Since its inception, the concept of “gamefowl” has evolved significantly. It all started with fighting chicken, pitting two poultry contenders against each other. Cockfighting was always meant for entertainment, but to the chickens, it was an unfair sport, like gladiators (glorified slaves) making their name in packed arenas.
Today, breeders still breed gamefowls but rather than fight to the death in dingy cockfighting pits; these roosters are making appearances in state fairs and chicken shows.
But which are some of the best cockfighting chicken breeds? We found 7 prominent gamefowl breeds that are worth talking about. But before we get into the thick of things, here’s an important note from us at Chicken Scratch.
Note: Even though this article is a showcase of the best gamefowl breeds in the world, Chicken Scratch does not endorse cockfighting in any way or form. We think it’s a controversial sport that belongs in the past. Gamefowls should be celebrated for their beauty and physique rather than their talent for violence.
With that said, let’s get it!
7. Malay Gamefowl
If you were to squint your eyes while looking at the Malay Gamefowl, you’d think that you were looking at a reincarnated T-rex. Those long sturdy legs, the tall neck, and a posture that resembles that of a standing human than it does a chicken.
And that’s not even half of it; the Malay Gamefowl is officially the tallest chicken breed in the world. This remarkable chicken breed can stand up to around 2.5 feet tall. There are even individuals that reach or slightly exceed this average height.
Seeing and understanding a Malay chicken entails learning about the bird’s past as a fighting chicken breed. It is not to be mocked with its muscled, powerful legs, cherry comb, tightly kept, firm feathering, tiny wattles, furious gaze, and bent, sharp bill.
Even their noises are unusual! Rather than a tranquil cluck, these chickens produce a roaring-like sound. As you might assume from a bird native to Southeast Asia, they are very tolerant to heat.
Although there is almost nothing to say about a Malay hen’s laying capacity, their instincts as a dedicated parent are accurate when they manifest. The hens may be unable to cover numerous eggs because of their tightly kept feathering, but you can be certain the hens will protect the chicks they hatch with passion. Always make sure that the roosters are away from their young – they tend to be harsh to their own chicks.
Even though these chickens can tolerate extremely hot seasons without ruffling their feathers, the same attitude cannot respond to cold. Malay chickens lack the feathering necessary to survive freezing weather.
Additionally, their limited genetic pool in the United States makes finding a resilient Malay chicken rare. Though they are very robust as adults, the chicks are pretty delicate.
These chickens have a rich history of being employed as fighters, and although cockfighting is largely discouraged and illegal in many places today, their combative spirit remains.
For Malay chickens, the optimum combination is one rooster and one to two hens. Ultimately, the Malay chickens will remain uncontained. Even if they are too heavy and big to fly, they do not accept confinement and need an open, wide range to live a healthy existence.
6. Modern Game
When the British Government banned cockfighting in 1849, breeders responded by developing another gamefowl; surprising, isn’t it? But this new breed plays within the lines of the law. If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re talking about the Modern Game chicken breed.
With the Modern Game, breeders would continue in their craft, but their creations were meant for exhibitions, such as chicken shows, rather than fighting pits. The densely packed feathers of the Modern Game found favor among judges at chicken shows, and winners took home handsome prices.
Regarding the breed’s appearance, the Modern Game looks velociraptor with the legs of a greyhound; confusing, I know. But hear me out; this chicken has a compact frame with a long neck and equally stretched legs.
The modern game chickens come with a staggering variety of feather colors. There are over 13 recognized color variations in the U.S. alone; imagine the kaleidoscope that’s out there. There are Modern games with dark legs, those with yellow legs, and even varieties with devilishly red eyes. They are also low-maintenance chickens that demand less in terms of feed.
The Modern Game Fowl needs plenty of activity and space to run about to maintain excellent shape. They’ll be a hoot to watch as their little bodies bob over their long skinny legs.
The modern game chicken does have a longer, slender neck and an erect stance. This sleek build is well complemented by the chicken’s densely-packed feather coat.
As for the combs and wattles, those vary from dark red to purple shades. Skin color also varies along these lines.
Although their feathers are dense and their combs are tiny, this does not imply they are adequately protected from the cold. These birds can suffer harsh winters, so keep them in warmer climates.
It should be noted that some Modern Game enthusiasts cut the chickens’ combs and wattles, a controversial practice is known as “dubbing”, to emphasize the bird’s long, slender form.
