If you like your chickens wild, the Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus Gallus) is the way to go! They don’t care to make friends with their humans and prefer to disappear into nature as much as they can. This is because it is considered to be the great-great-great-great (ok you get the idea) grandfather of all domestic chickens and can still be found in the wild in the Caribbean and Asia, so they are truly wild at heart.
If you like the idea of keeping an old breed of chicken that still maintains the traits of chickens prior to domestication, you need to take a look at this pretty little breed. It may be hard to imagine chickens in the wild because they have been domesticated for over 9,000 years…but it is true, they used to go about their business without our intervention.
The Red Jungle Fowl rooster is a striking chicken to behold. He has a similar look to that of the Kellogg (Welsummer) rooster, with a smaller frame and few more color variations, and the upright posture of an Old English Game Hen.
Roosters have bright, contrasting colors that include blue-green buff, and of course a lovely iridescent blackish blue in their tail-feathers. Hens, on the other hand, are quite bland, with their brown and tan feathering. Don’t hold it against her though, she needs these colors as camouflage in the wild.
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Both male and female Red Jungle Fowl are a small breed of chicken. In the wild, these birds are quick and their size is perfect for stuffing themselves into nooks and crannies, as they hide from predators.
Next to a larger chicken, like the Brahma, the Jungle Fowl looks as if it is a bantam. This is not the case, however, and their small petite frames are just one of their special characteristics. At maturity, this chicken weighs in at a mere 4 lbs.
Despite the fact that the Red Jungle Fowl is extremely petite, hens are happy to lay medium sized eggs. No pee-wee bantam eggs here!
A hen can lay over 250 eggs per year, so she knows how to keep up with the best of them, and eggs are lightly tinted—an extremely light brown egg.
Unfortunately, Jungle Fowl hen’s production tends to slow down during the cold season, but that’s not uncommon for most hens.
Clearly the smaller the chicken, the less likely they can be used for meat. The yield on this little bird is hardly worth harvesting, but that’s not saying you couldn’t. Any chicken can be used for their meat, but if you are looking for a high yield, take a look at the Ranger chickens that some hatcheries are now offering as alternatives to the Cornish Cross Broilers.
If you had to use the Red Jungle Fowl as a meat chicken, consider it a good grilling chicken, or a “Cornish hen” caliber of chicken. Due to their skittishness and small stature, they just simply don’t supply a lot of meat for their human families.
The Red Jungle Fowl does very well in hot climates but may need a little extra insulation during the cold months. Some, who have raised this breed, suggest using heat lamps to keep them alive and well during the winter, however, they will do just fine if kept out of the bitter cold.
Here’s where the Red Jungle Fowl becomes the superstar of the backyard. These birds were literally built to be wild. They are keen in their outdoor environment and are experts at evading looming predators, and your affections for that matter.
As foragers, the Red Jungle Fowl does a fantastic job feeding herself and searches expertly for all types of proteins, seeds, berries, and other delectable vegetation.
If you are expecting to collect eggs from your Jungle Fowl, you may have to do some extra work in training them to come into the coop at night to roost and lay their eggs. Hens instinctually know the safest place for them to lay their eggs, and if they can make the decision for themselves, they will. Don’t let their opinion of your well-placed nesting box hurt your feelings, it’s nothing personal…they just know better.
Look, don’t touch—that’s the Jungle Fowl’s motto. It’s not that they are mean, they just prefer to be left alone. This breed is considered to be very skittish and wants nothing to do with human companionship. Their hesitancy to get close only makes them that much better at protecting themselves.
Why Get a Red Jungle Fowl?
The Red Jungle Fowl is considered to be a good layer, and many keep them for their eggs, but most who know a little about the breed are interested in them because of their ancestry, and ability to take care of themselves. Some fanciers swear that the breed is much more hardy, in general than other breeds of chickens. In other words, they aren’t believed to contract diseases as easily as other domesticated birds.
If you appreciate the ancestry of this bird, you may want to add one to your flock. It’s fun to watch your Jungle Fowls doing what they were built to do…destroy, erm, forage in your yard safely. In all honesty, it can be exciting to watch an expert chicken do their work by pecking, scratching, and evading prey.
It should be noted that it can be difficult to acquire Red Jungle Fowl from hatcheries, but there are a few that have them. If you know you gotta have one, or five, check into local breeders by attending some poultry shows. The breed is considered to be rare, which some fanciers love to have.
If you just like a lovely little ornamental breed that is as tough as nails, well, this the wild bird you should add to your flock. They are beautiful to behold and have a proud posture that just cannot be ignored by passerbys. If you like the attention, get an exotic Jungle Fowl chicken.