Asil Chicken: The greatest fighter

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Asil Chicken(Aseel Chicken) is a known breed originating from India and known for its gameness. Asil is heavier than they appear because of their tight-fitting feathers. They have compact bodies and are very muscular, with a pea comb. This breed requires a lot of room and range.

The males are very territorial and will be aggressive to other male chickens and they need to be separated by 3 months of age. The Asil chicken is found on the Indian sub-continent and is probably the world’s oldest gamefowl breed. The meaning of the names Asil, Aseel or Asli is “purebred” or “from pure descent.”

Asil Chicken Fighting Video

The Asil chicken recognized varieties are :

  1. Peela (Golden red)
  2. Yakub (Black and red)
  3. Nuri (White), Kagar (Black)
  4. Chitta (Black and white spotted)
  5. Java (Black)
  6. Sabja (White and golden or black with yellow or silver)
  7. Teekar (brown)
  8. Reza (light red).

Asil is one of the important indigenous chicken breeds of India and is well known for its pugnacity, majestic gait, agility, high stamina, and dogged fighting qualities. The home track of Asil chickens is the state of Andhra Pradesh; however, the birds are present in parts of other states like Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

The Asil hens are poor layers but have excellent broodiness traits and are quite formidable in the protection of their young ones under free-range conditions. Eight variants of Asil breed were reported in India of which, Asil(Yellow) and Asil (Black) are commonly available. These birds are characterized by their hardiness and ability to thrive under adverse climatic conditions.

The productivity is low in Asil chickens, but the birds are known for their meat quality with desirable taste and flavor. The native chicken meat is known for intense flavor, firm texture, low fat, and rich nutrients.

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In India, this breed has been known for thousands of years. The great poultry author, Lewis Wright, stated, “…the birds whose battles are alluded to in the Institutes of Menu [a legal document], 1000 BC, if not Aseel as now known, were at least their ancestors.” The first Aseels imported into the United States came from Lucknow, India, and were imported by Dr. H.P. Clarke of Indianapolis, IN. Dr. Clarke first exhibited the breed at the 1887 Indiana State Fair. Dr. D.S. Newill of PA also imported Aseel chickens from India in 1931. The breed was known in England by 1846 and may have arrived earlier.

There are no specific colors for the Asil although there are white, partridge mottled, wheaten, fawn, black white mottled, dark red, red wheaten, grey, spangled, duck wing, pile, and silver necked blue varieties.

Asil Chicken Characteristics

CHARACTERISTICS – the crow of the Aseel is unlike that of any other breed, being short as if cut off at the end. The plumage has little or no under the fluff. The weight of an adult male in proper condition should not exceed 3 Kilograms (7 Lbs). The hen with exemptions for sex-typical physical points should resemble the male in all points. The Aseel, when tickled or touched lightly near the vent at once, begins to preen and oil its feathers. This characteristic behavior applies in a lesser degree to birds who are only a remote cross with Asil blood.

The purebred Aseel hens go with their chicks from 6 months to 1 year. This unlike the ordinary hens doing this for 6 weeks. Aseel hens lay around 2 clutches of eggs in a year.

The Asil will fight to the end. It was bred to fight using its strength and its own spurs. Other gamefowls were sometimes equipped with artificial (metal) spurs to inflict the most damage but the spurs on the Asil were often wrapped in tape so the fight became one of endurance, sometimes lasting more than a day.

“The birds whose battles are alluded to in the Institutes of Menu [a legal document], 1000 BC, if not Aseel as now known, were at least their ancestors.”

Lewis Wright

They also have short, strong, well-curved beaks, a broad skull, fierce, pale eyes, and indomitable spirit.

Aseel chickens are so pugnacious that hens will often fight each other for hours; even the day-old chicks have been noted to spar each other and chicks of other breeds – sometimes to the point of wounding other chicks. Though aggressive to other chickens, Aseels are quite personable to their handlers.

Aseels are vigorous and tenacious survivors and are suitable for use on the range.

The hens are poor and seasonal layers of brown-shelled eggs, but make excellent broodies and mothers, being quite formidable in the protection of their young. There are reports of Asil hens fighting off snakes in the protection of their eggs or chicks.

Both males and females have short and hard feathers, which are held tightly to their bodies. They have a meaty carcass and are slow-growing. The males have a very distinctive, short, chopped-off crow.

The breed is reported to be quite intelligent for chickens and can further be recognized for some distinct physical characteristics, such as yellow-colored legs, a hawk-like beak shape, and around the skull with eye neatly in the center.

The Asil is also noted for having a large heart for body size, as well as short intestines – when compared to other chicken breeds.

