Tuesday, February 27Food Security Matters

Warhorse Gamefowl Breed Profile

Warhorse Gamefowl is an American breed of chicken originating in the Southern United States. These birds were developed primarily for cockfighting and have been raised by cockfighters and gamecock breeders for more than 200 years.

Warhorse Gamefowl are characterized by their solid build, powerful legs, and deep chest. They come in many colors, including yellow, buff, silver, gray, and black. These chickens typically weigh between five and eight pounds, with roosters usually weighing slightly more than hens.

Warhorse Gamefowl are exceptionally hardy birds that can live up to 10 years if cared for properly. They are alert and active, often foraging for food in flocks. On average, these chickens lay about 150 eggs per year.

warhorse gamefowl
Warhorse rooster and hen (image credit Grassy Holler Gamefowl)

Origin and History of Warhorse Gamefowl

In the early days of cockfighting, the Whitehackles of North Briton and the Stone Irish, or Warhorses of Ireland, were the two most popular gamefowl species from Britain. American breeders considered these two bloodlines to be the only true source of pure stock available to them.

In 1855, when John Stone of Marblehead, Mass. paid a visit to his friend Colonel Tom Bacon in Columbia, S.C., the two men went head-to-head in a derby duel. Stone used two breeds of cocks – including one he called his “Irish Brown Reds” – and was victorious. However, on his journey, he encountered a disagreement with one of his handlers so he quit the sport and gave away his trio of “Stone Irish” birds to an American-Irishman cocker called Peter Sherron. Upon further investigation of the gamefowls’ history, Sherron discovered that these birds originated from the old country and were deemed unbeatable due to their winning record; Stone’s Irish agent had obtained them from an estate that had been preserving them for over a century. The story goes that a warden of the estate traded the trio for an American raccoon and opossum which were procured by Stone’s agent before crossing the pond.

Sherron’s victory at Augusta’s cockfighting circuit was a resounding success. Store Keeper, a broodstag sired by one of the Stone Brown Reds, had the peculiar habit of crowing when the town clock tolled. When Store Keeper and his opponent met in the pit, they fought ferociously until the clock struck 10 o’clock. Upon hearing this sound, Store Keeper roused himself and made a last-ditch effort to reclaim supremacy; he succeeded and emerged victorious over his defeated foe. Old Sherron was ecstatic and proudly declared “Listen to the old Warhorse!” His exuberance was well worth it – Store Keeper had delivered on his master’s expectations!

The betting action was intense when this pair of cocks came into the pit fight. People made seemingly impossible wagers, and the “Store Keeper” ended up overpowering his adversary. Above the din, Sherron’s words cut through: “And isn’t he a Warhorse?” The underdog fights quickly spread around, and “Old Warhorse” became renowned throughout the southern cockfighting scene.

After Peter Sherron passed away in 1869, Jack Allen took over the stock of Irish fowl bred by him and christened them Warhorse. Henry Hicks was the one managing them until one day, he had been given away a sick bird following a matchup and this made Allen furious. On his way home, he came across Harrison Butler and Jim Clark and shared his intentions with them. Consequently, the next day, Butler acquired all the Warhorses and presented three each to Clark of Dawson (Ga), Col. John Fair, and his nephew Dr. Pierce Butler.

Warhorse Gamefowl Fighting Style

Warhorse gamefowls are mainly dark-feathered and black with a few mahogany or brown feathers in the hackle or saddle. They fight like Brown Reds, fast killers, and deadly slashers.

Warhorse Breeders in the Philippines

Warhorse is a popular gamefowl bloodline but not many breeders in the Philippines tend to breed this cock. There are several Warhorse breeders in the Philippines.

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