Chickens are known to be friendly, innocent, and docile creatures. That’s the whole reason they’re put in the backyard as pets. But while most chickens have a gentle, unassuming demeanor, this is not the case for the fierce, brave, and strong Old English Game chicken.
The Old English Game chicken is regarded as one of the kings of the poultry world. It is known for its fearless eyes, intimidating stance, and indomitable spirit. This breed has a history of cock-fighting, so it makes sense that today, Old English Game chickens have an aggressive streak.
Are you a fan of the coveted Old English Game chicken? Or perhaps just curious about this strong chicken breed packed with personality and a rich history? Either way, this guide is for you. Today, we’ll talk all about the history, appearance, and personality traits of the Old English Game chicken.
History and Origins of the Old English Game Chicken
The Old English Game chicken is a domestic chicken breed popular in Great Britain and all over the world. But you can’t talk about the origins of Old English Game chickens without reliving the history of the sport it was bred for—cockfighting.
Cockfighting was introduced by the Romans to England in the 1st century, A.D. It is said that Julius Caesar himself was the first enthusiast of this game. It was a sport loved by people of all walks of life, from the royals in court who help cock fights in palaces to humble students and clergy.
The fighting roosters the English used in this sport in the early 1800s were none other than the Old English Game chicken. It was a descendant of other fighting birds from around the world, such as the wild Jungle Fowl and the relentless Pit Game chicken.
Although the public loved cockfighting in the early 19th century, Queen Victoria banned the sport in 1849 through the Act for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Since then, Old English Game chickens were used as ornamental fowl which were entered into exhibitions and poultry shows. However, because of their association with cockfighting, they are still a symbol of courage, bravery, and endurance today.
Interested in learning more about the history of cockfighting and the fierce, fearlessly captivating Old English Game Chicken? Check out this informative video:
The Two Types of Old English Game Chickens
There are two kinds of Old English Game chickens that you can get for your flock—the Carlisle and the Oxford breeds. While both were bred primarily for cockfighting, they do have distinct differences in their appearance.
First, let’s talk about the Oxford breed. There are 30 different colors listed under this breed, from black and white to spangled or brown red. Oxford chickens are more active and stand up taller and straighter at a 45-degree angle from the ground. They also have longer tail feathers.
Meanwhile, the Carlisle breed is listed to have just 13 colors. This type of Old English Game chicken is beefier and has more muscles, making them look larger. They also have recognizable horizontal backs that give them an almost “attacking” stance. They have large breasts as well.
How Do Old English Game Fowl Look Like?
Although Oxford and Carlisle chickens have a distinct stance and build, the rest of their appearance is quite similar.
Since Old English Game chickens were bred for the ring, many of their physical attributes were tailored to fighting. Their body is small and compact to help them move around more freely. They also have broad shoulders, curved beaks, and strong, long necks.
One unique trait you’ll find in these birds is their feathers, which are stiff and tightly bound to their white-skinned bodies. These feathers prevent their competitors from pecking and tugging at them.
Their glossy feathers can come in tons of bold, eye-catching colors, like dun, golden duckwing, brassy back, and wheaten. There are even Old English Game chicken colors you won’t find in any other breed.
Male Old English Game birds used to go through a process called dubbing while they are cockerels. Dubbing is the act of trimming off a bird’s wattles and combs to prevent them from being injured in a fight. But since cockfighting is no longer legal, this practice is uncommon today.
What is an Old English Game Chicken Used for Today?
1. Exhibition of poultry shows
Many people in England were disappointed when cockfighting was banned throughout the country. But with the Old English Game chicken’s beautiful, colorful plumage, it makes sense that their next calling in life was to be show birds competing in poultry shows.
In competitions, these ornamental birds are judged according to the Standard of Perfection. They’re judged and graded based on their appearance, stance, size, the beauty of their feathers, and many more qualities.
2. Small-scale egg and meat production
While these chickens are meant for competing, you can still technically use them to produce poultry on the farm. They may produce eggs and meat, but only on a small scale, since they’re not bred to lay eggs or be turned into meat in the first place.
Old English Game females can lay about a modest 2-3 eggs a week only. These eggs are small and tinted. This gives you around 100-150 small eggs each year.
When it comes to meat, the Old English Game chicken’s muscle content pays off. Although they can only produce a small quantity of meat because of their size, the meat is flavorful. That said, some people have commented that the meat of this chicken can be quite gamey.
Personality Traits of Old English Game Chickens
1. Loud, confident, and aggressive
One of the most distinct personality traits of Old English Game chickens is that they can be aggressive and loud in the coops. They do quite well with human handlers, but they can be overconfident and confrontational if they live with other chickens.
These chickens tend to create conflict in the coops, which makes sense if you think about their cockfighting history. They will puff out their chest and intimidate other chickens. They won’t be afraid to do it even to the bigger chickens, too.
One way to deal with violent, aggressive Old English game chickens is by isolating them from the rest of the flock. Keep the males, especially the older, more mature cocks, in a different space from the rest of the flock to avoid injuries and fights.
Because these chickens can be aggressive and prone to fighting with others, it’s best not to keep them in the same flock as friendly, docile breeds. We also don’t recommend this breed for first-time chicken raisers. Novice bird owners are better off with friendly chickens first, like ISA Browns.
2. Broody, protective mothers
While the males in the flock are aggressive, the hens show the same broody behavior in motherhood.
Sometimes, an Old English Game hen will lay eggs and then feel the need to be extra protective of them. Instead of walking around and exploring the yard, she will be seen sitting on her eggs.
She might leave her eggs to eat but will come back shortly after to incubate her babies. She will also peck at chickens that try to come closer to the eggs.
3. Brave and defensive when in danger
Because these chickens are so brave and daring, they do quite well when there are predators around. They’re not an easy, innocent target because they tend to fight back when they feel threatened.
They’re alert whenever there are predators like cats or raccoons around, so they’re not likely to get eaten or attacked.
4. Don’t like small, enclosed spaces
These chickens don’t like being trapped in small, enclosed spaces, especially when there are other birds with them. They’re more comfortable when they’re free to explore a big yard. They also love to forage food for themselves, from yummy bugs and insects to small frogs.
Old English Game chickens have a distinct appearance and personality directly tied to their history as fighting cocks. They have a muscular build, strong feathers, and a confident stance that is backed up with bravery and sometimes aggressive behavior.
While these chickens are most known as ornamental fowl that compete in shows, they are still useful on the farm. Hens can lay up to 180 eggs a year. This breed’s meat is always flavorful too, thanks to its muscular body type.
However, if it’s your first time owning a chicken, we recommend going for friendlier, more docile breeds. When you’re more confident in your chicken-raising skills and know how to deal with aggressive fowl, you might be a good fit for the strong, fierce, captivating Old English Game chicken.