BREED NAME: Saipan Jungle Fowl
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The Saipan Jungle Fowl is a domestic chicken from the largest of the 15 island Marianas Archipelago, Saipan, the largest of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
In the Pacific Ocean, about 1200 nautical miles from Japan, 1600 from Shanghai, and the US mainland over 5000 miles away, the influence of the island comes mainly from the native people of Marianas - the Chommaro, seafaring races, and travelers and immigrants from nearby Asian countries.
The Saipan is a large, long-lived, slow maturing breed with roosters 2 – 3 feet tall. He is gamey with close feathering and little down. His saddle, sickle and tail feathers are short, his legs and neck are long.
He is heavy boned with a short but stout horn beak and good sized head. A red face and brow, flat or pea comb, and a dewlap with little to no wattles or lobes give him a gamey look. He mostly resembles the Asil, Malay, Shamo, and other Asian developed game fowl.
Saipan Jungle Fowl, The Facts:
Class: Large heavy
Size: Standard Male: 9-13Ibs. / Standard Female: 8-9 Ibs.
Comb, Wattles & Earlobes: Red - minimal to no wattles or lobes, flat dewlap, flat or pea comb and brows.
Color: Yellow shanks, Golden eyes, Black Breasted Red is the most common color often with some white. Hens are wheaten.
Place of Origin: uncertain, possibly brought in by Austronesian (islands of the South Pacific) seafarers, though seems to have developed on the Island of Saipan.
Conservation Status: Rare, but available from some US hatcheries
Special Qualities: Reaching heights of 3 feet and weighing up to 13 lbs, the Saipan rooster is impressive. He may take 2 – 3 years to fully develop in muscle and full height.
Hens can weigh 8 – 9 lbs. Feathering is minimalistic and tight with whispy neck feathers that seem to reach to cover his long neck. Their development in a tropical climate, coupled with limited feathering and down, makes them a poor choice for regions with cold winters.
They are a calm and assertive breed, often tame. Due to their hefty size and alert nature they do well in environments where predation can harm lesser breeds.
Though friendly with their keepers, both males and females can be aggressive towards humans and animals they aren’t familiar with.
The Saipan has been bred and used for cock fighting. It’s also been crossed with other game breeds to improve size and “naked-heel” fighting abilities. Saipan hens lay few eggs, but are easy brooders and good mothers.
It’s been noted that sister hens, raised by the same mother, often brood and raise chicks together. Though not known for egg numbers the breed is considered prolific. Hens lay a cream colored egg.
Though it carries the name, Saipan is not a true jungle fowl. Its full history may never be known as the island has gone through many hands from a long established native culture, to Spanish rule, Japanese, and now American (democracy) in most recent history.
The island’s native history dates back to 2000 BC and seems to have always welcomed visitors and immigrants, recently about 60% of the population.
The Saipan Jungle Fowl, like Green Junglefowl, that live in coastal environments, have strong instincts to search the shorelines for washed up sea life as their primary source of food.
This specialized diet, that has fortified this large breed, is high on animal proteins and fats and low on grains. They will not do well on standard domestic poultry diets, but thrive with ready access to fruits and vegetables for adequate fiber, proteins and supplemental fats. Crab meal and fish based cat foods have been used to provide enough protein in some successful breeding programs.
Possible theories of origin include chickens brought by original inhabitants and seafaring visitors over the past 4000 years. Feral jungle fowl of normal proportions were introduced to many islands.
Studies indicate that the Comoros Island Giant Junglefowl was likely crossed with domesticated descendents of Red Junglefowl producing: Asil, Koeyoshi, Malay, Shamo and Saipan. It’s very possible, but undocumented, that chickens were brought by the Japanese during their colonial occupation of Saipan.
US servicemen returned to mainland US with Siapan chickens after WWII, one being B.W. Saylor, who later wrote an article describing his observations in: The Saipan Jungle Fowl in 1977. Both wild and domesticated chickens were found on the island with uncertain origins.
Mr. Saylor reportedly brought 5 chicks home from the war with him and worked with the breed for approximately 30 years.
Though considered an exhibition breed by some the Saipan Jungle Fowl has never been admitted into the APA, and are unable to win.