5. American Gamefowl
This breed of fighting chicken, the American Gamefowl, might be the nearest you could get to thinking what chickens were really like. These chickens are vividly feathered and ferocious survivalists and have a complex history as a fighting breed.
The term “gamefowl” indicates that these birds are wilder than the average chicken. At the same time, breeds such as the Broiler have mostly forgotten anything about surviving. The Gamefowl is an exceptional brooder and forager.
If you’re searching for a competent, confident, prevailing, and clever fowl that can take good care of its own, this stunning chicken may be the perfect addition to your backyard chickens.
Additionally, numerous breeders are repurposing the breed as attractive displays or ornamental birds.
Their magnificent plumage and imposing stature definitely merit appreciation. Agile, majestic, and ferocious, the cocks of this breed are highly territorial, which reflects their past role as fighting chickens.
Due to the innate, belligerent nature of cockerels or often referred to as stags, their keepers usually recommend that they be removed from the flock when it reaches maturity for their protection and the welfare of some other male chickens around.
The American Gamefowl is among the most aesthetically pleasing chicken breeds. They are available in an array of colors. Red-brown, Gold-yellow, Red quill, Black, White, and Black-red are the most frequent colors of this breed.
Their combs come in pea comb or single configurations, as well as combinations of the two. They have red earlobes, combs, and wattles in the majority of color variations. Hens lay medium-sized eggs that are white or cream. They also have brooding periods and make excellent, caring moms.
The American Game chicken is a stunning breed that is remarkably resilient. They are very energetic, loud, and intolerant of restraint.
If several cocks are owned and maintained, you must take extra care to ensure the chickens can never reach one another. Additionally, hens can be hostile against other hens. This scene mainly happens if some new hens are joining the flock.
The Shamo is an Asian Fighting Chicken Breed; they are tall, muscular, and athletic. Shamo chicken breed originated in Thailand but were extensively maintained and actively developed for strength and stamina in Japan beginning in the early 1600s Edo era.
Artwork from Japan’s older ‘Heian Period’ (794–1185 AD) portrays fowls comparable to Shamos. Shamo chicken are designated as National Monuments in Japan and regarded as an integral component of the country’s national heritage. Two categories and fifteen kinds of chicken are protected by the 1941 Japanese National Monument law to prevent the extinction of such historical animals.
The Shamo rooster is a big, robust, powerful, and muscular chicken breed; ideal for cockfighting. Even though outlawed in many parts of the world, the bloody sport is still legal in Japan and other neighboring Asian countries. The Japanese also have a tradition of eating the Shamo chicken that loses the battle.
The meat of a Shamo still serves as a national delicacy, like a Shamo Pot for the military. During the 19th century, Sumo wrestlers consumed Shamo meat with the idea that it would make them more combative and likely to succeed in sumo matches.
Despite its reputation as a fighting chicken breed, the Shamo chicken is also recognized as the world’s second-tallest chicken breed, trailing only the Malay chicken. Shamos are big and tall chickens with almost vertical body postures.
They have muscular thighs and a thick, broad physique. They have feathers that are densely packed and frequently do not fully wrap their bodies. They have broad, strongly boned shoulders. They are larger and less sleek than an Asil chicken and lack the Malay chicken’s accentuated contours.
The Shamo chicken’s tails are short and usually follow the backline as it slopes downhill toward the ground. They feature a tiny, brilliant red pea comb, and their earlobes are tiny and reddish in hue.
Their wattles are likewise bright red but are very tiny; their beak and legs are yellow in the shade. Additionally, their eyes are pearly in hue. The color of the plumage varies according to the color variety.
Shamo chickens are similar to Asil chickens. Generally, they are simple to handle, and the hens are very docile. However, roosters may be hostile and territorial against one another. Even hens have the potential to be hostile against other hens.
Additionally, fighting amongst young chicks is a concern. The separation must be done by roosters from other roosters to prevent them from fighting and dying. The hens have superior egg layers compared to many other Asiatic fighting chicken breeds; they lay light brown, medium-sized eggs.
3. Old English Game
The Old English Gamefowl, as the name implies, is one of the oldest fighting chicken breeds. This breed of chicken has a history back to the oldest cockfighting fowls dubbed “the Pit Game,” introduced to Great Britain by the Romans in the 1st century.
And also, the breed was spotted in Great Britain after the 19th century. The breed mainly remained unchanged for the past thousand years. The Old English Game sells for a premium price and has a high value for poultry producers.
