Old English Game chickens

Old English Game Chicken Breed: Insights on a Heritage Bird

If you’re looking for a chicken breed that is steeped in history and boasts unique traits, Old English Game chickens are an excellent choice. These poultry breeds have been around for centuries and have become a beloved backyard chicken breed due to their hardiness, adaptability, and foraging abilities. Whether you’re a poultry enthusiast or a backyard chicken keeper, Old English Game chickens are sure to delight you with their charisma and distinct characteristics.

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Key Takeaways

  • Old English Game chickens are heritage chicken breeds with a rich history and unique traits
  • These backyard chicken breeds are hardy and adaptable to different climates
  • Old English Game chickens are excellent foragers and have distinct physical attributes, such as their size and plumage colors
  • Caring for and raising these chickens requires some special consideration, but they are well worth the effort
  • Old English Game chickens continue to enchant poultry enthusiasts and backyard chicken keepers alike, serving as a symbol of our agricultural heritage

History of Old English Game Chickens

The Old English Game chickens are one of the oldest heritage chicken breeds in the United States, with a history that dates back to the 1800s. These ancient chickens were originally bred for their fighting abilities, and were often used in cockfighting events. However, as cockfighting became illegal, the focus shifted towards breeding this unique bird for exhibition purposes.

OriginsThe Old English Game chickens are believed to have originated from the game strains of India and Southeast Asia, which were brought to Europe by the Romans. These birds were then crossed with local breeds to adapt to the European climate and develop new traits.
Breed DevelopmentThe Old English Game chickens were first brought to the United States in the early 1800s, where they quickly became popular among farmers and breeders. Over the years, different strains of the breed were developed, each with unique characteristics such as feather type and comb shape.
Modern UseToday, the Old English Game chickens are primarily kept for exhibition purposes, although they still retain their fighting abilities. These birds are also popular among backyard chicken keepers and poultry enthusiasts who appreciate their hardiness, foraging abilities, and striking appearances.

If you are interested in raising heritage chicken breeds or backyard chicken breeds, the Old English Game chickens are definitely worth considering. Their rare and exotic nature adds a unique touch to any flock, while their fascinating history reminds us of the important role that poultry breeds have played in our agricultural heritage.

Characteristics of Old English Game Chickens

Old English Game chickens are known for their distinctive, elegant appearance and unique physical attributes that set them apart from other poultry breeds. These rare and exotic chicken breeds come in a range of sizes and plumage colors, making them a popular choice for backyard chicken keepers looking to add some variety to their flocks.


Old English Game chickens are small to medium-sized birds, with roosters typically weighing between 5-6 pounds and hens between 4-5 pounds.

Plumage Colors

Old English Game chickens boast some of the most beautiful and striking plumage colors of all chicken breeds. From the classic black-breasted red and blue-breasted red to the less common silver and wheaten varieties, there is a color to suit every chicken keeper’s taste.

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Comb Types

Another unique characteristic of Old English Game chickens is their distinctive comb types. While most chicken breeds have a single comb, Old English Games can have single, rose, or dublin comb varieties.

Differences between Roosters and Hens

Roosters and hens of the Old English Game breed differ not only in size but also in appearance. Roosters have a more upright stance, are more brightly colored, and have longer and more pronounced tail feathers. Hens, on the other hand, have a more rounded body shape and are less vibrantly colored.

Old English Game Chickens for Showing

Old English Game chickens are a popular choice for poultry shows and exhibitions due to their unique and distinct physical attributes. These chickens are highly sought after for their beautiful and colorful plumage, which comes in a wide range of shades such as black, white, red and blue. Judges also look for a variety of other qualities when selecting the best Old English Game birds, including their body shape, size, and temperament.

Breed Standards for Old English Game Chickens

When it comes to showing Old English Game chickens, there are specific breed standards that judges look for. According to the American Poultry Association (APA), there are three different kinds of Old English Game chickens that are recognized for showing:

Breed NameBreed Description
Black Breasted RedA deep, rich red color around the breast area with black feathers along the rest of the bird’s body.
Brown RedA reddish-brown body color with light feathers around the breast and wing areas.
SpangledA unique breed with a white base color and black spots throughout the body.

It’s important to note that while these breed standards are specific, judges also take into account other qualities such as overall health, vigor, and presentation of the bird. Old English Game chickens that are selected for showing are often raised specifically for this purpose and are bred to meet these specific standards.

