The Shamo is a chicken breed from Japan. In the seventeenth century, the Shamo breed was brought to Japan from Thailand. The Shamo has a unique posture and flashy traits. At 28 inches, Shamo is the second tallest chicken breed in the world, beaten only by Malay chicken. The Shamo chicken was bred to produce fierce fighting birds.
History of Shamo Chickens
The Shamo chicken breed originated in Japan. The breed was created in Japan, but its ancestral line traces back to Thailand. This slender bird was mainly bred to conquer the cockfighting pits of Japan. And conquer it did. The Shamo was such a prolific fighter that it was imported to many regions around the world for its fighting prowess.
Shamo chickens are known as game chickens. Game chickens are specifically bred for cockfighting with other chickens. In Japan, there are multiple types of game chickens, but the Shamo is the best-known game chicken.
To be a great fighter in any discipline, you need strength and endurance. The early breeders of the Shamo realized this and cross-bred their Shamo chicken with birds brimming with these qualities.
As time passed, breeders continued to make the Shamo stronger. This chicken breed has been selectively bred to have the strongest traits for over a hundred years. The breed of Shamo we see today is different from the early Shamo chickens. Some believe they are stronger than the original breed of Shamo.
Selective breeding of the Shamo has evolved over the years. In addition to being bred for cockfighting, the Shamo is also bred for its unique traits. It has a distinct posture and great carcass quality.
There are four varieties of the Shamo that are widely recognized, they include:
- O Shamo
- Chu Shamo
- Nankin Shamo
- Ko Shamo
The term “Shamo” means “large fowl” or “Japan game bird.” Game, in this context, means fighting, remember? For these varieties (mentioned above), the first name describes the size of the Shamo variety. Let me demonstrate.
- O Shamo means large size
- Chu Shamo means medium size
- Ko Shamo means small (Ko is Japanese for child)
But the O Shamo and the Chu Shamo are part of the same breed. In this specific breed of Shamo chickens, there is a range of weights all above seven pounds. The Ko Shamo refers to miniature game birds. The Ko Shamo is not the miniature version of the large fowl but rather a smaller version of it.
The Nankin Shamo refers to the game bird variety from Nankin. They are also known as Bantam chickens.
A name can carry multiple meanings. The name Shamo is an adaptation of the word “Siam.” Siam was the original name of what is today called Thailand. Since the Shamo bird has ancestors in Thailand, its name was derived from their genealogical place of origin. The name of this region was switched from Siam to Thailand in 1939.
The Shamo is a unique bird, and also, sadly, under the threat of extinction, cockfighting did wipe out many birds. The protect the diminishing numbers, watchdog organizations placed the Shamo chickens under protection. Cockfighting is also banned in many countries; I guess, that helps too.
You can find the Shamo thriving in or near Japan. You can also find some in the United States. This elegant bird was imported to the United States around 1874, of course, for gaming reasons.
Each variety of the Shamo is recognized in the United States, and the bird is commonly found in southern states. In the United Kingdom, only the Chu Shamo and O Shamo are recognized.
Shamo Chicken Breed Standard & Appearance
The classification of the Shamo breed is “Asian Hand Feather, Large Fowl. The Malay chicken has the record as being the tallest chicken, but the Shamo comes in second.
The Shamo is a striking, eye-catching bird with tall, sleek stature. It is commonly recognized and identified by its nearly vertical postures. The body of a Shamo chicken is muscular, especially its thighs.
The Shamo features include:
- Closely held feathers
- Hard stiff feathers. Their feathers may not cover their entire body
- Structured broad shoulders
- The Shamo tail is small and slopes downward to the ground
- Bright red small earlobes
- Bright red small comb
- The Shamo has small bright red wattles. In some birds, they are extremely small or missing.
- Both the beak and legs have a yellow color
- The eyes are pearl-colored, but this can vary based on variety.
Each variety of Shamo has a distinct look that sets them apart from other birds. Their unique stature and feather style make them a beautiful species. Red on black is the most common color scheme seen on Shamo chickens. Other color combinations also exist, such as black-breasted and red, wheaten and white, dark or black.
- The Shamo wings are big, short, and strong
- The wings tend to be bony and carried down and close to the body
- Most times, the Shamo will not have their wings showing. They sit firmly on the back of the bird
- The head is broad, deep and has wattles
- Strong beak, curved downwards, and broad
- The beak has no hook
- The eyes have overhanging brows
- On the Shamo chicken, the comb is small or absent
The male Shamo chicken generally weighs in at six pounds or more. The female Shamo typically weighs a minimum of four pounds.