Nowadays, chicken breeders keep this breed of chicken for poultry shows and exhibitions and improve the stock. But historically, typical Old English Gamecocks were raised for cockfighting reasons, cockfighting became illegal and a crime in Australia and Great Britain in the 1850s, and the Old English Gamefowl is now often reared only by chicken hobbyists.
Nowadays, people produce Old English Game chicken primarily for poultry shows and exhibitions or ornamental reasons. The old English gamefowl breed is available in a variety of colors. The Old English Game chicken breed is also available in bantam size.
Seeing an Old English gamefowl is like witnessing bravery, power, and a combative spirit in the form of a bird; they are often called OEG. They are unmistakably stunning to see with their erect stance, strong, shiny plumage, and wide challenging shoulders.
Cockerels are an actual rainbow of colors, with specialists identifying several 30 distinct feather colorings. If you’re searching for an elegant, luminous-colored rooster with creole feathers and a shiny silver duck wing, an old English gamefowl will offer you everything you’re looking for in a chicken.
This breed is very resilient and self-sufficient, clever, superb food searcher, and well-equipped with their skills; these chickens are comparable to pheasants for their superior survival instincts. Old English gamefowls are utterly content to free-range in any weather and would choose to sleep in a tree if provided the chance! If you ever put them in a coop, they will want to roost as high as possible.
Additionally, they have the longest average life expectancy of any chicken breed. Owners of Old English Game Hen Fowl have reported chickens living to be 15 years old.
2. Sumatra or Sumatera
The Sumatra chicken breed was initially rooted in the Sumatra Island of Indonesia. This chicken now serves as a decorative chicken breed, and growers primarily raise them for show and exhibition grounds.
Traditionally, inhabitants of Indonesian Island would capture Sumatra roosters at the start of the mating season, use them in battle, and then release them after their seasonal hostility subsided.
Today, the seasonal element of the Sumatra chicken is still a feature of the breed.
The breed is most likely the outcome of a mix between untamed Ayam Kampong chickens and species of wild chickens. The Sumatra chicken was first introduced to the United States and Europe in 1847 to intend cockfighting games.
It is one of the earliest breeds in existence and is recognized by the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection. Now, chicken enthusiasts are breeding Sumatra chickens primarily for aesthetic purposes. The Sumatra chicken breed is ranked on the Conservation Priority List of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as Endangered or Critical.
Sumatra chickens are a stunning breed with stunning feathers and coloring. It is a unique chicken that resembles less farm poultry than other fowl. Its character is more akin to that of a wild game fowl than it is to domestic poultry. Sumatra chickens have such a tiny pea comb with bright red color and have tiny earlobes and wattles.
Their toes up to the legs are entirely black, but their skin is yellowish. The roosters have noticeable glossy emerald black feathers and elegant bearings. Yet, some color variants are also available now in a variety of hues.
The roosters’ tails are long and flowing, covered with a profusion of long, smooth feathers held horizontally. Although other colors are widely available, only black Sumatras are allowed in the standard.
Sumatra chickens are very energetic, attentive, excellent flyers, and superb jumpers. The adults and even the chicks are very resilient, but it is a breed that is relatively easy to manage. Roosters are generally not hostile against other chickens, but they can become combative toward chickens during mating season.
Though roosters might compete for supremacy, they seldom fight to the death. Sumatra chickens do not lay a lot of eggs. They lay white eggs of medium size. However, the chickens make excellent winter layers. Additionally, they are excellent broodies and caring moms. Sumatra chickens need a significant amount of space and do not thrive well in restraint.
1. Asil or Aseel
If you ever wanted a chicken that would be on your side in a battle, it would be no other than the robust Asil chicken. Not only will the roosters, even the hens, and young chicks battle others with endurance and power. The Asil is a highly ferocious fowl; even the young chicks can be hostile.
With a ferocious appearance, a notably high posture, and power lifter-like massive muscles, this chicken tells you that it is prepared to defend itself against any possible danger.
However, this vibrantly colored, intelligent breed is very attentive and docile around humans. It will also thrive in most climates as a free-ranging chicken with its tiny comb and gamefowl survival skills.
Like their male equivalents, Hens are also aggressive and will fiercely protect their young from any danger, even snakes.
This chicken is not for beginners; If you are a novice to chicken rearing or just getting started with small poultry, the Asil will likely be too much for you to manage. Although the roosters seem to be very courteous toward humans, they exhibit no such consideration towards their kind. As with many old fighting breeds, the roosters and even hens may need separate space or lodging from others.