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originally kept for cockfighting but today kept for ornamental purposes. Despite their history, Asil chickens are said to be friendly when kept apart from another malechicken.

The females do not lay very well at all but make wonderful mothers as they are apt to become broody and make excellent sitters and protective mothers.

Laying depends on the Asil variety, but in general, larger Asil can lay around 40 eggs per year, and smaller varieties may lay much less. The chicks are slow to mature and will often fight with each other from a very early age. These need to be broken up quickly as they will fight to the death if given the chance.

Asil chickens need plenty of space to allow escape during disputes. Despite being fighting birds, they can be tamed very easily and will eat from your hand quite happily.

They prefer dry conditions and do not do well in a cold climate. They are not particularly flighty despite their strength. They are rare birds now and totally pure Asils are hard to find.

Males weigh in around 4-6lbs while the females are 3-5lbs.

A feisty breed, Asil youngsters will often spar from just a few weeks old. Hens can be aggressive with one another and mature males will fight to the death so special management of stock is required in order to keep them separated. They are generally not aggressive towards humans although care should be taken with males as with any breed.

Though slow-growing, Aseels have been used very successfully to crossbreed to produce very meaty carcasses on the offspring. In fact, Aseels were used to create the Cornish chicken, and so maybe said to be the original source of the genes that give today’s commercial broilers their meaty proportions.

Using Asil chicken strain the Japanese came up with Shamo chicken. The second tallest chicken breed. Also, Shamo became one of the best game chicken in Japan.

Asil Chicken Breed Standards

BEAK – short, thick, powerful, the color of ivory and shutting tight. The upper mandible should be straight.

EYES – bright, rather prominent, iris white and pearl-like, the eyelids a pointed oval, a yellow or bloodshot tinge in the irises is seen in some birds.

COMB – pea or triple comb, short, thick and low (except “Bihangam” strain).

WATTLES – totally absent (except “Bihangam” strain).Face and earlobes red.

HEAD – large and slightly elongated like that of a mongoose, jawbone, and cheekbones large, lean covered with a little flesh, the skin tough, the throat not prominent and with as little dewlap as possible, the hackle feathers beginning low beneath it in front.

NECK – medium length, inclined to short, the neck bone next to the skull prominent, thus giving it the shape of a cobra’s open hood. The neck bones small, the ridges fleshless, thick to feel, especially 2 or 3 inches (5 to 7½ Cm) below the head. On the whole strong like an iron rod, covered with wiry feathers.

BACK – broad and flat. Viewed from above back and wings are heart-shaped.

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WINGS – carried well apart from the body and held high in a fit bird. They must be muscular and fleshless, with hard strong rather strong quill feathers.

CHEST – Thrown out, wide, muscular, hard, the flesh showing through the feathers on breast, thighs and shoulder joints.

STERN – The belly small, “the Pope’s Nose” large, broad and very strong (IMPORTANT POINT !), the sickle feathers narrow, scimitar-shaped, wiry, pointed, droop from the base, less curved than other breeds, feathers iridescent, not carried above the horizontal, close together, but not shut up, cloak and saddle feathers pointing backward than in other breeds, though, pointed and beautiful.

BODY – compact and muscular

THIGHS – Not too long, large, round, hard muscular, and sparsely feathered (the flesh often shining through), in line with the body, and not so wide as his wings when the bird faces you, as such a bird would be unable to strike properly.

LEGS – Thick and square, down the front, not round in matured birds. The meeting of the scales makes a straight line slightly indented. White is the only color acceptable, but the legs often turn yellow due to the feeding of green plants.

TOES – Straight, thick, yet tapering and strong, nails very broad, strong, curved and white.

APPEARANCE – the carriage of the Aseel has to be upright, standing firmly and well on its legs, the bird handsome, sprightly and shapely, and quick as a cobra in its movements. A standing bird viewed from the side should have its eye and middle toenail in a parallel line.

ASIL CHICKEN WEIGHT 

Male 1.80kg to 2.70kg (4lbs to 6lbs)

Female 1.35kg to 2.25kg (3lbs to 5lbs)

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Asil Chicken Breed Classification

Asil family is really huge and there are many different classifications based on its place of origin, structure, color, size, etc. There are more than 500 varieties of Asil types found. There are are also thousands of sub-varieties and every day through cross-breeding and selective-breeding new varieties are being created.

The classification is based on size and Purpose.

Classification 1: They can be divided into two main groups, the small Reza type (Rajah-type) and the large Asil type(Kulang Asil)

Classification 2: Fighters and ornamental

There are certain types of Asil which are mainly grown for ornamental purpose but they can also fight if trained properly because they were selectively bred from fighting type of Asil.

