Modern Game Bantams – Poultry Fashion Models With a Fighting Spirit

Because of their slender physique, incredibly long legs and upright pose, Modern Game Bantams are considered by many the fashion models of the poultry world, but few know that they also have a mean streak.

Modern Game chickens take their name from the ‘old English game’, a chicken breed brought to the English Isles in the 1st century by the Romans. Bred exclusively for cock fighting, the old English game grew immensely popular over the century because, well, raising a chicken was relatively affordable, and cockfighting was a “sport” anyone could partake in. However, things changed in 1849, when cock fighting was officially banned in England, by order of the Queen. All of a sudden, the old English game was retired, and a new, modern variant took its place.

Photo: Chicken Breeds List

Just because they couldn’t stage or participate in cockfights didn’t mean that people lost interest in fowl. All that changed was the way in which this interest manifested. Poultry fancying and bird shows became very popular, and instead of the bulky frame of fighting chickens, a slick and slender physique was preferred. And that’s how the Modern Game came to be.

By mixing old English game chickens with Malay bantams from Asia, breeders created the Modern Game, a new, more visually-pleasing version of their legendary fighting birds. According to Wikipedia, Modern Games were developed to be most aesthetically pleasing and to epitomize the visual appeal of the gamecock or fighting cock.

But although Modern Games retain the general look of the old English game games, they are considerably different. Even for a bantam breed, they are very skinny, and have long, slender legs, whereas old English games had a bulky frame with broad shoulders, and short but strong legs designed for cockfighting.

Modern Games were developed exclusively as exhibition birds. As their slender frame suggests, they are poorly suited for laying eggs, and they barely have any meat on their bodies, which makes them very impractical farm animals. Chicken fanciers love them, though.

One thing that many people ignore is the temperament of these vulnerable-looking birds. They may not look like warriors, but their cockfighting lineage becomes evident in the breeding season. Modern Games can be extremely aggressive, and even hens can exhibit aggressive tendencies at times. Luckily, they can be tamed.

For more interesting chicken breeds, check out the humongous Jersey Giants, and the Sebright ornamental chickens, which look like living, breathing paintings-by-numbers.