A Sumatra cock bird

Text by Shahbazin / J. Floyd

Sumatras (also frequently referred to as Black Sumatras, although other colors--chiefly white and blue--are available, particularly in bantam size) are a highly decorative fowl hailing from the Indonesian island that is its namesake. They are one of the very old breeds, admitted into the American Standard of Perfection in 1883, although having been originally imported in 1847. There is a lot of speculation as to the origin of the Sumatra; some believe that this breed may have originally been another race of jungle fowl, before being interbred with other fowls, and some think it may be the result of a cross with Gallus varius, the Green Junglefowl, or even that it may be from some other pheasant cross. The Sumatra may be an ancestor or relative of the Silkie, and possibly the forebearer of muffed and tasseled OE Games; it has certainly been used a fighting fowl and as a cross for other Game breeds, although it is now exclusively an exhibition bird.

The Sumatra today is a nice layer of white or tinted eggs; if one fancies small, pheasant-type birds, it can even be used as a meat fowl, although the dark pigment might be a detracting point. What is the breed's chief strong point is its beautiful, lustrous black plumage, shining with a really intense beetle green sheen. The head has an intelligent, wild-bird appearance; a small pea comb, tiny or no wattles, a large chocolate brown eye, and facial skin the color of a ripe black plum. The legs are glossy black, and the cocks frequently have a cluster of several spurs on each leg (a breed peculiarity). Both sexes have a long tail carried low, but the male has a particularly impressive heavy sweep of long, brilliant, curving, sharply pointed tail feathers.

Although I don't have any of this breed at the present, I have raised large Black Sumatras in the past, and when I sold my breeding stock I kept a favorite hen who lived to be 13 or 14 years old. Samarskite was her name, and she was trained to fly up on my arm, whereupon I would give her little bits of grain from my pockets. She laid pretty well until she was about 11, when she decided to give up on the production thing, and only produced the occasional egg, as a sort of surprise. After breeding season, I used to let my show cock loose with the hens and babies; he kept young cockerels of various breeds from starting fights or pestering hens, kept order in general, and never bothered the adult OEs on tie cords or in pens. The other birds respected the Sumatras, and Samarskite was always a high ranking hen, but they always seemed very pacifistic and benevolent. Cockerels sometimes needed extra protein supplements when growing in their adult plumage, as this could be a real stress on them if they tried to do it all at once.

Breed clubs:

American Sumatra Association
c/o Richard Schock
3036 Woodruff Road
Boonville, NC 27011

Oriental Game Breeders Association
Eve Bundy
PO Box 100
Creston, CA 93432
phone: 805-237-1010

The Asian Gamefowl Society
Julia Keeling, British Representative
Ballashee, Staarvey Road, German
Isle of Man, IM5 2AJ
British Isles
phone: (+44)-1624-801825
Speciaalclub Aziatische Vechthoenrassen
Willem van Ballekom (Secretaris SAV)
Hobokenlaan 19
5628 VA Eindhoven
phone: 040-2417208

Sumatra Links:

The Asian Gamefowl Society's Sumatra page

Palm Beach County Poultry Fanciers Association's Sumatra page

Avalon Farm's Sumatra page

Rojo's Roost

"Sumatra," Shahbazin's prize-winning Black Sumatra cock
Photo courtesy of Shahbazin

A pair of Blue Sumatras

A Splash Sumatra pullet

A Sumatra hen

Another shot of the Sumatra cock at the top of the page

A different view of two-thirds of a trio of Sumatras!
The top two-thirds!
Photo courtesy of Mckinney & Govero Poultry

A group of Sumatra chicks
Photo courtesy of Lester Stocker

Two shots of a Black Sumatra chick
Photos courtesy of Pam Marshall

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