The American Game chicken is a gamefowl with its origins in the US. Originally bred for cockfighting purposes, the American Game has famously been associated with former American political leaders who commonly raised and fought them. This solidified the American Game’s place as a symbol of American entertainment history.
As the sport began to die out, American Gamefowl grew in popularity as show fowl and ornamental birds due to their beauty and diversity.
Quick Facts about American Game
|Breed Name:||American Game|
|Place of Origin:||United States|
|Uses:||Sports (formally), ornamental|
|Rooster (Male) Size:||3.5 lbs approximately|
|Hen (Female) Size:||2.5 lbs approximately|
|Lifespan:||8 – 15 years|
|Climate Tolerance:||Both warm and cold climates|
|Care Level:||Medium, not a beginner breed|
American Game Origins
Bred in the U.S. in the 19th century, the American Game chicken was originally prized for its fighting skills and could be commonly found taking part in the blood sport of cockfighting. Cockfighting and other blood sports, though now considered a crime in every U.S. state, were once staples of American entertainment.
American Game Characteristics
American Game chickens come in a wide range of colors including gold, black, white, blue, pumpkin, and silver duckwing. 10 color variations are currently accepted in Bantam American Game by the American Poultry Association. Their wattles are large in size, as are their earlobes and five-pointed red combs.
If you go to a fowl showing, you may notice that the wattle, comb, and earlobes have been cut off. This is sometimes done either for appearance purposes or to ward off frostbite. American Game chickens hold their tails high and males have sickle feathers.
Temperament-wise, the American Game chicken has a reputation for being somewhat ungovernable. This is unsurprising, given what they were bred for. Both roosters and hens can be equally as proud as they are aggressive and won’t back down from a fight. This is why acquiring American Game chickens may not be the best idea if you’re a complete beginner.
They’re also strong flyers and have a tendency to vocalize—you won’t have to guess if your American Game is unhappy about something, as they’re certain to kick up quite a fuss. Hens can produce around 80 eggs per year on average. Eggs are brown, and medium-sized and are usually laid in spring and summer.
American Game chickens are largely used as show birds and for ornamental purposes. Some people purchase them to adorn their farms and ranches as they make great foragers. Due to their territorial temperament, they like to keep their environment clear of pests and vermin, which can prove particularly useful for farmers and ranchers.
Appearance & Varieties
The American Game chicken is unique in that it’s categorized and defined by its bloodlines (strains). Popular strains in this breed include Albany, Sweater, Whitehackle, Kelsos, and more. It’s common for successful American Game fowl breeders to have strains named after them. Success was usually based on how well the chickens performed in cockfighting.
The smaller American Game chicken, which weighs between 850 g (male) and 650 g (female), is the Bantam American Game. In 2009, the American Game Bantam (the small version of a breed) was first recognized by the American Poultry Association.
The larger or “full-sized” American Game chicken has yet to be recognized in the same way. The Bantam first came about in 1940.
Population, Distribution & Habitat
The American Game chicken is listed under “study” with the Livestock Conservancy. They’re mostly found in the United States where they were bred, but some have been exported to the U.K. In terms of habitat, American Game chickens are a generally hardy breed, but still, need to be kept in a certain environment to keep them out of trouble.
Probably most important of all, American Game chickens need plenty of space to roam. They quickly tire of confinement and will let you know by making a great deal of noise. A coop measuring 50 x 50 x 50 cm per chicken is ideal and it should be well ventilated without being drafty in colder weather. Make sure each chicken in the coop gets their own little bit of space by leaving a bit of room between their boxes.
Are American Game Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?
Not really—American Game chickens are largely ornamental. They also don’t produce that many eggs, so aren’t the best option if you plan to sell chicken eggs. That said, if your plan is to breed American Game chickens, hens make excellent mothers and will even protect the eggs of other hens.
These chickens also aren’t really a good option for beginner chicken owners due to their territorial natures and tendency to be disruptive in flocks, whether with chickens of the same breed or others.
If you have a bit of experience with more aggressive bird breeds, though, American Game chickens are historically and culturally significant and you’ll enjoy watching these proud, beautiful birds flourish in all their splendor.
Featured Image Credit: The Jungle Explorer, Shutterstock