Photo Credit: Illustration by Diane Jacky
Use: The Shamo is an ornamental chicken breed that produces a good amount of meat; however, the meat has been described as tough and isn’t favorable to every palate. Hens make good mothers, but fare poorly as layers.
History: Ancestors of the Shamo chicken are believed to have reached Japan sometime during the Edo Period (1603 to 1867) by way of Siam. Breeders looked to the strength and endurance of these original breeds when creating the Shamo breed. In 1941, the Japanese government placed the Shamo under protection of law in hopes of avoiding its extinction. It was around this time that the breed arrived in America, possibly as eggs in the pockets of soldiers. The breed quickly gained popularity in the South, particularly as a crossbreed for fighting stock, and are found primarily in the South today. The Shamo was admitted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1981.
Conformation: Only second in size to the Malay, the Shamo chicken can reach up to 2½ feet in height. Its face and throat are featherless, and a pea-combed head sits atop a muscular, upright body. Its close feathers often do not cover the entire body. The APA recognizes four color varieties: Black, Dark, Black-breasted Red and Wheaten (female only); all having standard plumage. Wattles are quite small, sometimes missing entirely and, along with the comb and earlobes, are bright red. Its strong, tall shanks are yellow. Standard Shamo cocks weigh 11 pounds and hens weigh 7 pounds; bantam cocks weigh 44 ounces and bantam hens weigh 36 ounces.
Special Considerations/Notes: Although the Shamo chicken breed is known to be quite aggressive toward other fowl, it exhibits a calm friendliness toward people. It’s easy to tame, and it performs well in shows. Chicks will begin fighting almost immediately, so males should be separated from the flock as soon as possible. The Shamo chicken is listed in the Watch category of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.