PHOTO: Steven Walling/Wikimedia Commons
Heidi Strawn
February 4, 2011

Use: The Modern Game is an ornamental chicken breed that can be friendly despite its history of use in cockfighting. Hens will lay about 100 small eggs yearly.

History: Although the Modern Game chicken breed may stir up ideas of olden day cockfighting, it was never actually used in combat. In 1849, when cockfighting was outlawed in Britain, breeders were left wanting another form of competition. In response, a chicken similar in appearance to traditional game fowl with potential for showing in exhibition was created. As a way of emphasizing the chicken breed’s shape and slenderness, Modern Games once underwent a now commonly outlawed procedure called “dubbing,” in which they were stripped of their combs and wattles; however, the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection recommends a cock’s comb, wattles and earlobes be dubbed to keep the head, lower mandible and throat free from ridges. The Modern Game was recognized by the APA in 1874.

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Conformation: Breeders mated the Malay with Old English game fowl, resulting in the Modern Game chicken breed. The APA recognizes several color varieties including: Birchen, Black, Black-breasted Red, Blue, Blue-breasted Red, Brown Red, Golden Duckwing, Lemon Blue, Red Pyle, Silver Blue, Silver Duckwing, Wheaten and White. All have standard plumage with some exceptions. The single comb, wattles and earlobes are small, and colors can be red, bright red, dark purple or mulberry. Shank colors vary with plumage, though yellow is most common. Standard Modern Game cocks weigh 6 pounds and hens weigh 4½ pounds; bantam cocks weigh 22 ounces and bantam hens weigh 20 ounces.

Special Considerations/Notes: The Modern Game chicken breed might exhibit aggression and noisiness; however, it’s typically gentle toward handlers. This quality along with the breed’s willingness to be trained will please chicken fanciers. The small, close-fitting feathers do not lend themselves to cold hardiness, so insulated coops are necessary. The Modern Game is listed in the Critical category of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.

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  • Keep your coop secure all night and open only during daylight.

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