BORN TO BE WILD.....SUMATRA GAME
April/May 2001 AES
The Sumatra is a jetblack longtailed Asian gamefowl. The home of this breed is the island of Sumatra which today is a part of Indonesia. Some people classify the Sumatra as a pure exhibition breed. But behind its elegant appearance a true piece of gamefowl is hidden.
The Sumatra has some distinctive trademarks like a long,bushy well developed tail, a beetle-green glossy plumage and a unique feature...triple or multiple spurs. Some scientists therfor strongly believe that the Sumatra breed is closely related to pheasants. In England the breed for a while was even known as “Malay Pheasant”. But today only the name “Sumatra” or “Sumatra Game” is being used.
As said its a genuine gamefowl breed. After their introduction into the United States in 1847, American cockers quickly adopted the breed. They used the Sumatra both as a pure breed and crossbred (with local American Game strains) in gaff and knive cockfights. In both options and styles the breed proved to be very succesful. This most likely due to their agility, speed and terrific wingpower. However, the popularity of the Sumatra as a fighting breed faded away and instead the breed became very popular with poultry exhibitors.
Typical physical features of the breed: a rather small head with dark eyes, small peacomb, no wattles, a long well developed tail. Colour of the legs: black or olivegreen with yellow soles. Colour of the face: red but also a complete dark face (gypsy face) is possible. Weights: male 5.5 Lbs (2.5 Kg), the hen 4.4 Lbs (2.0 Kg). Sumatra’s are probably the one and only chicken breed with “flying” capability. So watch the height of your fence if using an open top pen. In case of any danger, Sumatra’s are able to take off vertically with an amazing speed (like a VTOL Harrier jetfighter !). Therfor it is adviced to cover the top of their pen with some flexible netting. This to prevent any damage to the bird by headbangin a solid top cover..
They are very hardy and are also very profilic layers. The hens are very good sitters and take good care of their offspring. Raising chickens is easy. The breed does not require any special treatment. A spacious pen of sufficient height (with flexible netting) however is adviced. A standard diet consisting of a well balanced grain mixture will do the job. An extra gift of oily grains and seeds (like linseed, sunflower or safflower) once a while will keep the breeds glossy beetlegreen shiny plumage in top condition. It is a very interesting and appealing breed showing elegance, flair and a gamey character.
Article: Willem van Ballekom (AGS Secretary)
Asian Gamefowl Society website
Picture source: J.Wolters (Germany)
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