Claret Gamefowl: Popular Sabong Breed from Accidental Crossing

The Claret gamefowl is a gamefowl strain created by accident after two birds that weren’t meant to be paired with each other were crossbred. This breed was created by John H. Madigin who was known for creating new strains and bloodlines of chickens and gamefowls. We say created since the two birds were his and the unexpected offspring was also his and was developed by him.

Claret gamefowl

Today, the accidental strain is sought-after by many different breeders thanks to their beauty for shows and gamefowl traits like strength, speed, and endurance.

Brief History on the Claret Gamefowls

The history of the this breed started out from the accidental crossing of two different birds, a Duyrea Whitehackle hen and a cock with a mix of McCarthy, Mahoney, and other strains of chickens from Buffalo, New York. The offspring were nine stags which a striking red color that looked close to the shade of the claret wine. The Claret name came from these first stags.

Claret from Pinnon Hatch Farms
Claret Gamefowl from Pinnon Hatch Farms

The resulting stags were further developed by Madigin through continuous breeding efforts and selective crossing. Madigin first started crossing using Phil Marsh’s White-legs resulting in birds with red feathers and white legs with a few birds becoming pure white chickens with Claret traits.

Key Features of Claret Gamefowls

The most common pure Clarets have the following physical features:

  • Compact build
  • Broad back
  • Big head
  • Black breasted and wine red
  • Wings with white streaks
  • Tails with white streaks
  • Pearl legged
  • Black spurred

Most breeders of the old guard mainly keep the line pure through inbreeding, linebreeding, and crossing with other pure Claret strains. They do this as they believe that keeping a strain pure will let them know where the line is still good for both the cockpits and for crossing to make new gamefowl lines or breeds.

What Claret Gamefowls are Known for

Clarets are known cockfighters thanks to their speed, strength, and endurance as well as being good birds for crossing. These birds have been present in different cockpits for 60 odd years now and will remain as long as breeders produce good fighters from this breed and offshoots. These birds are so well-known in fact that other breeders are attempting to create the original birds and are producing mixed results with the correct coloration without the fighting capabilities of the this breed.

Claret gamefowl by Sabong Depot
Claret Gamefowl from Sabong Depot

The Claret gamefowls are popular for being keen cutting fighters that are great in the air and the ground. This bird is known for only making a single powerful kick that works well with their speed and aggressiveness. Their cutting skill and power make their strikes as powerful as single stroke birds while also being smart fighters. One downside of this breed, however, is that smarter birds can bait them and they’ll bite only to be counterattacked.

Should Breeders Use Clarets for Cockfighting?

Yes. Breeders should consider getting this breed for their own lines and strains. They can even try improving the bird by infusing smart breeds into their lines to try and eliminate the downside of the Claret gamefowl. The breed itself already has beautiful physical features worthy as show birds so crossing them with smart birds instead of Malays should be a good plan.

It’s important to keep in mind though that not every bird advertised as Clarets are actually those birds especially since some breeders are trying to recreate the original Madigins through their own means. While they get the physical traits right, they have trouble getting the birds to fight like the actual breed they’re trying to imitate.


Clarets are popular worldwide as good fighters that also have great show bird traits. Even though the breed itself was created accidentally through unintentional crossing, Madigin and the other breeders who handled the resulting offspring managed to develop them properly to the point that they’re still fighting after 60 years since they’re created and pitted in the pits.

Keep an eye out for these beautiful red gamefowls with white streaks but be careful that you’re not betting on an imitation that can’t fight as well as the original. You might see these birds in Sabong International’s cockpits so keep an eye out for their aggression to ensure that you’ll bet on the actual breed instead of fake birds that look similar to them.

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