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Thai Gamefowl

Thailand, Laos and Vietnam as seen from space. Source: Nasa.
The thai gamefowl is a breed of domesticated fowl - ie chicken - belonging to the asian, or oriental, gamefowl group, which also includes the ga noi don breed of Vietnam, the burmese (aka. pama) of Burma, the asil of the Middle East and India (arguably the oldest of all asiatic gamefowl breeds), and the shamo of Japan.

As its name suggests, the thai gamefowl originated in Thailand. Given Thailand's native name of Siam, the thai gamefowl is also sometimes referred to as the siamese fowl. The Thais, however, prefer their native term for this breed: "Gaichon."

This breed is relatively common in Thailand and small flocks of these birds can be found on most Thai rural farms, where they are usually allowed to free range or to live as semi-feral birds. These farmyard gaichon are often treated no differently from the average egg or meat-breeds of chicken, both in terms of their uses and their value. At the other, much smaller end of this spectrum are the hyper-specialized game farms that breed highly exclusive, pedigreed lineages of these birds. As they are the product of many long years of careful breeding and selection, these gaichon tend to be far more highly valued than their farmyard cousins, with each young bird easily capable of fetching prices of ten thousand baht or more.

Compared to other oriental game breeds, the thai gamefowl can be considered a medium breed in terms of both size and build. This breed tends to have a more robust build than the burmese, which is probably the lightest of all the asian game breeds, but is not as large or ponderous as the Indian asil. When it comes to weight, fully grown thai roosters will range from 6.5 to 8.5 lbs, with some outliers to either end. This breed is built for speed, and, along with the burmese, is among the quickest and most agile of all oriental game breeds.

Thai gamefowl tend to carry themselves slightly erect, with the tail at about 45 degrees to the position of the body. There are, however, many exceptions to this very general rule. There is also a lot of variability when it comes to body proportions. Some birds are stout, although most are relatively long-legged. Some are thickly-set, while others are not. Some have long necks and some have short necks. Even within the same family line there could be a lot of variability with regard to body proportions.

Eye color for this breed may be light blue, pearl, yellow, or orange. Beak and feet color can be slate, black, blue, green, white, pearl, or yellow. Most thai gamefowl have peacombs, although single combs and other comb styles are also present. Some notable traits that certain thai gamefowl lineages carry include:

  • Muffed/Bearded
  • Feathered Feet - Birds that express this trait will have feathers growing out from between the scales of their feet.
  • Hennie - Roosters that exhibit this trait will have a plumage that resembles a hen's plumage.
Sources: Web. Used here for illustrative purposes only. We do not own these photos or the birds depicted in them.

The thai gamefowl has a wide variety of colors and plumage patterns. There are spangles, speckleds, black, brown, gold, white, gray, blue, and so on. Many of the main colors and plumage patterns are uniquely named and are represented in the Thai's standard of perfection for this breed.

Out of all the current recognized gaichon variants, the two most prominent by far are the Pradu Hang Dam (Dark Black Tail) and Leung Hang Khao (Yellow White Tail). Although their names are color-oriented, the distinctions between many of these variants often extend much deeper, as a number of them originate from specific parts of Thailand and hold significant historical and traditional importance in their places of origin. The best example of this is the Leung Hang Khao variant of northern Thailand, which is said to have descended from the very rooster kept by King Naresuan.

There are currently many associations and clubs within Thailand that are dedicated to promoting the thai gamefowl. Some of these organizations are geared toward the fighting aspects of this breed, while others 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.

In its native land, the thai gamefowl is known as gaichon (alt. spelling: kaichon). "Gai" means "chicken," while "chon" means "battle" or "fight." - a testament to the heritage of this breed.

"Soom" means "chicken coop" - which is why some thai sites pertaining to these birds have "soom" in their titles.

Today, this breed can be found in virtually all corners of Southeast Asia. Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and even Vietnam and Indonesia have significant populations of thai gamefowl. 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.

A look at Thai Gamefowl in Thailand via Flickr...
Gaichon statues. These statues are modeled after the Leung Hang Khao, which in Thailand is the most popular and revered of the gaichon variants due to its prominent place in Thai history. From what I've been told, not being Thai myself, these statues are used by the Thai as offerings (as they apparently are in the photo above) and as guardians for temples, shrines and for homes, often placed near the entranceways to ward off bad spirits and bad luck.
roosters for sale
Gaichon baskets. These are mainly used to house individual adult birds, although the larger baskets can hold multiple adult birds or a hen and her chicks.
Big red rooster
two chickens in our yard
A trio of black gaichon. This rooster appears to be a hennie, which is a male rooster that exhibits a hen-like plumage of short feathers rather than the usual bright, long-feathered plumage of normal roosters.
the king
IFSELH Project (22-0510-20)
A cock and hen story
Roosters, 8 October 2009 007 M
Feeding Roosters Khlong on Soi Long Tha Thailand
This silver duckwing plumage pattern is more closely associated with the burmese breed than with the thai breed, but some thais actually do exhibit this plumage pattern as well. Given that this rooster's overall build is thai, he could even be a true thai gamefowl, or at the least, a cross between thai and burmese. It's hard to tell.
Ayutthaya rooster Rooster & Hen
Roosters at San Pa Tong market, northern Thailand Thailand 381 IMG_0890
Ubiquitous Asian Rooster
A thai rooster exhibiting the high single comb.
Koh Lanta, kalastajakylš big scary rooster
Rooster Ko Panyi
A golden thai rooster. In the US, this color is more closely associated with the brazilian breed of gamefowl. But the thai breed has this color as well.
Pretty rooster- Joe made friends and gave him food Morning Dwellers.
Roosters A typical thai rooster Street Rooster
Roosters Roosters in Hand-Made Cage on Farm in Rural Thailand Phi Phi island
Rooster at San Pa Tong market, northern Thailand Thai Fighting Rooster fiery Thai roosters
Thai Rooster rooster rooster cam
Island Residents Rooster Rooster at market
Treehouse Chickens Boy with his pet rooster washing cock
Rooster Roosters at the bus station Pai Thailand Hen And Chicks
regal chickens P1080413 Nicky and friend
Rooster 2006_0613Thailand0125
Chickens were roaming the streets chickens Chickens
a cock for fighting Ko Chang Chicken chicken
Ban Naudom 16 vibrant chicken run Farm - Chiang Mai - 13.jpg
funny little chickens Boy - Chiang Mai, Thailand Chooks
090430-016 Village Chickens P1080484
DSC_2166 Chickens on Burma Railway fighting cocks
Thailand roosters for fighting Stupid rooster.
Bangkok, Thailand Bangkok - Wat Chana Songkhram 101  
* All photos shown above are the properties of their respective owners, and are shown here via the linking and sharing options provided by Flickr.
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