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Nursing Cocks

Posted by gamecocksunlimited on June 8, 2013

Taken from the Grit and Steel, April 2003

Nursing Cocks
By: A.C. Dingwall, 1848 Clinton   St., Toledo, OH
Sept.26, 1927

To: Mr. Thomas S. Lee, Cape Breton, N.S.

 

Dear Mr. Lee,
I received your letter of September 20 and I was indeed glad to hear from you and perhaps exchange a few ideas. In my article regarding handling in Grit and Steel I did not intend to convey the impression that I am an authority on the subject, but, on the other hand, I wanted to draw out in publication from other cockers their ideas and experiences, for the benefit of all of us. It is true I breed and fight my own cocks and handle many more for my friends in mains and hacks. I am always particularly interested in the handling and nursing of cocks in the pit, and to further confirm my opinions of wounded birds I have cut up many to see whether I was correct or not. From the requests I get from friends to handle causes me to believe that I enjoy their confidence. I still intend to write some more articles for Grit and Steel as soon as I get another writing spell, but I will answer your letter.

Your first question about working a cock up to bear right back in for the next pitting:

Now, Mr. Lee much depends on the first pitting. If the pitting is one of those fast, snappy pittings, and if your cock is seemingly not overexerted and doing good work then I want him to go into the next pitting with as much ambition as the first. To do this I keep him facing the bird with the other handler as much as possible, blow with your mouth to the top of his head and gently massage his hips and legs. Do all this without wearing on the cock or tiring him, and at the same time keep him alert. I saw an excellent example of the effects of blowing on the cock’s head here in Cleveland by Labombard, who handled for Brooker of Windsor, Canada, against Bill Ryan of Cleveland. Brooker’s cock was badly cut in the head and neck and almost entirely blind. Labombard constantly blew on the cocks head and he would repeatedly come back and do some deadly cutting. This spring I employed these same methods with a cock that first lost leg, then a wing, and also an eye. We were fighting with a half-hour limit to each battle on the account of the number of fights we had that day. My bird was crippled, as described, before the first 15 minutes were up. I took the short end of some bets that my cock would still be fighting at the end of the half-hour. It was a job for the shape my bird was in, but I continued to blowing on his head and my bird was still pecking at the finish.

As to a throat cut (a genuine puncture of the jugular vein), I have never been able to do any good except to keep my cocks going for a few more pittings and perhaps get a lick over; but whenever I see the throat swell up large and his head hang down when pitted I start to pay off. For a minor cut in the throat (not the jugular) I simply hold the cock quietly with the neck slightly extended upwards. A minor cut will clog OK, but that is not very serious.

As to a lung rattle, I agree heartily with Sol P. McCall in his conditioning pamphlet where he says the best thing to do in the case of a lung rattle is to hold the cock perfectly still, and if not to serious the cock will rid of it himself, without annoyance from the handler.

Your opinion in regard to couples does not agree with mine. In nearly all cases of wry-neck where the cock goes down and twists his head around or back toward his tail I have found to be from a cut in the spinal cord in the cock’s neck. If this injury is not to serious you can get your cock out of it by blowing on his head and gently massaging downward on his neck. I believe this creates more circulation, and I know several cocks have come out of it for me this way. Much, too, depends on the aggressiveness of the other cock in the following pittings. With any couple I always look for any opportunity to demand a handle, so as to further help my bird. I would rather sacrifice a count or two if I think I can do my bird some good. Many novices are too anxious for the count at the wrong time. I was fighting one of my Doms the past season against Joe Frish of Wyandotte, Mich. My bird was cut up and down. Joe got the count, and each succeeding pitting he started the count as soon as he pitted. I was thankful. I blew plenty on my Dom’s head and massaged his back, as I saw he was hit there. Before the fourth count of 10 the color began to come back in my bird’s head and I pitted him square on his feet; whereas, before, I sat him on his breast.

When Joe’s bird came with in two feet of my cock he made one shot and hooked his bird deep in the neck, causing wry-neck and complete paralysis and I counted him out. I lost a fine Irish Grey stag, My own raising, by a similar neck blow the past season. I made very careful examination after scalding and cutting, and know positively what blow did the work. I call a wry-neck the next thing to a broken neck, where the bird is killed instantly. The only other couple I consider is that caused to a blow in the back. When a bird is hit so hard that he can’t move either leg when they are out behind him. I take him out of the pit. If he can move either leg some there is a chance. I place my left hand on the breast with fingers on the pelvic bone, holding both feet firmly with the right hand. I then press the cock’s back hard against my lower chest and at the same time force up the cock’s lower back by the fingers on the pelvic bone. With my right hand and pull the cock’s legs down, forward and up. I do all of this quite strongly and have very good results winning some nice fights when the odds were against me.

Brain blows. Now, Mr. Lee, sometimes when I see birds cut through the head with gaffs and they continue to fight unaffected, I think they haven’t any brains. That’s one extreme, and on the other you see one blow in the head and it’s pay day. In dressing drypicked chickens for the market the jugular vein is first severed inside the throat and next a particular part of the chicken’s brain is punctured with a sharp knife to cause complete paralysis and relaxation of the muscles and the feathers are easily pulled. This is an expert operation. If death is instantly caused by sticking the brain in the wrong place it is a tough job picking and the skin is easily torn, making the bird less marketable.

Now between the two extremes mentioned we find the most common of our so-called “Brain blows.” The cock is only temporarily “goofed,” much as a man hit on the head. Time will cause recovery in the majority of these cases. Maintain blood circulation by blowing and gently massaging the head and neck. Just how soon the recovery depends largely just what part of the brain was hit and how deep.

The bird that you mentioned you fought that would face the other bird and still go away from him out of control, I feel quite confident was caused from a neck blow. If you will watch for this again and scaldpick the next and examine I think you will confirm this. The nerve center is at the brain and spreads out to all other extremities. If the nerve inside the neck bone is injured all the rest of the chicken’s body is out of control. Likewise if the nerve in the back-one where the two portions of the back come together is injured then you have leg paralysis or “back couples” as we call them.

You have most likely noticed, Mr. Lee, That when one of your cock’s get “blinked” in one eye he frequently can’t see in the either for a while. I believe that the shock temporarily affects the nerve in the other, and it is my opinion that by increasing blood circulation by gentle blowing on the head and gentle massaging that the eyesight is restored in a shorter length of time. I would say that I have had beneficial results by doing this.

Now, you will note throughout this letter I have omitted to saying anything about the use of the sponge and water cup. A few drops on my fingers to the cock’s mouth is about the most I use. I have seen to frequently dumb handlers take a wet cold sponge and apply it to an overheated cock’s head on a hot dry day and the cock would go into a wry-neck, wilt or die almost instantly. To cool an overheated cock I apply a damp sponge to his vent, not his head. I was handling a cock on the Forth of July two years ago at Fostoria, Ohio, for a fellow named Priede. It was terribly hot and it was a hard fight. Priede’s cock was panting and showed all symptoms of overheated when handled. Priede insisted on putting cold water on his head. I asked him if he wanted to kill his cock and he insisted it would cool him off. I put cold water on his head and he flopped a couple of time in my hands and Priede paid his bets.

Best regards and wishing you success, I remain,

Yours truly, A.C. Dingwall

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