Saturday, May 18Food Security Matters

Asil Chicken Breed History and Characteristics

The Aseel or Asil chicken is an ancient, exotic, and beautifully designed chicken breed and is very popular in the Philippines. It was developed in India and Pakistan for the sole purpose of cockfighting. They have compact, extremely muscular bodies held in a distinctive upright position, and are much heavier than they appear. Aseels also have short, strong, and well-curved beaks, as well as broad skulls, fierce, pale eyes, and an indomitable spirit.

Asil Chicken Background

The breed is so pugnacious that hens will often fight each other for hours. Even the day-old chicks have been seen sparing each other and chicks of other breeds – sometimes to the point of wounding them. Though aggressive to other chickens, Aseels are quite personable to their handlers. It’s their pugnacious nature and great stamina that have garnered these chickens worldwide respect.

asil chicken
Asil roster

The name Aseel, also spelled Asil and Azeel, translates to “pure” or “thoroughbred” in Arabic and “high-born, high caste, pure, and original” in Hindi. In India, the name was originally applied to any chicken that was found to be genuinely game. Being given the name “Aseel” is a sign of the great respect held for the breed.

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 Pennsylvania also imported Aseel chickens from India in 1931. The breed was known in England by 1846 and may have arrived earlier.

Asil Chicken Characteristics

Aseels are vigorous and tenacious survivors who are suitable for use on the range. 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. Reports show Aseel 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 said to be quite intelligent for a chicken and can be further recognized for some distinct physical characteristics, such as yellow-colored legs, a hawk-like beak, and a round skull with eyes neatly centered. The Aseel is also noted for having a large heart for body size and short intestines when compared to other chicken breeds.

Though slow-growing, Aseels have been used successfully in crossbreeding to produce very meaty carcasses in their offspring. Aseels were used to create the Cornish chicken and are said to be the source of the genes that give today’s commercial broilers their meaty proportions.

The Aseel is recognized by the American Poultry Association and was admitted as a standard breed in 1981 in the following colors: Black Breasted Red (Wheaten), Dark, Spangled, and White.

Many organizations recognize and have established a standard for the Aseel chicken.

More Aseel Features

First, they don’t look as fluffy as an average chicken. The Aseels don’t seem to have that much fluff that makes other chickens look heavier than they are. Ironically, these chickens look lighter than they appear. They are actually on the heavier side and weigh around 4.5 lbs. Furthermore, without all those extra layers of plumage, you can clearly see that they are on the muscular side.

Additionally, they also have such beautiful tails to display, which sometimes reach such great lengths. Those with such long tails look like they’re sporting their very own cape.

Their parts meant for thermoregulation (i.e., wattles and combs) are almost nonexistent. However, you might not even notice that at first glance once you see their fierce and fiery gaze.

The Aseel chicken holds itself with such confidence and elegance. It has a distinctive stance that clearly shows that it is always ready for battle. One look at these birds, and one would know not to mess with them.

There are many varieties of Asil. Among them are the Amroha, Bhaingam, Kilimooku, Kulang, Lasani, Madras, Mianwali, Reza, and Sindhi types.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Aseel Chicken

Is Aseel an Indian breed?

Aseel is an important native chicken breed of India, known for its martial qualities (aggressive fighting abilities), pugnacity, and majestic gait. The study aims to conserve and characterize the Aseel germplasm, which is considered to be endangered.

Do Aseel hens lay eggs?

Aseel hens are broody but only lay a few eggs per year.

What is Aseel Rooster?

Aseel chicken (also spelled Asil or Asli) is an ancient breed of chicken from India. Asil roosters are originally kept for cockfighting, but nowadays they are also kept for ornamental purposes. Asil chickens were brought to Europe around 1750. They are considered the strongest game bird in the world. Asil roosters today are very popular in the Philippines where cockfighting is still legal.

What is the difference between Shamo and Asil? Which is bigger Shamo or Asil?

Shamo is taller and less compact than the Asil chickens and lacks the exaggerated curves of the Malay chicken. The tails of the Shamo chicken are small and generally follow the line of the back sloping down to the ground. They have smaller-sized bright red colored pea comb. You can check the full comparison here.

At what age do Aseel hens start laying eggs?

The average age at first egg-laying was recorded as 157.46±1.19 days while the age at sexual maturity was recorded as 173.36±2.71 days. The average hen day egg production up to 40 and 72 weeks of age was recorded at 54.94±0.41and 167.89±1.42, respectively.

How many eggs will Aseel hen lay?

It is a layer-type variety and was developed for free-range farming in rural and tribal areas. The bird has the production potential of 230-240 eggs in a year and can lay 160-180 eggs in free-range conditions with minimum supplementary feeding.

What is Asil Gamefowl?

Well, Asils are the ancestors of the Cornish breed, so they look sort of like a more slender, athletic Cornish. The Asil developed in India as a fighting bird, but different than the English games – an Asil is like a boxer (versus a fencer) and is valued for stamina.

Which is better Shamo or Aseel?

Compared to the Shamo breed, Aseel chickens are more skilled in fighting because of their stronger body structure. Similar to the Shamo breed, the Aseel chickens also have longer legs. However, Aseel chickens do not have good layers and only lay a few eggs, which are also smaller in size.

How big do Asil chickens get?

Males weigh 5.5 lbs. and females 4 lbs. The breed is so pugnacious that hens will often fight each other for hours. Even the day-old chicks have been seen sparing each other and chicks of other breeds – sometimes to the point of wounding them.

How do I know if Aseel is pure?

It has a long and slender face that is not covered with a feather, compact eyes, a long neck, and a small tail, and has strong and straight legs. The cocks have 4-5 kg and the hen have 3-4kg, cockerels have 3.5-4.5kg and pullets have 2.5-3.5 kg standard weight.

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