thai game fowl is just one in the list of birds belonging
to the asian, or oriental, game fowl group, which also
includes the ga noi don breed from Vietnam, the burmese
(aka. pama) breed from Burma, the asil from the Middle
East and India (arguably the oldest of all asiatic game
fowl breeds), and the shamo of Japan. As its name suggests,
the thai game fowl was developed in Thailand, where
it is used in cockfighting. Cockfighting is somewhat
of a nationally-recognized sport in Thailand, and many
people actually make their living there by breeding
or training these birds for competition, or by manufacturing
products for use by those involved in the sport.
There are three main forms of competition in Thailand
- gaff/knife (ie. artificial spurs), naked heel (ie.
natural spurs), and padded/covered spurs. Each form
of competition requires certain fighting characteristics
on the part of the bird in order for it to stand a reasonable
chance of winning. Gaff/knife and naked heel competitions
emphasize the usage of spurs, so birds that strike accurately
with their spurs have a distinct advantage over those
that don't, or can't. However, in padded/covered spur
competitions, spurs are not used, so birds instead must
rely on the accuracy of striking with their feet and
the power that comes with each strike to win. Padded/covered
spur competition, with bouts fought in rounds of set
number of minutes and with the birds wearing gloves
to pad and neutralize their spurs, can be likened to
the human sport of boxing, such that it has come to
be commonly referred to as 'cockboxing.' All-in-all,
it is this third type of competition that is the most
humane and also the most effective at highlighting the
strengths of this game fowl breed.
with the times. Within the past
several years, and as a way of improving the image of
cockfighting in Thailand, many officials, particularly
those who oversee the various indigenous fowl conservation
societies and cockfighting associations, have moved
to make covered spur competition the official cockfighting
method in the country. As this method is dedicated equally
to showcasing the skills of the fowl and to ensuring
that every bird is protected as much as possible in
the process, it is certainly the best way to ensure
that this traditional sport continues to endure.
The thai game fowl comes in many colors ranging from
solid white to gray, to black, and even brown. However,
the stereotypical thai game fowl has black feathers
with a metallic green sheen and blood-red back feathers
and neck hackles. It is this stereotypical image of
the thai game fowl that most of those who are new to
keeping these birds have in mind.
Currently there are several standardized thai game
fowl variants, including the Pradu Hang Dam (Dark Black
Tail) and Leung Hang Khao (Yellow White Tail). Despite
their color-oriented names however, the distinctions
between these variants go much deeper than simple physical
differences, as many of these variants come from specific
parts of Thailand and hold significant historical and
traditional importance in their areas of origin. One
of the best examples of this is the Leung Hang Khao
variant of northern Thailand, which is said to have
originated from the very rooster kept by King Naresuan.
Today, there are many associations and clubs within
Thailand that are dedicated to promoting this breed.
Although some of these clubs deal with the fighting
aspects of this breed, many more are dedicated instead
to its beauty and contribute greatly to preserving pedigreed
lineages and to sponsoring exhibitions of these beautiful
birds all across the country. The following pictures
show some of the variants of the thai game fowl:
The site is no longer active.
Although the traditional and historical roles that
the thai game fowl plays in its country of origin are
well-recognized and are still very important in their
own right, it is ultimately the fighting ability of
this breed that remains by far the most valued and most
sought-after quality. The thai game fowl breed in general
is known for its quickness and fighting intellect, and
a skilled bird, or one from a bloodline known for skilled
birds, can easily be worth tens of times more than a
regular bird; while one that has already won multiple
times can potentially be worth hundreds of times more
than a regular bird. Such value is not undeserved. In
Thailand where these birds are fought, bouts can have
purses ranging into the hundreds of thousands of baht,
so it is not surprising that birds with the skills to
compete at those levels can be worth tens of thousands
of baht or more.
In its native land, the thai game fowl is known as gaichon.
"Gai" means "chicken," while "chon"
means "battle" or "fight." - a testament
to the heritage of this breed.
"Soom" means "chicken coop" - just
in case you're curious why some thai sites pertaining
to these birds have "soom" in their titles.
After generations of selective breeding aimed at producing
highly skilled birds, there are currently about as many
different fighting styles as there are color patterns.
These styles range from the common standup style where
a bird simply stands there and kicks, much like how
a boxer fights, to the rare and highly effective feather-plucker
The thai game fowl's popularity means that today it
is not restricted only to its country of origin. In
fact, this breed can now be found in virtually all corners
of Southeast Asia. Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Burma,
and even Vietnam and Indonesia have significant populations
of thai game fowl. This breed has also been exported
to places even further away, including countries in
the Middle East, South America, and of course here in
the United States.