Modern Games

"Coriander," a Black Breasted Red Modern Game cock
Photo courtesy of Shahbazin

Text by Shahbazin / J. Floyd

The Modern Game was developed strictly for exhibition, rather than utility traits. Nevertheless, they are decent layers, and can make good broodies, as well (see 1996 APA Yearbook for an article on natural incubation; some of the hens this gentleman uses are Moderns.) I am familiar with the large, rather than the bantam size Moderns--the bantams are etherial looking creatures that have been bred to a high degree of artistic perfection, and are frequently found on Championship row at shows.

The breed was admitted to the American Standard in 1874, and was developed in England from the Old English Game in the 1850's, after the outlawing of cockfighting and the development of exhibition as a new & popular sport. At the breed's peak in the 1890's, there were as many as 299 entries at famous English shows, but the high prices for breeding stock (100 English pounds at the turn of the century, for a single bird, was not unusual), resulting in only a few fanciers having them; the fact that the only reason for its existence was as a show bird; and the criticisms from OE fanciers may have been factors in the decline of popularity for the large Moderns.

Moderns are handsome birds, resembling some of the more attenuated sculptures by the modern sculptor, Lladro. They have exceedingly long legs and neck, a tiny tail and a compact body between. The males are dubbed (comb, wattles, & lobes trimmed) upon reaching adulthood, resulting in a streamlined, elegant head. Hens have a small straight comb. Colors are dramatic and varied, including: Black Breasted Red, Blue Breasted Red, Silver Duckwing, Golden Duckwing, Birchen, Brown Red, Pyle, Lemon Blue, Silver Blue, Blue, Black, and White. Most of these require green legs (Pyle & White have yellow, and some of the darker varieties have black).

In personality, my Moderns are curious, pleasant birds, the males being well behaved towards me and easy to handle, the hens being alert little busybodies. They get along well with the other birds, tending to be fairly mild in temperment (compared to the large OEs). The cockerels look rather absurd with their exaggerated, coltish legs, stalking pompously around the feed area, chugging off in a ridiculous gallop to some suddenly more interesting spot. The pullets seem more refined, pattering about like a bunch of sandpipers. I think that the large birds are more dramatic looking than the bantams--the sheer height of them is remarkable. I have spindly babies from this spring who tower over my adult OEs. The breed has a nice clean, streamlined look--no feathered feet, crests or bulky feathers to keep clean, only hard, shining feathers to polish with a silk cloth before showing. The males do require dubbing, at around 8 months; but this is really quite easy to do (I dubbed my first bird when I was 11 years old), prevents frostbite in cold climates, and, once a bird is trimmed, it doesn't grow back. I'm quite fond of the breed, and whether their extreme type appeals to you or not, a well-bred Modern can be mistaken for nothing else!

Modern Game bantams are also very popular.

New Book: Modern Game Standards (for the UK)

Breed clubs:

The Modern Game Bantam Club of America
Bonnie Sallee
POB 697
Pine Grove, CA 95665

Modern Game Club UK
Emily de Gray

Modern Links:

Shahbazin's large Modern page

A page from Germany on large Moderns.

Another shot of "Coriander"
Photo courtesy of Shahbazin

Crossbreed Blue Breasted Red
"Ash" is a first generation cross between Modern and Old English games
Photo courtesy of Shahbazin

Two large Black Modern Games and a Splash, hanging out with a Vorwerk
Photo courtesy of a friend in the UK

"Crystal," A large Splash Modern Game pullet, with some Vorwerks
Photo courtesy of a friend in the UK

A Birchen Modern Game cockerel
Photo courtesy of Rupert Stephenson

A large Red Pyle male

Birchen and Blue Large Modern pullets
Photo courtesy of Shahbazin

Red Pyle (left) and Wheaten Modern Game roosters
Photos courtesy of Ed Vasquez

A pair of Wheaten Modern Games
Photos courtesy of Rupert Stephenson

This is "Jennifer," my Blue Modern hen
Photo courtesy of Ginger Carson

[Chickens D-O]


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