Rooster Breeds for Showing

Roosters are often preferred over hens in poultry shows due to their stunning and showy appearance. When it comes to Old English Game roosters, there are certain breeds that are favored for their unique traits and characteristics. Some of the most popular Old English Game rooster breeds for showing include:

  • Dark Cornish: Known for their broad, muscular build and deep, rich color.
  • Birchen: These roosters have a beautiful silver-grey body with white feathers around the neck area.
  • Golden Duckwing: Distinguished by their bright and striking coloring of golden brown and black.

“Old English Game chickens are a living piece of history and an important part of our agricultural heritage. These birds showcase the beauty and complexity of heritage chicken breeds and continue to enchant and inspire poultry enthusiasts around the world.”

Old English Game Chickens for Cockfighting

While controversial and illegal in many countries, cockfighting was once a popular sport that they fought Old English Game chickens for their unique traits and fighting abilities. These chickens were selectively bred for this purpose for hundreds of years, resulting in a breed that was hardy, aggressive, and resilient in the face of opposing birds. The sport has a long history, with evidence of cockfighting dating back to ancient times.

Old English Game chickens had a distinct advantage in the ring because of their natural fighting instincts and small size. Their compact bodies and muscular legs made them agile and fierce, allowing them to hold their own against larger birds. They were also versatile fighters, able to engage in both short and long battles without tiring.

Despite being bred for fighting, Old English Game chickens are also valued for their beauty and unique physical characteristics. They come in a variety of colors and have a distinctive upright stance, with a small comb and wattles. Their feathers are tight and lay close to the body, helping them avoid injury during fights.

It is important to note that cockfighting is illegal in many countries, and animal welfare organizations condemn the practice as cruel and inhumane. In many places where cockfighting is legal, it is closely regulated to ensure the safety and well-being of the birds involved.

BreedCountry of OriginFighting Characteristics
Black-Breasted RedEnglandAggressive, fast, and agile
BirchenEnglandHardy and tenacious
Brown-RedEnglandStrong, bold, and hardy
SpangledEnglandFast and aggressive

While the popularity of cockfighting has waned in recent years, Old English Game chickens remain a valuable and unique breed with a rich history in the sport. Today, they are primarily raised for their beauty, temperament, and historical significance, and are admired by poultry enthusiasts around the world.

heritage chicken breeds

Old English Game Chickens in Backyard Flocks

Old English Game chickens are among the most popular backyard chicken breeds and for a good reason. These heritage chicken breeds are hardy, adaptable, and can thrive in different environments.

These chickens have an exceptional foraging ability and can consume a wide variety of foods ranging from seeds, insects to leftover food scraps. This makes them cost-effective birds to keep, especially for small-scale farmers who want to produce their eggs.

If you are interested in raising these birds, here are some tips on caring for Old English Game chickens in your backyard:

  • Provide ample living space: Old English Game chickens can be aggressive, so ensure that they have enough space to roam around in their coop and run. A good rule of thumb is to provide at least four square feet of space per bird in the coop and eight square feet of space in the run.
  • Feed them a complete diet: To keep your Old English Game chickens healthy, feed them a complete diet that consists of a balanced mix of protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins. You can find chicken feed at your local farming store or mix your feed at home.
  • Keep their coop clean: It’s essential to keep your Old English Game chicken’s coop clean to reduce the risk of diseases and pests. Clean the coop regularly and use a bedding material such as straw or wood shavings to absorb moisture and keep the coop dry.
Prolific egg layersCan be aggressive towards other chickens
Hardy and adaptable to different climatesCan be expensive to purchase initially
Excellent foragersNot suitable for confined spaces
Beautiful and distinctive plumage colorsRequire ample space to roam

These are general tips for taking care of Old English Game chickens in your backyard. Always consult with a veterinarian who specializes in poultry health to ensure that your birds remain healthy and happy.

Breeding Old English Game Chickens

Diving into the intricate process of breeding Old English Game chickens is both challenging and rewarding. Breeders of heritage chicken breeds like the Old English Game have a dual responsibility: to maintain breed purity while also improving the breed with each successive generation.

Selecting Breeding Stock

The key to breeding high-quality Old English Game chickens is to begin by selecting breeding stock that meets the breed standard. This involves choosing birds with the right combination of physical traits, such as size, weight, and coloration, as well as temperament and behavior.

Maintaining Breed Purity

One of the biggest challenges in breeding Old English Game chickens is maintaining the breed’s purity. Since these birds are a rare chicken breed, it’s essential to avoid crossbreeding with other varieties to ensure that the breed’s unique qualities are preserved.

The Rewards of Preserving a Heritage Breed

Preserving and improving Old English Game chickens is a worthwhile endeavor with many rewards. By preserving a rare chicken breed like the Old English Game, breeders are keeping alive a piece of agricultural heritage and a link to the past. Additionally, working to maintain breed purity and improve the breed over time can lead to exceptional quality birds that are healthier, hardier, and more adaptable to their environment.