If we were to get specific (variety-wise), the male Chu Shamo weighs at least six pounds and rarely exceeds eight pounds. The female Chu Shamo weighs anywhere between four and six pounds.
In the O Shamo variety, the male weighs at least eight pounds and the female dances above six pounds.
Personality & Temperament
The Shamo chicken is an aggressive bird; I think you saw that coming. The hens may be a little diplomatic with a calm temperament, but the Shamo roosters can be extremely aggressive, especially towards each other.
Remember, the original sole purpose of this breed was to cockfight, and they have aggressive genes in their lineage. The roosters can be territorial. Although the Shamo hens tend to be calm, they can be aggressive toward other chickens.
Not only are the Shamo roosters and hens aggressive, but the baby chicks also pose a considerable threat. The baby chicks fight amongst each other, honing their natural fighting talents.
Even though violence runs in their blood, fighting is not good for Shamo chickens. It can lead to injury, infection, and sometimes death. Fights and brawls, how do you prevent them? Keep the roosters in separate spaces.
If the roosters are kept near each other, they will always fight to the death.
For such an aggressive breed, you’d think the Shamo chicken breed is not safe to be around. Surprisingly, Shamo chickens are well-behaved around adult humans. But you should watch them around children. Shamo roosters tend to be feisty around kids.
Shamo Chicken Egg Laying
Shamo hens lay around 90 light-brown eggs per year, a number which is lower compared to many regular chicken breeds. The number of eggs produced each year can vary based on the variety of Shamo.
Their eggs are typically medium-sized. The Shamo hen has excellent brooding qualities; they make exceptional mothers.
The Shamo hen is particularly heavy, and this poses a problem during hatching. It has been noted that the Shamo hens are clumsy, and this can result in the breaking of eggs. Huh, I didn’t expect that from a violent chicken breed.
It is recommended to observe your Shamo hens; make their living quarters more comfortable and less accident-prone.
They may look skinny, but the Shamo chicken can produce a good amount of meat. You don’t commonly hear of people eating this breed because the meat tends to be tough and lacking in flavor.
Health Issues & Care
The Shamo breed does not have any known health issues. It is recommended that Shamo chicken owners be on the lookout for mites. Poultry mites are external parasites. They land on the skin and feed on the host. Mite attacks on chickens can lead to feather loss and skin diseases.
Mites are stubborn pests, hard to get rid of. And that’s why the best strategy for dealing with mites is prevention; stop the mites before they infest your chicken coop.
Poultry mites can be introduced to your flock in many ways. The common is introducing an infested bird to your flock. Always have a quarantine pen where you can study your new birds before introducing them to the rest of your flock.
Mice, rats, and other rodents can also cause mite infestations. Take the necessary measures against mice. And please, please, disinfect your poultry house from time to time.
Tips for Raising Shamo Chickens
- Note that the Shamo chicken breed is not a common breed. This breed may not be readily available in your area.
- Always keep Shamo roosters separate.
- If you have other chicken breeds, it is important that when you introduce Shamo chickens into the flock, you observe them frequently. Shamo chickens have a dominating presence and tend to overpower other chicken breeds.
- The Shamo chicken loves to roam and free range. You should have a large enough space for the bird that also keeps it separate from other animals
- In terms of coop space, the ideal size is 50 cm x 50 cm of space per bird.
- Shamo birds do not fly; therefore, it is not mandatory to cover the coop.
- Due to their short feathers, the Shamo bird does not have specific grooming needs. A dust bath is sufficient
- Routinely, you should check the Shamo chicken for lice, mites, and other dangerous parasites.
- The natural temperament of the Shamo breed is aggressive, but it can be tamed. It is recommended to start taming the bird early to ensure less aggressive behavior.
- If you plan to keep your Shamo chickens around other animals or humans, you should regularly de-worm the bird
- Shamo chickens like to forage and eat insects.
- They also like food scraps, vegetables, and fruits.
- To ensure good egg quality, laying hens should be given extra calcium and protein.
The Shamo chicken breed is one of a kind. It has a commanding presence with its hot temperament. The tall stature, striking red features, and feather style are but a few of its trademarks of the bird. Although it was originally created for cockfighting, it has evolved into a beautiful show bird.
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 The Foundry.