Chickens Endemic to Indian
Cock-fighting Breeds of Chicken
The Malay chicken breed is a very ancient breed thought to have originated in northern India. In Asia, it is generally only seen in villages in the country areas. It has a primitive appearance with very little spare flesh on it. Nowadays it is bred purely as an ornamental bird although it is so tall that it doesn't always fit well into exhibition cages. In Indonesia, particularly the Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak regions, the Malay is known as the Sigun and is used for cock-fighting. The Malay is not particularly common and the bantam variety even less so.
The Malay has the nickname of 'May Lay' as it 'may lay' very few eggs each year. Production is now up to 70 to 120 eggs a year but this is an increase on production levels from a few years ago. The long legs are not conducive to sitting on eggs although the hens do go broody.
The Malay stands very tall and leggy. Show birds should show three distinct convex arches when viewed from the side. The neck, back and tail all show convex curves. The tail droops towards the ground. The chest is very wide and the eyes deep set and light coloured. The head is large and broad and there are deep ridges over the brow. The projecting brows and upward slanting eyes give a bold, almost cruel expression to the face. Vicious, sharp spurs which point towards the ground add to the fierce outlook of the bird.
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The comb should be set well forward and looks like half a walnut. This is sometimes called a strawberry comb. The wattles are small. Although closely feathered, the plumage is hard, short and rather scanty. Malays feel the cold and prefer a warm to hot climate.
Cocks weigh up to 9 pounds and hens about 7 pounds. They are a rugged, hardy bird and have a good lifespan. They do best on free range as they are vigorous birds. They are great diggers and need exercise to maintain muscle tone. Most are friendly with people but the roosters can be very aggressive.
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Exhibition Malays come in several varieties including black, spangled, white and black-breasted red. The Malay is a game fowl. It has yellow skin and the flesh is firm although it can be tough. Hanging the carcass for 12 to 24 hours will help dispel the toughness as will marinating or stewing the meat. Dishes utilising the Malay fowl often have plenty of herbs and spices added to enhance the flavour. Soaking meat cubes in buttermilk is also a local trick designed to allow milk acid to soften tough muscle fibres, making the meat more tender.
New birds should be introduced carefully into a flock and there should be plenty of room for victims to escape their attackers. Fighting is bound to take place from time to time. Hens are aggressively protective and will kill other chicks if she thinks they're getting too close to her own offspring. They are good eaters but should not be overfed while growing.
While Malays are not for everyone, they are certainly a distinctive bird, and look great scratching around farmyards and barns. They are bound to draw comments from your friends.