to rear. The brighter red has given place to one of almost chocolate color, it seems impossible to get a red too dark. They are inclined to smuttiness in the under color. Smutty birds are necessary to breed from, but are of no use in the show pen. The birds are handsome, and keep their appearance better than most breeds. For the novice, they have much to recommend them as both old breeders, and novices stand a chance of breeding a winner, providing the stock birds are from a reliable source, and are properly mated. The reason for this is the breed is still in the making, and there still a tendency to throw backs. The body should be long, broad, and deep, with the breast carried well forward, and the back flat. Legs and feet should a deep yellow, and show some brown horn color. Color of the male is a rich dark red, with the breast as near top color as possible (both to be well glossed); tail black; wing when open, shows black in both primaries and secondaries. Female coloring should be a rich even shade of deep red throughout, about the color of the males breast; wing and tail markings as the male; neck hackles show a black marking at the base. Single, and rose combs are allowed, but singles are more popular. Lobes should be red, and eyes red. Weights, cocks 8 1/2 lbs hens 6 1/2 lbs.

The breeds recomended for use in India were:

*Largest and most weighty- Brahma, Lhangshan, Orpinton, Australorp, Rock, Chittagong, Wyandotte, Game, Cochin, Sussex, and Rhode Island Red.

*Most hardy – Braham, Langshan, Chittagong, AustraloFp, Wyandotte, Rock, Orpington, Leghorn, Sussex, eochia, Game, R.hode Island Red.
*Table fowl – Aseel, Chittagong, Langshan, Wyandotte, Rock, Orpington, Sussex, Rhode Island .Red.
Eggs – Minorcas, Leghorns, Rhode Island Red,

The eggs of the bantams and Hamburg though small are the best in flavour. Game, Aseels” Rocks, Brahmas~ Orpingtons, Rhode Islands, and the Wyandottes lay the darkest shelled eggs, while the Spanish, Polish and Minorcas are the whitest.

For all purpose fowl the Langshan, Orpington, Wyandotte, Chittagong, Rock, Brahma, Rhode Island Red, Australorp, Minorca, Leghom, and Sussex cannot be beaten.


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