Yokohama Chickens | Exhibition German Birds from Japan

Yokohama chickens

Yokohama chickens are a German breed of chickens that came from Japan after it was exported in 1864 to France from the port of Yokohama. The first Yokohamas were derived from the Minohiki breed and the moment these birds got to Germany, Hugo du Roi then bred this breed which was also used on his own birds. These birds are bred for exhibitions.

Brief History on the Yokohama Chicken

The Yokohamas started out from Japan’s Minohikis until they were exported to France and Germany. The exports to Europe met with several failures as all the female birds died and only the males remained. Because of this, breeders began outcrossing these birds with others to produce a new breed and reinvigorate the line. The following birds were used to develop the line:

This breeding necessity started out when Mr. Prosche from Dresden, Germany managed to get three birds from Paris in 1869 only for the female to die and tried it again only to have the female die again. In 1902, German author Bruno Duringen grew concerned over the small genetic pool and imported Japanese Yokohamas with the breeds listed above. The Sumatra itself was used to reinvigorate the breed.

The reinvigorated birds made by Duringen are the modern iterations of the breed found today. Additionally, this breed was also used to develop Phoenixes during their early years. Still, the Poultry Club of Great Britain doesn’t make any distinctions between the Phoenix and Yokohamas and classify them as the same bird.

Key Features of Yokohama Birds

Red-Shouldered Yokohama
Red-Shouldered Yokohama by livestockconservancy.org

Modern Yokohamas now have the following physical features:

  • Small and petite build
  • Walnut-shaped comb
  • Small or missing wattles
  • Yellow legs
  • Orange-red eyes
  • White or red shoulders depending on breed variety
  • White feathers
  • Game-like looks

In short, these birds are small show birds that look like gamefowls but aren’t great for cockfighting. These birds are easy going and docile but can get aggressive when alongside other roosters. The hens mature slowly and typically only produce 60-80 small eggs per year and the small size of these birds don’t make them great meat birds.

Because Malays were one of the ancestors of the modern Yokohamas, some breeders might cross these birds with the Malays to try and create a new gamefowl breed. Additionally, Sumatras were also involved with the creation of this breed and even though the Sumatras involved are unlikely to be the original gamecocks from Indonesia, some breeders might experiment with the original Sumatras and/or the French-developed ones meant for cockfighting. Still, breeding new cockfighting strains from this breed might not produce favourable results.

What Yokohama Chickens are Known for

White Yokohama
White Yokohama owned by user Arkklon shown in backyardchickens.com forums

Modern Yokohamas are well-known as long-tailed show birds that aren’t well-suited for cockfighting, meat production, and egg-laying. These birds have docile temperaments and are great as pets, except when handling the tails as they’re quite long.

This breed fares well when allowed to roam so the perfect breeders for this breed will need to have large lands to allow them to roam and forage on their own. Yokohamas are poor egg-layers and the flocks tend to be small and because of this, their worldwide population is quite low. They’re part of the Livestock Conservancy critical list as there are fewer than 1,000 birds of this breed worldwide.

Should Breeders Use Yokohamas for Cockfighting?

No. The best use for Yokohamas is as show birds and any breeder who wants to increase this breed’s numbers to eventually develop them for cockfighting will need to increase their population sizes. It can take time to increase this bird’s numbers due to their low egg-production rate so cockfighting breeders will need to cross them with Malays and Sumatras or introduce new breeds to the line to improve egg-laying and fighting capabilities.

Regardless of the purpose for breeding these birds, breeders must first aim to increase their numbers before doing anything else. As their population is too low, the possibilities of inbreeding and creating undesirables are high so outcrossing first is necessary.

Conclusion

Yokohama chickens are beautiful birds with a rather troubled origin story. Exporting these Japanese bird predecessors to Europe nearly ended in failure as the females died in transit and only survived to its modern iteration through outcrossing.

The population count for this bird is extremely low so there’s little to no chance in seeing this bird in Sabong International’s cockpits or any cockpit worldwide. If you’re a breeder who wants to develop a cockfighting breed from this bird, then your best bet is to use Malays and Sumatras to revitalize the strain.

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