It was almost 50 years ago when...

A handful of Americans dedicated to preserving the presence of small flocks of gamefowl on their farms and homeplaces banned together in an effort to counter those who would take away their right to raise and keep gamefowl.

This handful of Americans formed the non-profit United Gamefowl Breeders Association, Inc. for the purpose of organizing gamefowl breeders for their mutual benefit, for the exchange of ideas toward perpetuation of the species, improvement in breeding and care of flocks, and for insuring the health and continued existence of the various bloodlines of gamefowl.

In the nearly fifty years that has passed since the founding of the UGBA, the handful has multiplied and the UGBA organization now represents thousands of gamefowl breeders across the nation. UGBA members avidly support and participate in the American Poultry Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture National Poultry Improvement Program, and other national, state, and local efforts to identify, control, and/or eradicate disease in gamefowl flocks. The economic benefit of the gamefowl industry to the United States can be measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars through the purchase of feed and supplies and the selling of valuable breeding stock.

The UGBA presently sponsors and promotes gamefowl shows where our members proudly exhibit spectacular fowl. It is easy to see why this proud bird was given consideration by our founding fathers when they were choosing a National emblem. The Bald Eagle edged out the gamecock by only ONE vote. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln and many other great leaders of the United States of America were gamefowl breeders and were advocates of freedom and the rights of individuals. Clearly, gamefowl have been an important part of our American heritage. The United Gamefowl Breeders Association is dedicated to preserving this heritage.

The United Gamefowl Breeders wish to remind everyone that freedom is fragile and can only be preserved by vigilance and continual efforts to educate those who may have the power to take away those freedoms. Freedom will be lost if a species which is the result of thousands of years of evolution is legislated out of existence. Please support our efforts to perpetuate the legitimate breeding and raising of this noble bird.


About the UGBA

The organization consists of members, annually elected officers, a Board of Directors and a Director of Public Relations.

The members of the organization include gamefowl breeders and others who recognize the importance of preserving the gamefowl industry and this unique breed of fowl. The officers are elected annually by the general membership at the UGBA Annual Meeting and consist of a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. The organization is controlled and managed by the Board of Directors, composed of the officers of the UGBA and one representative designated from each state affiliate. The Director of Public Relations serves as the spokesperson for the UGBA.

  • Carl Hendershot~ President ~ 304-482-5720 (WV)

  • Keith Higgins~ Vice President ~ 573-659-1790 (MO)

  • Bucky Harless~ Secretary ~ 209-588-1999 (CA)

  • Eddie Hartrampf ~ Treasurer ~ 503-209-7278 (OR)

  • Bucky Harless (CA) ~ Public Relations Director

    Executive Board includes the above officers plus:

    • Dwayne Ard (SC)

    • David Thurston (NC)

    • Greg Landwehr (MO)

    • Greg Landwehr ~ Administrative Assistant ~ 573-934-5771 (MO)


What Are Gamefowl?

The gamefowl heritage can be traced to the Red Jungle Fowl the ancestor of domesticated chickens. Jungle fowl- any of four Asian birds of the genus Gallus, family Phasianidae (order Galliformes). Gallus species differ from other members of the pheasant family in having, in the male, a fleshy comb, lobed wattles hanging below the bill, and high-arched tail. The red jungle fowl (G. gallus) is the ancestor of the domestic fowl. The cock has shining silky plumage, red on the head and back and green-black elsewhere—a pattern seen also in several domestic breeds. The hen is rusty brown with speckled neck and minimal comb. Males meet in a selected arena—natural precursor of the gamecock pit, where they use their sharp leg spurs in combat, often to the death. In courtship display, the male drops one wing and tilts his head, mantle, and back—his most colorful parts—toward the hen; the domestic rooster behaves similarly. Jungle fowl seem to be monogamous under normal circumstances. The hen lays 5–8 buff colored eggs in a clutch before setting.

The gray jungle fowl (G. sonnerati), of southern India, may also have contributed to the ancestry of the domestic fowl, which in some breeds shows a similar grayish and white pattern. Other species inhabit parts of India and are found also in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Java, and some Indonesian islands. -"Jungle Fowl." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2003-Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 16 Sep, 2003.

