by David M. Raley
When a vegeterian or a member of PETA objects to cockfighting I fully understand. All of the latter and a sizable fraction of the former object to exploitation of animals under any circumstance. I don't agree with them but they are intellectually consistant, unless, of course, they wear leather shoes or belts or take photographs or buy violins or do other things that require animal products. The people that I don't understand are the ones who think it's perfectly fine to kill and eat chickens but somehow immoral to let them together for a fight.
Suppose you came into this world a run of the mill cockeral. Let's call you Rom. The only mother is an incubator. You haven't room to turn around without bumping another biddy. Get used to it. Your next home is little better if any. It is doubtful that there will ever be more than a few seconds at a time when part of your body is not in contact with another cockeral of the same age. No sun. No sky. Plenty to eat. Same old, same old every day but plenty. From time to time The Man walks through and throws out the culls. Some of the culls are already dead. Some need a little help. Some aren't growing fast enough and aren't worth the risk of feeding in hopes that they might pick up. A quick wring of the neck and throw him on the pile.
If you aren't culled, at 6 weeks or so you get a fine truck ride. Fresh air and sunshine at last. At the end of this fine ride there is another even finer. You are hooked by your feet, upside down, to a conveyor. This fine ride takes you inside a building and dips your head in a tray of water. The water is the live pole of an electric circuit and the conveyor is the neutral pole. This is to stun you so the next attraction can more reliably cut your throat.
Well, 6 weeks is better than nothing. It's even longer than you would have lived, on average, if you had been hatched in the wild. If not for the demand for fried chicken you would not have lived at all.
Suppose now that you came into the world a gamecock. Chances are you hatched underneath your mother's body. You spend your days following her around in the grass. The Man puts out food for you but there are also bugs and worms and the grass itself to eat. From time to time you will get an inoculation to protect you from diseases that cannot be forestalled by feed supplements.
You don't mature as rapidly as Rom but sometime between the time that you lose interest in following your mother and the time that you want to fight with your brothers over the pullets, you will be given a 55 gallon drum to live in and a lawn of a couple of hundred square feet. From time to time you will go to your fence, or the end of your tether, and tell your neighbor what you intend doing as soon as you get to him. You get the chance at, maybe, nine months, depending on molting season. Nobody is allowed to spar with green plumage. When the time comes you will be fitted with muffs to protect your opponent and a hood to protect your head and allowed to spar.
If you stand and fight there will come a day when you will go to the pit wearing gaffs and face another like yourself also wearing gaffs. By this time you have lived seven to twelve times as long as you would have as Rom. If you have been especially good with the muffs you may have already been allowed a go at the hens. Today you or your opponent will probably die. If it is you, who had the better life you or Rom? If you live, more hens. You live today, what about tomorrow? That's up to you. Keep winning and you may become too valuable to fight. The odds are slim but it sure beats the chance that Rom will whip the conveyor.