United Poultry Concerns June, 20 2005

Combat unnatural for roosters

This Commentary by UPC President Karen Davis appears in today’s edition (June 20, 2005) of the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Kentucky.


Combat unnatural for roosters

By Karen Davis

In the Herald-Leader’s article, ["Gamefowl breeders defend cockfighting," June 8, 2005), reporter Peter Mathews cites cockfighter Pam Elkins’ claim that "roosters are jungle fowl. Fighting is what they do."

Fighting and other harmful pecking among chickens is never seen in the wild.

Wild roosters (and sometimes hens) conduct ritual showdowns that, as with wolves and many other animals, substitute for and deflect from actual physical combat. As a chicken keeper, I’ve watched these ephemeral displays hundreds of times over the past two decades.

Anyone wanting a detailed account of rooster behavior in the wild should read the1969 study by McBride, Parer, and Foenander, "The Social Organization and Behaviour of the Feral Domestic Fowl." Charting for seven months the daily activities of chickens that had lived free for forty years (since 1928), the scientists reported: "No serious fights were observed during any of these intrusions [by young male roosters during the breeding season], though the males made several rushes at each other."

Regarding a fight among penned roosters, they wrote: "A fight of this type was never seen in the wild. Its fatal end was probably due to the restriction of movements in the pen, as well as to the inability of a defeated bird to escape by flying into a tree."

Chickens in Your Backyard by Rick & Gail Luttmann has a chapter on "Roosters" that says: "Most fighting is not very serious. Fights seldom last long and rarely injure the combatants."

If cockfighters will try to defend their activity, they should at least get their facts straight.


Karen Davis of Machipongo, Va., is president of United Poultry Concerns

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

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