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Modern Game Chicken

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Introduction

If you’re looking for a few new head-turning flock members, the Modern Game Chicken is a real game-changer, pun absolutely intended. Despite a traditional game chickens’ questionable history, these chickens are docile, inquisitive chickens that make charming additions to any small-scale farm.

We have to warn you that the Bantams are more common in standard sizes. Also, you might have a little trouble locating either variety. So, it’s going to depend significantly on your location and the availability of hatcheries near you. Let’s dig into all the details.

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Quick Facts about Modern Game Chickens

Breed Name: Modern Game
Place of Origin: England
Uses: Exhibition
Rooster Size: 8 pounds
Chicken Size: 6 pounds
Color: Varied
Lifespan: 3 – 7 years
Climate Tolerance: Heat-tolerant
Care Level: Easy
Production: Low
Temperament: Curious

Modern Game Chickens Origins

When you see the name Modern Game Chicken, it might strike you that these chickens are most certainly used in cockfighting. Luckily, that is not true whatsoever for this particular breed.

Modern Game Chickens came to be after cockfighting was outlawed and lost traction. As it became illegal in most places, people wanted to create a breed that would mimic the look of the game chicken, upholding its authenticity without the violent drawbacks of having game chickens.

In an attempt to salvage the appearance of game chickens without aggression, Old English Game and Malay chickens were bred together in the 1850s in Britain to create the Modern Game Chickens that we know and love today.

Once developed, these chickens reached peak popularity in the 1900s and went for a very high price. However, because of their lack of utility purposes, they did decline after this point in history. Today many poultry associations are trying to preserve the breed, especially the Bantam variety.

This breed is scarce these days and pretty hard to find. Bantam varieties are often more popular and therefore easier to locate. But you might still have a bit of a challenge, especially depending on where you fall on the map.

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Modern Game Chicken Characteristics

Traditional game chickens are known for their extreme aggression, especially the roosters. But because of the selective breeding to make the Modern Game Chicken, they are not tailored this way. Therefore, you have a pretty well-rounded temperament on these beauties. They might look a little funny, but they mix right in with the rest of the flock with no issue.

One of the prime temperament traits of the Modern Game Chicken is its curiosity. While they might not like being carted around very much, they will probably have no problem coming up to you for a snack or to see what that shiny gem is on your shoe. You might find that they are very receptive and interactive with other animals on the farm and people just the same.

Uses

Modern Game Chickens are bred solely for their looks. Once upon a time, similarly built chickens were used for aggressive cockfighting, but this aggression does not trail in the Modern Games’ bloodline. So, even roosters are generally quite curious and relatively docile but not very functional on the farm.

This ornamental breed is often used in shows rather than on the farm for functionality. Because of their lean body structure, they do not make good meat chickens either because they lack the muscle mass needed to produce suitable market weight.

These chickens are also inadequate layers. Bantams and standard sizes each only lay about one small white egg per week. However, what they lack in production, the hens make up for in broodiness. These hens tend to be extraordinarily broody and willing to hatch eggs that aren’t even theirs.

So, if you’re looking to add a hen to your flock that could enhance chick production, this might be an excellent choice.

Appearance & Varieties

There are differing opinions about the appearance of the Modern Game Chicken. People generally either love how they look or think they look silly and theatrical. They have a unique appearance, touting extremely long legs and upright standing bodies. It’s one of those chickens that you love to hate.

Modern Game Chickens come in both standard and bantam sizes. That means that they are the size of a standard chicken and the miniature versions of themselves.

While they can come in a variety of colors, there are only four recognized by poultry associations:

  • Wheaten
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White

Interestingly, a standard practice for roosters is removing their combs and waddles to provide a very sleek body appearance. This isn’t necessary unless you’re going to show the birds, but it is a breed standard. Both roosters and hens remain upright, giving the appearance of a walking person, for instance.

These chickens have tight feathering, accentuating their sleek bodies. Instead of cascading out like a traditional rooster, the Modern Game Rooster has less of a free-flowing tail that lays nearly horizontally.

Population

The Modern Game Chicken is considered a rare barnyard fowl. It is very uncommon to see any for sale, though standard sizes are harder to come by than their Bantam cousins. We can’t find definitive numbers on exactly how many Modern Game Chickens exist, but the numbers are scarce.

Distribution

Modern Game Chickens have a moderate distribution but are spread out in certain areas. Finding one might prove few and far between. However, with the ease of online shopping, you can always have a hatchery send them to you directly or to a local feed store that carries Modern Game chicks.

Habitat

Modern Game Chickens would be happy to free-range among a flock. However, we have to point out that succumbing to natural predators is a concern because of this chicken’s rarity. As we flock owners know, all it takes is the flash of a second, and your chicken is gone. So, if you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these exciting chickens, we recommend keeping them in an enclosure of some sort where they have access to foliage and roughage as needed.

Modern Game Chickens would do very well in a movable coop, so you can put them in various parts of your yard without putting them in danger. Since the Modern Game Chicken is an active and curious breed, they need something to keep them occupied and won’t be happy in tiny spaces. Unless, of course, the hen is going broody. She will prefer to be left to her own devices, sitting comfortably on top of a nest of fresh eggs.

Often, Modern Game Chickens are ideal for the garden because they don’t scratch up the soil as much as other chickens. However, they love bugs and will eliminate so many pests in your precious garden space. Don’t think that means they won’t snack on your lettuce and other items, so supervision is necessary. Or, you could get creative and form a well-secured run around the perimeter of your garden so they can enjoy it.

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Are Modern Game Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Unlike their ancestors’ brute-force temperament, the Modern Game Chicken keeps the traditional appearance without fuss. You don’t have to worry about having one of these birds on your property, as they tend to integrate well in almost any situation.

If you were thinking of getting a Modern Game Chicken, you might have better luck finding a bantam than a standard size variety. However, look at local hatcheries and even online if you want the chicks shipped to you.


Featured Image Credit: Modern Game hen (Steven Walling, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0)

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