Asil chickens are skilled fighters and very adept in combat. The roosters have a broad and very attractive chests. Their physical shape is excellent, and they generate tremendous strength. Their neck and legs are very lengthy in comparison to other popular fighting chicken breeds. Asil hens are poor egg layers, they lay a low number of eggs, and their eggs are also relatively tiny.
There are many Asil chicken varieties available. Feathers come in various colors, including red, black, mixed, or multicolored, with a tiny pea comb. The majority of Asil chicken breeds are large and exceptionally resilient. Diseases and infections are infrequent. In general, a rooster weighs between 3 to 4 kilograms, while a mature hen weighs between 2.5 to 3 kilograms.
Though the hens are seasonal egg layers with low egg production, they make great and protective moms. Hens have a propensity for broodiness and make great sitters and caring moms. The chicks grow more slowly and frequently quarrel with other fellow chicks at an early stage.
Consequently, it will be prudent to keep them apart, or else, if given the opportunity, they would battle to the death. In comparison to other fighting chicken breeds, Asil chicks need more room to develop properly.
Although their reputation as a fighting chicken breed, they are very amicable towards people and are easy to handle. They do not thrive well in cold climes and prefer warm and dry environments. Pure breed Asil chickens are difficult to find nowadays and are believed to be uncommon birds.
How to Raise Fighting Chicken Breeds
Deciding to raise a fighting chicken breed can indeed be a mammoth task. But with the necessary knowledge, information, and skills, you can manage it like a pro. Understanding your breeds is probably the most critical step in initiating the procedure.
Have you chosen whether to raise gamefowl for a business, hobby, or solely for the game? These are crucial issues and facts that you should be aware of before proceeding with breeding or rearing fighting chicken breeds.
When providing your fighting chicken with the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need to boost and maintain their health, it is critical to choose high-quality seeds, maize, grain, and feed.
Once more, understanding your fowl’s specific characteristics and information is essential in this food selection process and is one of the defining elements in the fowl’s overall health and performance.
Cockfighting needs a special diet to preserve the strength and endurance of the cocks bred for this reason. In contrast, common chicken breeds that are kept for food require a different diet to make their meat and eggs better for food and consumption.
Clean drinking water is absolutely vital to all fowl, whether they are fighting chicken breeds or not. It is an essential need for any chicken: an adequate daily supply of clean water. As with nourishment, your fowl’s hydration is dependent on the training or usage you have prepared for them.
Rigorous training consumes less water in one sitting but is provided several times throughout the day. Suppose you are growing your fowl only for food purposes. In that case, your hydration methods will be different from training your chicken for cockfighting or another purpose.
Overall, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the facts and information around the growth of your fighting chicken breeds for whatever reason you choose.
Fighting Chicken Breeds: FAQs
And now, to the internet’s most asked questions regarding fighting chicken breeds, let’s jump in.
What is the Strongest Fighting Rooster?
That title has to go to the Japanese chicken breed, more commonly referred to as Shamo. Standing at a towering 30 inches tall, the Shamo is the second tallest chicken breed on the planet, only shorter than the Malay chicken. But what makes the Shamo a superior specimen is its imposing physique.
What is the Most Expensive Fighting Rooster in the World?
That record is held by a Thai rooster that was sold in Thailand for 1 million Baht (about $28,685). The breed Identity of the rooster is unknown, but the breeder (Charnnarong Chuenjit) said he crossbred a couple of Thai and Myanmar cocks.
You can read more about this fascinating story in this article posted on the Bangkok Post.
What is the Best Color Gamefowl?
It is generally accepted, among chicken breeders, that the Whitehackle gamefowl is the most colorful gamefowl. It has a golden neck and a body that’s peppered with shades of black, blue, and white, a truly breathtaking chicken.
The Whitehackle Gamefowl is a native of the United Kingdom. It was specifically bred for the fighting pits, hence the moniker “Gamefowl.”
Cockfighting is an epic and historical game that dates all the way back to ancient times. It has undergone many alterations and changes throughout the years, which is very apparent.
Apart from the entertainment value of watching the fighting chicken breeds battling to the death, it is important to take extra care of them. Animal welfare and rights are more crucial nowadays than they have ever been. It is vital to look after their well-being and treat them with kindness.
Although cockfighting and some other combat games are fading in popularity due to anti-fighting legislation, all of these fighting chicken breeds on this list above are indeed very appealing.
They will compete well in any competitive performances and shows. While this is not accurately the same situation, it nevertheless offers a valuable purpose for these animals and generates revenue to help offset maintenance expenses.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.