LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A planned “meet and greet” by our United States Senators last week transformed into a huge crowd of persons who challenged the recent signing of the Agricultural Act of 2014. Protesters believe the bill is an attack on their rights to own certain types of game fowl.
Monday’s protesters — led by the director of the Kentucky Chapter of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association (UGBA) — cited their rights to own special breeds and brands of fowl, primarily roosters that are trained to fight each other. Proponents claim that fighting between roosters is commonplace in farms and barnyards across America. They claim that it is a natural instinct of survival and that there are little differences in game-fighting chickens than producing the fowl for factory farming.
While it may be that natural instincts for male species is to defend their territory, statements by the protesters do not detail the whole truth of “cock fighting.” The chickens that inhabited our home during my childhood had no less territorial instinct than any other. Even now, the chickens that grace my property are ruled by only one rooster, as it is well known that two roosters will fight for the crowning rights of the barnyard.
Having once (and only once) naively attended a “cock fight” in northern Georgia years ago, the reality and cruelty of the situation forever influenced me. The entire purpose of the event was simply to gamble. The barn where we went had no stalls, no feed barrels, no real “farm” oriented materials. It had large cages where the fighting chickens were kept and the center of the barn was lined with bales of hay to border off “the ring” — similar to the fighting area in professional wrestling or boxing. It was even decked with benches lining the ring. The chickens — wearing small bands on their legs — were held carefully by their owners until the signal for the fight to start was given. The type of bands varied from just an obtruding spur to outright blades which would gut another fowl with just one strike. Advocates of the sport often inject these fowl with hormones or drugs to make them more aggressive and the fight itself was geared so the winner ruled when its opponent died.