The Challenges of Breeding Rare Chicken Breeds

Breeding rare chicken breeds like the Old English Game chicken comes with its own set of unique challenges. The small population size and limited genetic diversity means that breeders must be diligent in avoiding inbreeding and strive to maintain genetic health in the birds they breed. The rewards, however, are well worth the effort of preserving a rare and unique heritage breed.

Rare Chicken Breeds

“Breeding Old English Game chickens is both a science and an art. It takes time, dedication, and a deep understanding of the breed to produce high-quality birds that meet the breed standard and embody the unique qualities of this remarkable heritage breed.”

Old English Game Chickens in Modern Times

Old English Game chickens have come a long way since their early origins as fighting birds. Today, they have found a new place in modern agriculture and backyard chicken keeping, as cherished heritage breeds with valuable traits.

Their hardiness, adaptability, and foraging abilities make them ideal for free-range farming and sustainable agriculture practices. They also have a devoted following among poultry enthusiasts, who appreciate their distinctive personalities, colorful plumage, and rich history.

Efforts to conserve and protect Old English Game chickens as a heritage breed are ongoing, with passionate breeders and organizations dedicated to preserving their unique traits for future generations.

Old English Game Chickens and Sustainable Agriculture

 Advantages for Sustainable Agriculture
HardinessDisease-resistant and adaptable to different climates
Foraging AbilitiesGreat for free-range farming, low supplemental feed needed
BiodiversityContributes to preservation of rare heritage breeds

By embracing the unique qualities of Old English Game chickens, we can honor their history and contribute to sustainable agriculture practices for a better future.


In conclusion, Old English Game chickens are truly exceptional heritage birds that have captured the hearts of poultry enthusiasts and backyard chicken keepers alike. Their resilience, unique characteristics, and rich history make them a valuable addition to any flock, and a testament to our agricultural heritage.

As we continue to see shifts in modern agriculture, it’s important to recognize the significance of preserving rare and heritage chicken breeds like the Old English Game. These birds represent a connection to our past and a commitment to sustainable agriculture and conservation efforts.

Whether you are interested in showing, breeding, or keeping Old English Game chickens for their sheer beauty and charm, there’s no doubt that these birds will continue to be a beloved and treasured breed for generations to come.


What are Old English Game chickens?

Old English Game chickens are a heritage breed known for their unique traits and rich history in backyard flocks. They are resilient birds cherished for their distinct characteristics and physical attributes.

What is the history of Old English Game chickens?

Old English Game chickens have a fascinating history that dates back centuries. They originated in England and were developed as a breed for cockfighting purposes. Over time, they became popular in backyard chicken keeping and have since been recognized as a rare and exotic chicken breed.

What are the characteristics of Old English Game chickens?

Old English Game chickens are known for their small size, colorful plumage, and unique comb types. There are also differences between roosters and hens in terms of size and physical appearance. These birds have distinct traits that make them stand out among other chicken breeds.

Are Old English Game chickens suitable for poultry shows?

Yes, Old English Game chickens are a popular choice for poultry shows and exhibitions. They have specific breed standards and desirable qualities that judges look for in these types of events. Their heritage and unique characteristics make them a favorite among chicken enthusiasts.

Were Old English Game chickens traditionally used for cockfighting?

Yes, historically Old English Game chickens were used for cockfighting, although this practice is now illegal in many countries. Their unique physical attributes and fighting abilities made them popular in this sport. It is important to acknowledge their historical significance while recognizing that cockfighting is no longer condoned.

Are Old English Game chickens suitable for backyard flocks?

Absolutely! Old English Game chickens are beloved by backyard chicken keepers due to their hardiness, foraging abilities, and adaptability to different climates. They make excellent additions to any backyard flock and can thrive in various environments.

How do you breed Old English Game chickens?

Breeding Old English Game chickens involves selecting quality breeding stock, maintaining breed purity, and understanding the intricacies of the breeding process. It requires attention to detail and a deep understanding of the breed’s characteristics and standards.

How have Old English Game chickens adapted to modern times?

Old English Game chickens have evolved and adapted to modern times by playing a role in sustainable agriculture and becoming popular among poultry enthusiasts. There are efforts to conserve and protect this valuable heritage breed to ensure its survival for future generations.

What is the significance of Old English Game chickens in our agricultural heritage?

Old English Game chickens represent a connection to our agricultural past and the importance of preserving heritage breeds. They serve as a reminder of the role these chickens played historically and the value of maintaining genetic diversity in our poultry populations.

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