Posts Tagged ‘rooster


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


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)


Manfighting Roosters!

Manfighters can be a real challenge. If you get a rooster that turns mean on you, and wants to attack you every time he sees you, you have a couple of options. You can try to fix the problem, you can live with it, or you can cull the bird, and have a nice chicken dinner! If you decide to fix the problem, I have listed below some methods to try to straighten him out.

The first thing you need to do, is make sure that you don’t kick the bird away from you, or act aggressive towards him in any way. A good breeder never takes aggressive action against a manfighting rooster, as this will only hurt the situation.

For mild cases, you can sometimes just take a bucket into the pen with you, sit down, and spend time with your birds. You can take treats with you, and work on getting them to eat out of your hand. Then eventually, handling the birds too. When feeding time comes, sit down on your bucket, and spread a little food on the ground next to your feet, and get the birds to come right up next to you to feed. Once they get used to this, start trying to get them to feed out of your hand buy putting small amounts of feed in your cupped hand, and holding it out for them. You can use the treats for this too, like holding an apple for them to peck on. If your rooster comes up to you acting aggressive, talk soothing to him, and gently push him back if he looks like he is going to hit you. As the birds become more used to you, start touching them as you feed them too. The more they are comfortable with your touch, the friendlier they will become. If you get to the point you can pick up the rooster without chasing him, do so, and pet him on his chest, and talk soothing to him. Some people like to wear the thin cotton gloves so they are softer on the bird, and can help them feel more comfortable being held. If this works, all you have to do is keep doing it to keep your fowl friendly.

In extreme cases, you will need to separate the rooster from all other birds, and keep him from seeing them also. Someplace inside where you can keep it dark will help. Place him in this dark room, and leave him there for a couple days or so, without feed, and water, so he is very hungry and thirsty when you see him next time. After this, feed him a small amount of food, and water him. Work with some of the same methods above to get him to eat out of your hand, so you can touch him. You might be surprised how happy he will be to see you after being alone in the dark, and hungry! After a couple of weeks of this, and he responds well, move him to a pen in the light again, and while his is up and alert, put a hen in the pen with him and leave her there. This is like praising him, and he knows you are his friend, and gave him a girlfriend. If you can get this to work, just keep handling him, and working with him, and he might come around. If none if this works, cull him. Good luck!


Nutrtion, Egg Production, and Chicks

By DocMoll

As I sat here thinking about a few things I could post to help some of the younger people that are just starting with fowl. My mind rolled back to late night when a young member asked in the shout box what to feed his fowl to help, or better there nutrition. Well there are several different answers to this, some of which you can get online from several different sites. None of which is wrong for the reasons it worked for them. But I will write on what I did for grandpa when his fowl stopped producing eggs, and the ones that were laid wasn’t fertile.

When I moved back to West Virginia grandpa hadn’t got more then 10 chicks hatched off each year for the last 4 or 5 years in a row. He had asked me if I would try to get them to lay, and get them to hatch at a better rate for him. So the first thing I did, was look at the feed they was getting on a daily basis. Well, it was far from what they needed in my mind, and I adjusted it to fit what I wanted them to get. I went and bought a good mixture of a grain feed that was around 16% protein. In this feed was a little of everything such as corn, sunflower seed, pigeon feed, Milo, dog food, wheat, oats, and so on.

I went the next day and bought several small bags of vitamins with electrolytes, a bag of all-purpose powdered milk, a bag of oyster shells, several bails of straw, a couple bails of hay, and one bag of grit from the local feed store. On the way home I stopped and bought several types of fruits and veggies from the super market. this is what they would receive for there daily feed from now on.

When I got to the house I went to the brood pens and wormed, and deloused all the brood fowl. While I had them in my hands I trimmed the feathers around the vent area on each cock and hen, down to the skin. Then I cleaned out each pen, and put fresh straw about 6″ deep. This is to keep them active digging, and scratching for food. I found enough milk jugs to place to in each pen for the grit, and oyster shells. (Just cut the front of the jug open to where there is about a 3″ to 4″ lip on the bottom.) I mounted them to the walls, so they would stay there and in a fashion to where they could be easily removed to clean when needed. I filled them up with the oyster shells and grit and left them.

Each day I would take some of the hay and place in each pen. Now you got to figure out what each bird needs when it comes to hay, as you don’t want it laying there getting wet. Hay will mold and isn’t good for them at that point. The way I had it running was about a 1/4 of a bat per trio. If it was raining, they didn’t get the hay on them days.

Now back to the feed, and how to feed it. First you need to figure out how much feed you need to feed each day. When you have the answer to that question, you will know what type of bucket you will need to feed this way. Grandpa had several brood pens so a five gallon worked well for me. Each day I would place the amount of feed I needed for the next days feeding in it. I put one cup of the all-purpose powered milk in it, and one big tablespoon of the vitamins with electrolytes. Now soak the feed mixture over night in water. You want it to be moist, not water logged. The best way I can describe the moister in the feed mix is you want it to be as moist as pizza doe. The next day before I fed I would cut up what types of fruits, or veggies I wanted in it, and place them in the mix and stirred it up. I fed this to them one time a day in cups, so they got it all. Now feed them just enough to where they eat it all. You don’t want it setting there all day. If they don’t clean it up in a half hour or so, dump it out on the yard.

Each day take a small amount of grit, and toss it in to each pen to get them to scratching looking for feed in the hay. The object is to keep the active, so they don’t get fat just setting on the roost poles. Fat fowl don’t produce as good as healthy fowl does.

