When I see the Modern Game Chickens the first word that comes to mind for me is ‘prehistoric’ as they proudly sport their long legs and dinosaur-like poses.
I don’t think there is anything too modern looking about these birds, but they certainly have a unique appearance. If you’re after a good meat or egg producer, this isn’t a chicken that’s up your alley. However, for the avid exhibitor, this could be a fun and interesting pick.
About Modern Game Chickens
This chicken was bred in England sometime between 1850 and 1900, originating from game birds, but bred to be an ornamental chicken more than a game chicken.
Game birds are bred for fighting, and while this chicken was bred to look like a game chicken, it isn’t meant to have the aggressive characteristics of a game bird.
Old English Game birds and Malays were both primarily used in the breeding of Modern Game birds. There are now 18 different color variations of the Modern Game Bantams that are currently accepted by the American Bantam Association.
Modern Games’ Characteristics
1. Size and Weight
These are certainly some tiny birds as bantams, although these chickens do come in standard sizes too. Bantam roosters rarely top 23 ounces while bantam hens usually cap out at 18 ounces.
Standard size Modern Games are larger, with males weighing in around 8 pounds. Modern Game hens are slightly smaller, averaging at about 6 pounds full grown.
Although these chickens have game bird background, they are bred to have much more personable temperaments than their ancestors. Modern Games are generally calm and easily tamed chickens.
Occasionally, roosters will show sparks of aggression and every now and then you’ll get a rooster that is just plain mean. Modern Game hens have a tendency to go broody and make superb mother hens.
3. Egg Production
If you’re after a chicken for egg production, don’t go looking for any Modern Game hens, because they will most likely disappoint you.
Annual egg production rarely caps 50-80 eggs for a single hen.
4. Meat production
One can probably imagine that these chickens aren’t ideal for meat production either by a glance at their lean and muscular bodies.
Occasionally Modern Game chickens will get mixed up with Cornish Game Hens, a good meat production breed for those after grocery store rotisserie-style carcasses.
Caring for the Modern Game Chicken
1. Feeding and Nutrition
There are specially formulated feeds for game chickens that birds such as the Modern Game will thrive on. You can buy game bird feed at any feed store for your adult Modern Game chickens. Chicks will need to be supplied with any good quality chick starter until they reach approximately 12-16 weeks of age.
If you have laying hens, they will need to be fed calcium supplements in a separate feeder because game bird feed does not have enough calcium to support egg production. Crushed up eggshells or oyster shells make excellent supplements so your hens can lay strong and healthy eggs.
2. Housing and Fencing
Bantam and standard size chickens have slightly different spatial requirements inside the coop, so you need to plan accordingly based on your birds.
Standard birds require about 4 square feet per chicken in the coop. Bantams require significantly less, needing only about 2 square feet per chicken in their coop.
Your Modern Game birds need to free range if at all possible. These chickens have keen senses when it comes to avoiding predators and prefer to run far and wide. Lots of exercise and space is crucial when it comes to keeping these chickens healthy and happy.
3. Health Issues and Care
Game birds are generally very tough birds with strong immune systems and minimal health problems. All birds are equally susceptible to a variety of health issues and knowledge about symptoms of a sick bird is key to catching illness early on.
Internal and external parasites such as worms, mites and lice are common pests for your chickens. Keep an eye out for these nuisances and don’t delay in treatment if you find yourself with an infestation.
Breeding any type of chicken can be fun and prove to be a great learning process. There are many different color variations, so you can pick a solid color or an intricate color pattern. Research while choosing your colors so you pick a chicken you’re sure to like.
Modern Game Breed Alternatives
As some of the birds that went into the breeding of the original Modern Game, the Malay Chicken is perfect if you’re looking to go back to the roots of Modern Games. Malay carry the same leggy and gangly appearance with a slightly harsher edge to their personality.
Did You Know?
Although both bantam and standard versions of the Modern Game birds exist, bantams are largely more popular and easy to find than Standard versions.
For the chicken keeper after a fancy lawn ornament of an avid keeper of show birds, this gangly looking bird just might weasel into your heart!