Modern Game

Modern Game Modern Game hen credit R Stephenson

Key Characteristics

The Modern Game is easily tamed and shows less aggression than other game breeds so birds make great pets. It is a hardy breed which likes being active.  The females do go broody and make good protective mothers, although their hard, short feathering and long legs do not provide the best brooding combination. The breed is unsuitable as a table bird, it has always been reared purely for shows.


  • The Modern Game was gradually developed by show exhibitors in the decades after cockfighting became illegal in 1849.
  • By about 1870 they were often called ‘Exhibition Game’, a type which can, with hindsight, be regarded as the halfway stage of the transformation of at least some strains of fighting game into Modern Game, a process which was fully achieved by about 1890.
  • There were accusations, usually denied, that Malay crosses were used to achieve their extremely long legs.
  • Large Modern Game were very popular for a short period up to the 1920s, but then declined rapidly, partly because leading breeders in the 1920s would not sell any good quality birds, thus preventing potential new people trying them.
  • However they did just about survive, and although very rare now, 21st century newcomers will find existing breeders much more helpful.
  • Modern Game bantams have remained a popular breed throughout.


  • The Modern Game is a striking bird with very long legs, upstanding carriage and tapered tail. The breed is hard feathered and has a very small comb and wattles.
  • There are 13 standardised colours in both sizes. Colour is very important in Modern Game, 20% of the points in showing are allocated for it.
  • There are 2 core colour groups: the red faced (Black-Red/Partridge, Black- Red/Wheaten, Pile and Duckwing (gold, silver and blue), Blue-Red, White and Crele) and the dark or mulberry faced (Birchen, Brown-Red, Black, Blue, Silver-Blue and Lemon-Blue).



The breed is a poor layer, depending on the strain about 90 small light coloured eggs a year.

Did you know?

The breed is known for their exceptionally long legs. Birds have such long legs that they look like they are on tiptoe. 

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit to see how you can help.

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