I also built nests to where the hens could get into, so they could hide from the cock in the pen. Several times a cock will aggravate a hen while she is on the nest, and this will cause broken eggs, as well as causing the hen stress that causes a drop in egg production.

With the method above in place I hatched 339 chicks that year out of 350 eggs that were set in the incubator.

If you want to read more from DocMoll, you can at the Ultimate Fowl Forum!


How Game Are You?

By DocMoll

As I set and drink my coffee on this warm morning in late August, I wonder what will happen to the sport I love so much. With Louisiana becoming a illegal, and HSUS pushing to make felons out of each and everyone of us, I fear that most will just destroy, and dispose of the bloodlines that our forefathers worked so hard on to make them what they are today. (I have already seen this happening.) I suppose one has to understand that they are scared of the new laws, but I have heard several of them say, “I’m as game as my fowl” but yet they cowered, sulled, and ran when faced with a long drag fight.

I remember as a very young child moving from the country home in the foot hills of West Virginia to the suburbs of Woodhaven, Michigan. I had to leave all I knew behind, as dad was trying to provide a better life for us. Better was the money and the things he could give to his children, but none of it could fill the void in my heart and mind. I remember asking him, “Where are we going to put the roosters? There is no room for the them here.” He just looked at me with a long face and said, “Son, I’m sorry but we have to forget them for a while.” Well, I couldn’t forget the beauty of the fowl, or the sound of them crowing that I had grown to love. Dad noticed this was weighing heavy on my mind over the next few months, and ordered some gamefowl magazines for me. I guess he thought it might help control my hunger to have them back, but it just fueled the fire in me. I had made up my mind on what I wanted, and I was going to get them…

In the fall of 1973 I heard roosters crowing down the block from where we lived, and off I went in search of them. The crowing was coming from carrying cases in the back of a pick up truck five house down from us. I stayed close, and watched for someone to come out to them. As soon as I saw someone appear from the house, I moved in to ask if they was what I thought they was. The Filipino gentlemen looked at me and asked how I knew what they were, so I told him. This is where I met my life long friend Roger. He owned a small piece of property about 2 miles from where we was, and kept his fowl there, but lived in the same subdivision as I did. Me, my father, and him grew to become very good friends, and I would rush to help him when ever I could, so I could get to where the fowl was.

In 1977, dad bought a small farm in New Boston, Michigan and moved us there. When I got to the new home, there was a trio of Doctor Auther Moll Hatch there waiting for me. Roger had given them to dad for me, and dad had built a pen, and moved the fowl in before he came to get us as a surprise!

Now it is 2008, and that same blood is still on my yard being bred every year. I will keep, and breed this blood till the day I pass from this earth. I guess one might say it is a true passion in my life. I don’t know what it is, but what I do know is I am not giving them up for no one. I have even said to my wife, “They was here before you, and they will be here when your gone!”

You can read more from DocMoll at the Ultimate Fowl Forum!



Basic Feeding for Chickens

Ok, I get questions from people new to chickens all the time on how to feed them. I could write pages on feeding, but the following article will discuss very basic feeding methods.

There are basically 3 age groups of fowl; chick, young fowl, and mature birds. To match these 3 groups there are 3 different feeds; starter, grower, and finisher. (I know, I didn’t mention layer feed, but I will discuss this later) All you need to do is match the feed to your fowl’s age.

Now, what if you have several different age groups of chickens all together? Ok, this is simple, just feed them all the feed you would give the youngest birds in your flock. If you have adult birds with chicks, feed them all starter. If you have adult birds with young fowl, feed them grower.

What about my laying hens, how do I get them the calcium they need? Layer feed has the extra calcium that hens need to lay. The problem is, that the extra calcium is not good for roosters, young birds that aren’t laying, and chicks. The solution to this is to feed them all like I described above, but provide a dish of oyster shells for the hens that are laying. This will allow the hens to get the calcium they need, without the rest of your flock being forced to eat it like they would if you used layer feed.

What about grit? If your birds are on the ground, whether it is free ranging, or in a run, they won’t need grit. If your birds are not allowed access to the ground, you will need to provide grit to them for proper digestion.

What about treats? Treats should not be a regular part of your birds diet, but if you feel you must, try things like green vegetables, grass clippings, and fruits. Corn should be used very sparingly as it is high in fat, and low in nutrition. Corn should not be used in the summer months at all, because it will make your chickens over heat trying to digest it. On the same note though, whole corn is a good supplement in the cold months, because it will help keep your birds warm.

There is much more I could discuss, but this should give you a good place to start if you are new to chickens. You can see more about feeding, and nutritional requirements of chickens at the Ultimate Fowl Forum.



Home Use-Commercial to Heritage

The kind of chickens you want will depend on whether you want meat, eggs or exhibition stock. Most people keep chicken for home use. Hens from breeds and varieties such as Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red, and Single Comb White Leghorn can be used for egg production, but for maximum egg production and the best investment for your use, commercial stock would be the best. Now days, people are choosing heritage breed stock though to get back to the “old ways” thus making improvements and building up numbers where census was low. Not only do you see a liking for regular brown egg layers, but now we are seeing a fancy for the darker egg layers such as the Marans and Penedescenca. They are fast becoming a popular table bird as well. Other heritage breeds such as the Dominique and Black Java are beginning to make a come back as well, since breeders are becoming more motivated by nostalgia. So when you’re thinking of becoming that endearing chicken farmer, consider a wonderful heritage breed.


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