The Aseel chicken is an ancient, almost exotic, breed that was developed in India and Pakistan seemingly for the sole purpose of cockfighting. Can they be a good choice for backyard flocks? Let’s explore this rare breed and discover the answer for ourselves.
The Aseel breed is an old and rare breed of chicken that is known for its hardiness, vigor, and a strong constitution. Their status is listed as Threatened by The Livestock Conservancy.
History of the Aseel Chicken Breed
|Recognized Varieties||Black Breasted Red (Wheaton), Dark, Spangled, and White|
Aseel, which may also be spelled Asil and Azeel, translates in Arabic to “pure” or “thoroughbred”. In Hindi, it means “high-born, high caste, pure”.
In ancient India, any chicken that was discovered to be energetic or “gamey” was referred to as an Aseel. The high regard in which the breed is held is evidenced by their name being used as a description.
The Aseel breed has been around for thousands of years in India. “…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,” says the great poultry author Lewis Wright.
The first Aseels to be imported into the United States came from Lucknow, India, and were brought over by Dr. H.P. Clarke of Indianapolis, IN. They were first shown at the 1887 Indiana State Fair by Dr. Clarke.
In 1931, Dr. D.S Newill from Pennsylvania acquired Aseel birds from India. The breed was in England by 1846 and may have arrived earlier.
Aseels are a slow-growing breed, and their offspring have proven to be quite meaty. Aseels were utilized to produce the Cornish chicken breed and are said to be the source of the genes that give today’s commercial broilers their meaty proportions.
In 1981, the APA (American Poultry Association) recognized the Aseel breed. It was admitted as a standard breed recognized in Black Breasted Red (Wheaten), Dark, Spangled, and White.
|Egg Laying||Poor to Decent|
|Egg Color||Off White to Light Brown|
Like most breeds, the Aseel breed begins laying around 5 – 6 months of age.
They are considered poor to decent in egg production. The hens typically lay between 150 and 200 off-white to light brown small eggs per year. The eggs are said to have a stronger flavor than other chicken eggs.
Although they are poor layers, they are prone to broodiness and make excellent mothers. They’ve been seen fighting off snakes to protect their chicks.
|Number of Toes||4|
The Aseel chicken breed is a hardy, disease-resistant bird that is well-suited for hot climates.
Males and females have short, hard feathers that are held tightly to their bodies. They have a meaty carcass and grow slowly.
The males have a short, chopped-off crow that is very distinct. The breed is supposedly intelligent and distinguished by physical features including yellow feet, a hawk-like beak, and a round skull with eyes neatly centered sporting a pea comb.
The Aseel is known for having a large heart for its size and short intestines in comparison to other chicken breeds. The enlarged heart may account for their extreme endurance and stamina.
Their medium-sized, compact bodies are extremely muscular with an upright posture that seems to be inviting a fight.
They have short, strong, and very curved beaks which suits the broad skull, piercing eyes, and fearless spirit they possess.
|Cold Hardiness||Hardy in Winter|
|Heat Tolerance||Tolerates Heat Excellent|
|Bears Confinement||Not well|
|Personality||Aggressive with other birds/Personable with their handlers|
Even the hens will frequently engage in fights with one another for lengthy periods of time. Day-old chicks have been observed sparring with one another and even with chicks of other breeds hatched or kept with them.
Males and females look alike, making it difficult to sex them until they are about 3 months old.
Aseels are highly social and personable to people, even though they are aggressive to other chickens. It’s the aggressive way these birds carry themselves and the amazing endurance that has earned them a reputation all around the world.
Aseel chickens are typically black with red or black and white spangled in color.
They are excellent foragers and very active birds, which makes them well-suited for free-range operations.
Although they aren’t good egg layers, they do become broody and make formidable mothers. Aseel hens have been known to fight off snakes to protect their eggs or young.
Aseels are considered one of the most heat-tolerant breeds. They are also resistant to many of the common poultry diseases most backyard flocks face.
Where to Buy Aseel Chickens
There are only a few hatcheries that sell the Aseel. Be sure you choose a reputable hatchery as always when ordering any chicken breed, but especially when ordering a rare breed.
The Aseel chicken breed is said to be an ancient breed originating in India. They are known for their hardiness and vigor and are considered a good choice for both backyard flocks and commercial operations.
Aseel chickens are not good egg layers. They only lay around 150-200 eggs per year. However, they make great meat birds. In fact, they are considered to be one of the tastiest chicken breeds around.
If you’re looking for an interesting and unique chicken breed to add to your flock, the Aseel might be a good choice for you. They are hardy, easy to care for, excellent foragers, and lay a decent amount of eggs.
They’re known as broody hens and excellent mothers.
Because of their aggressive tendencies towards other birds, they may be best suited kept alone or as a single breed. They are personable and don’t tend to be aggressive towards people.
If you’re looking for a hardy, active chicken that can handle hot weather, the Aseel breed may be a good choice.
Learn about other chicken breeds to help you choose the best breed for your homestead or backyard flock.
As always, we’re here to help.