There are many varieties of gamefowl, all admired for their beauty, strength, health and longevity. Currently, gamefowl are much in demand as exhibition poultry. In the past, gamefowl have provided the genetic foundation for many of our most popular varieties of production, broiler, layer and show fowl. Since early history, gamefowl have been an inspiration to man through their courage, beauty and spirit. There is a saying that among the 20 qualities such as courage that humans should possess, four should be acquired from the gamefowl.

The dubbing of gamefowl (removal of the comb and wattles) is a practice followed by many in the poultry industry. Dubbing is good animal husbandry and all poultry show rules call for it. Dubbing prevents damage done by frostbite and provides better vision. It reduces injuries incurred when the comb comes in contact with feeder and water grills, and wires in cages and pens. Dubbing also helps prevent the spread of mosquito born illnesses. The dubbing of gamefowl is in no way any indication of whether or not that bird is being used for fighting purposes. Gamefowl will most often have their spurs trimmed as well. This is also good animal husbandry. Contrary to popular belief this is not done to attach weapons. The spurs are hard, pointed and naturally very sharp. Trimming of the spurs of male birds prevents laceration to the backs of females during mating. Sometimes these injuries are severe enough to cause the death of the female. If the spur is allowed to grow, it can inhibit a cock's ability to walk, as well, resulting in straddle legs and occasionally in overgrowing back into the male’s leg. Cocks have also been known to catch their untrimmed spurs in the wire of their cages which can cripple a rooster if he is hanging for a length of time. Cutting the spurs also prevents injuries to humans, such as caretakers and judges during handling of the birds. The spur is very porous and harbors millions of bacteria. A slight scratch from the spur can result in a serious infection to a human. To minimize the chance of injuries all show rules call for the spur to be trimmed as a safety precaution.

Gamefowl will normally be housed in separate pens or tethered with cords attached to tepees or barrels. Tethering is the most convenient and economical method of keeping the males separated and at the same time providing the most natural environment for health, body and feather to develop. Tethering is more economical as this does not require near as much material for shelter. Tethering requires less space, allows for easier moving to fresh ground, and decreases the risk of having the feathers damaged by wire for show purposes.

The males of the species are separated to prevent fighting which, is a genetic instinct handed down from their ancestors. This instinct is not unique to the gamefowl as all chickens are descended from the Red Jungle Fowl and have a natural fighting instinct. However, the breeds raised by gamefowl breeders represent strains with a truer genetic relationship to the Red Jungle Fowl. This instinct for fighting is inherited. It is not something that can be “bred” or “trained” into the birds. Soon after hatching, a pecking order among the chicks is established which remains in the flock until they "come of age". The coming of age or "getting cocky" as some people call it is a separate and completely different phenomenon than the pecking order. This is reminiscent of a teenager’s puberty. This can occur as young as 4 months of age or as late as 18 months of age depending on the particular breed. Males in a flock that have been free ranging on the yard together peacefully will suddenly begin to challenge other males in the flock and fighting begins. Males must be separated to prevent injury or death. Most breeders will tell you this usually happens after a rain, possibly because the male no longer recognizes yard mates after becoming wet.

During the lifespan of gamefowl, they will shed and re-grow their feathers yearly. This is similar to the way a dog or cat sheds their fur during the summer months. The shedding of the feathers is called molting. Gamefowl do not like to be handled during the molt, as this can be very irritating to them. The absence of some of the feathers indicates the bird is molting and does not indict that bird has been used for fighting.

While there are some exceptions, the gamecock is only aggressive to other gamecocks, not aggressive toward humans or other animals. Gamefowl can be kept with pets and livestock, as they are very compatible. Gamefowl, however, will aggressively defend themselves against predators and can do so very effectively. Gamefowl fit into the rural community environment and cohabit in a most natural way with humans and other domestic animals.

The gamecock is a very beautiful bird with brightly colored shimmering feathers. No artist’s paint brush, or any photographer's lens has ever been able to capture the magnificent colors in the plumage of the gamecock. The gamecock with its long flowing streamers is something that must be viewed with the human eye to be truly appreciated. The feathers of the gamecock are used in jewelry making, costumes, decorations, tribal wear, pens and fishing lures. Gamefowl are a significant part of our heritage and culture and have been since the beginning of our country. History records that except for one vote the gamecock would have become our national symbol. The preservation of gamefowl is a must and should be protected for future generations.

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