Being a rooster is almost always a death sentence: Vast numbers are ground up alive just hours after hatching in the egg industry, and others are cruelly forced into deadly cockfights. Although cockfighting is illegal in all U.S. states and territories, it still takes place, and it’s legal in Cuba, most of Mexico, and much of the Caribbean. Read on to learn what cockfighting is and how you can help birds who are forced to fight for entertainment.
What Is Cockfighting?
A cockfight is when two roosters fight, often to the death, for the entertainment of onlookers. In Central and Latin America, cockfights are often considered “family events,” so children are subjected to seeing the violence. Many attendees bet on the outcome, and cockfighting rings are often linked to crimes like illegal gambling, prostitution, robbery, murder, and drug trafficking.
In their natural habitats, roosters fight with one another to establish a “pecking order,” claim territory, and assert mating rights. Serious injuries are rare because one bird will flee when he accepts defeat. After a brief tussle, they go back to enjoying life, foraging and dustbathing with their flock.
The natural urge to retreat has been systemically bred out of “game fowl,” so birds used in the fighting ring are more likely to fight to the death. Many are routinely armed with blades and spikes attached to their feet in order to inflict more severe bodily harm on one another. The fight doesn’t end until one rooster is dead or nearly dead, and common injuries include punctured lungs, pierced eyes, and broken bones. The losing bird is often discarded into a barrel or trashcan near the fight pit, even if he’s still alive. The winning rooster’s wounds are typically crudely stitched up with no further treatment.
The Cockfighting Industry
Roosters bred for cockfighting are hatched on “game” farms by breeders known as “cockers.” If a chick doesn’t seem violent enough, he’s killed, and most of the “chosen” birds spend their lives tethered by the leg to a plastic barrel or small cage—their only shelter. Cockers then train the birds to gain strength and endurance by attaching weights and blades to their legs and setting them loose for “practice fights” with each other.
How to Help Roosters Used in Cockfights
Cockfights only take place because they’re profitable for those who organize them. The best way to help roosters forced to fight is never to attend a cockfight, and if you suspect illegal cockfighting is occurring, report it to the local authorities.