Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Old English Games

Old English Games are a historic breed that has a devoted following in the historic poultry world. They are varied in color and feathering, sturdy and resilient, good foragers and good brooders and mothers. They embody the strengths of utility chickens along with beautiful plumage and lively dispositions.
This Muffed and Tasseled Old English Game pullet belongs to Ed Hart of Sorento, Illinois. He edits the SPPA Bulletin. The muff refers to the feathers under the chin, also called whiskers. Her tassel is the feathers behind her comb.
Old English Games trace their lineage back to cockfighting in England, which was outlawed in 1835. For exhibition, cocks must be dubbed, have their combs trimmed off. This custom harks back to their fighting history. Combs were trimmed off fighting cocks so that there would not be any escess skin for an opponent to catch hold of.
They are recognized by the American Poultry Association in nine color varieties (Black,, Black Breasted Red, Spangled, Blue Breasted Red, Lemon Blue, Blue Golden Duckwing, Blue Silver Duckwing, Self Blue and Crele) but fanciers raise many others, including Fawn, Brassyback, White and Wheaten.
Because they retain their utility qualities, this is a good choice for small flock breeders who want hens who will incubate their own eggs and raise their own chicks. Captain J.L. Lawrence wrote in the New York Sun, quoted in the New England Poultryman of July 15, 1939, said," The term Thoroughbred, connoting much more than mere breeding by pedigree, has been applied deliberately to the running horse of Arab and Barb ancestry, and the game cock, only; and the parallel is not far fetched, for both creatures are bred, with singular care and devotion to ideals, for the highest attainable degrees of health, vigor, courage and bouyancy of spirit. Not unnaturally, beauty has accompanied the other attributes of these Thoroughbreds in their development, and there is no reasonsable answer to the question of why fanciers and other lovers of fine poultry have virtually ignored and passed by the most majestic, symmetrical and superbly plumaged member of the gallinaceous family."

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