Other name(s): Pelung Long Crower
Scientific name: Gallus gallus domesticus
Country / Place of origin: Indonesia
History: The Ayam Pelung, or Pelung Chicken arose from back-crosses of Ayam Bekisar (itself a cross of Gallus varius x Gallus gallus) with domesticated gamefowl. The roosters in each generation were selected for their crowing abilities and the Ayam Pelung is now a very large chicken breed known for its most melodious song. Indeed, locally, they are known as the 'singing chickens'. In many regions of Indonesia the Ayam Pelung has replaced the traditional Ayam Bekisar as the crowing bird of choice both for homes and for use on fishing canoes (and not boats). Originally these birds were used as a kind of early 'foghorn', for the males would crow to one another and would allow the fishing boats that used them to keep in touch even in heavy swells. Unlike the Ayam Pelung, which is a mostly sterile cross, the Ayam Pelung represents a stable breed then reproduces truly. These are very large birds, with the males standing up to 50cm tall. According to local legend, the first Ayam Pelung chick was discovered in 1850 in the province of Cianjur, Java by a local chicken hobbyist, H. Djarkasih. He raised the chick and it matured quickly. When full grown it issued forth a long and melodious crow. This bird was named Ayam Pelung (Crowing Chicken) and the breed was born. Today there is an annual crowing contest in Cianjur and people bring their birds from all over Indonesia to take part. Prizewinning birds sell for hundreds of dollars.
Current Uses: Meat, Calling Birds
Appearance: Ayam Pelung have the body conformation of a gamefowl, but are much larger. There are three main feather types. Either all red, but with black sickled tails, red necks and shoulders with black wings, bellies, rumps and tails or cuckoo with black wings and bellies. The heads are large (compared with other junglefowl-type birds) with pale beaks. Combs are large and distinctly toothed and vary from bright red in colour to pink. The wattles are long and the same colour as the comb. The necks are long and conical and the backs slope down to the bushy tails. Wings are fairly short and the legs are long and the lower leg is pale in colour and unfeathered. Thighs are narrow and long.
Average weight: 7 - 13 lbs.
Lifespan: 8 - 10 years
Diet: Ayam Pelung are active foragers, with the instincts of the green junglefowl. They can be left to forage for the entirety of their food, but the crowing males are typically too valuable and are kept in ages and are fed grain supplemented with grubs and insects. They also do well on commercial feed, particularly if rapid weight gain is required. Fresh, clean, water should always be provided.
Housing: The best crowers amongst the roosters are highly prized. They are traditionally kept in cages, about 1 1/2 times the length and height of the birds. It is these selfsame cages that are attached to the canoes where the birds are used as crowing roosters. Ayam Bekisar are roosting birds and will naturally roost in trees. If keeping them, they need to be supplied with plenty of above-ground roosting perches. The base population, however, are left to naturally forage for all their food and water. They are too heavy to fly into trees to perch, but do appreciate above ground perches, particularly if they can scramble onto them.
Health issues: Ayam Pelung are healthy birds and have sufficiently little green junglefowl heritage that they are no longer susceptible to the common ailments of domestic chickens (as their immediate ancestor, the Ayam Bekisar is). They can be safely housed with domestic fowl.
Behavior / Temperament / Activity level: Like many chickens with gamefowl ancestry, the Ayam Pelung is typically a calm slow-moving bird that can be kept as pets and get very used to being handled. However, they will not tolerate any other male in their territory and those bred for fighting will fight to the death rather than flying away. But they are also known for being very loyal and even affectionate to their owners. Through their wild ancestry comes out in their wariness of strangers. The roosters are known, renowned and even prized for their loud and prolonged crowing.Written by Dyfed Lloyd Evans