They are very beautiful in nature and native to South India especially Tamil Nadu, India.

They sometimes resemble the shape of a peacock. There are also many varieties in it. Eg. Fantails or longtails, Parrot beaks with long tails. Long-tail Asils are also found in other parts of Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, etc. but they are not like the one which is found in Tamil Nadu.

1.Reza Asil

The Reza is a small Asil with a weight not exceeding a weight of about 3 Kg (6.6 Lbs). This group of Asil reached worldwide popularity due to books and articles written by the English gamefowl expert Herbert Atkinson, Siran and Paul Deraniyagala from Sri Lanka and Carlos Finsterbusch from Chile.

The Reza Asil family according to the old (Western) gamefowl literature is subdivided into the following strains: (Amir) Ghan, Sonatol, (Siyah) Rampur, Kalkatiya (Kaptan) and Jawa

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All these strains are identified by their specific color. In chronological order: black reds, light reds, black, speckled reds and silver duck wings. In the old days (colonial times) other colors such as whites, spangles, etcetera were regarded as -inferiors. According Herbert Atkinson purebred Asil should not exceed the weight of 3 Kg (6.6 Lbs). At present day the “classic” strains and names given mentioned by Atkinson are more or less forgotten. Anyone with a bit of breeding experience will understand that after many decades the vitality of a bloodline slowly will be prone to degeneration.

2.Kulang Asil

The Kulang Asil family when it comes to classification is a tricky league. In the older Western gamefowl literature, like Carlos Finsterbusch’s “Cockfighting all over the World” (1938) following varieties are mentioned: Hyderabad, Calcutta, and Madras. Asil experts from the homelands use a more “modern” classification system.

The large Asil are divided into sub-varieties: North Indian, South Indian and Madras type. The North and South Indian varieties don’t differ much. The only type of comb, shape of the beak and body shape is different. For example, Northern type = slender, Southern type = heavier build), the Madras Asil, however, is significantly different.

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3.Madras Asil

Madras Asil has a lower station, are heavier build and stronger bone. This variety is found in the deep south of India, the Tamil Nadu state.

In the homelands of the Kulang Asil, the birds reach weights from about 4 to 6 Kg (8.8 to 13 Lbs). Kulang Asil outside the Asil homelands and neighboring countries generally differ in weight getting ±4,5 to 5,5 Kg (9.9 to 12.1 Lbs). Exemptions to the rule are possible as weight is influenced by various conditions.

4.Malay Asil

The Malay is a Kulang Asil sub-variety. The Malays were never originated in Malaysia. The Malay is found to have descended from Large Asils found in south India states (Kerala and Tamil Nadu states). The people of Kerala speak Malayalam (mæləˈjɑːləm) mala meaning mountain and alam meaning land and they are called as Malayalis thus the name Malay originated. These are also high stationed and they have walnut combs too. Malays in India reach heights of up to 85 Cm (33 Inches) and weigh between 4.5 to 6 Kg (9.9 to 13.2 Lbs) ).

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5.BANTAM ASIL

Bantam Asil has been created at the end of the 19th century by an English breeder named William Flamank Entwisle. The breed got very popular after its creation but after a couple of decades interest in this variety slowly died out. Bantam Asil appeared in the Dutch poultry standard of 1920 in several colors.

Till the beginning of the 1980s, nothing was heard about these little Asil. A Belgian breeder named Willy Coppens created them again using Ko Shamo, Indian Game Bantams, and Reza Asil. After this successful introduction, German breeders like Andreas Nielsen and Hartmut Vieregge worked with the breed which resulted in recognition into the German standard.

The breed was also introduced again in Holland and the United Kingdom. At present-day Bantam, Asil is quite popular and they are bred in various colors. Weight max.750 Gram (1.65 Lb).

Asil Chicken

  • Purpose and Type: Ornamental, meat; Exhibition
  • Egg Shell Color: Cream or Tinted
  • Egg Production: Poor
  • Egg Size: Small
  • Comb type: Pea comb
  • Egg color: Tinted
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Fertility Percentage: 40-55%
  • Broody: Setter
  • Mating Ratio: 4 Pullets to 1 Cockerel
  • Roost Height: 4 to 6 feet
  • Use: Meat, ornamental and cockfighting
  • Country of Origin: India

Of late, there is a growing interest in native chickens among farmers because of their hardiness, ability to thrive under adverse conditions and the desired taste and flavor of their eggs and meat. Considerable genetic erosion is occurring because of the introduction of improved hybrid chicken varieties in the breeding tracts of recognized breeds leading to dilution of genetic purity or replacement of the breeds, which has brought Asil chicken under threat of extinction.

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