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Historical Keeps


Conditioning the gamecock for battle by Narragansett

1st section


The matter of the ingredients contained in the keep feed has long been considered the great secret in preparing cocks for battle. I disagree.

My own experience indicates that the basic feed which a cock recieves in the three or four weeks prior to battle should vary but little from the feed to which he has been accustomed throughout his lifetime. Any wide deoarture from his normal diet cannot materially increase his strength, and in all probability will upset his digestive apparatus to the point where he will have les strength than he possessed prior to the introduction of the new feeds.

Consider this practical example: the Olympic games bring together the finest conditioned atheletes in the world. The Americans have their diet, the Russians have theirs, the Africans have theirs, the Japanese have still another. Yet they all win. However, everyone will agree that if in the last few weeks before the competition any of them had changed his diet to the one used by the champion from another continent, all he would have got out of it would have been a stomach ache and defeat. The same applies to keep feeds for roosters. Stick to the diet to which they are accustomed.

My basic feed consists of:

40% soaked race horse oats. Soaked in wooden barrles or plastic Ash cans out in the sun for three or four days so they begin to sour. 20% whole corn 10% dry race horse oats 7 1/2 % wheat 7 1/2 % Milo 5% sunflower seed 10% laying pellets

I mix up the dry feed and store in a barrel, then mix in the soaked oats just before feeding. This mixture is put together by using a good sized pan for measuring and dumping the grain in a big pail where it is mixed, then dump the pailful into a 55 gallon oil drum where it is mixed some more. The chickens get this feed from 12 weeks on as long as they live. That way they become accustomed to eating whoile corn which is the best way to feed this grain. In cold weather the proportion of whole corn is increased up to 40% of the total and the soaked oats reduced. In the keep feed I cut way down on the soaked oats but don,t eliminate them entirely. It is interesting to observe the reaction of the fowl to this grain mixture. In hot weather the whole corn is the last thing they eat, whereas in cold weather they gobble up every kernel of whole corn before they touch any of the other grains. I am a great respecter of nature, and endeavor to go along with it just as far as I possibly can in everything pertaining to the feeding and care of the fowl. You will notice that this basic feed which I use is heavy in sour and whole oats. This makes for prolonged slow growth and late maturity. Both features are desirable in growing young stock. Flesh and fat can be acquired in a relatively short period of time, but strong bone development and strong ligaments and sinews require time. You cannot hurry them. The longer you can keep young stock growing, the tougher and stronger their bone and sinew structure will be at maturity. It is far better to have stags strong and husky in April than it is to have them fully matured in September. “Fresh green grass is No.1 feed in the world for chickens, especially from 8 weeks old until cooped, and all during the precondition and the Keep. The soaked sour oats described previously are next best. The more sour the better. Be sure to feed them from 12 weeks old, and forever after.” There are certain things in the conditioning feed line which you can do to advantage: (1) If your usual feed is of poor quality, mix up the same ingredients from good quality grains.

(2) Blow out the dust and chaf by winnowing it in the open air.

There’s nothing beneficial about dirt and husks. But don’t put in alot of new grains.

(3) There are certain things which increase the appetite and aid the digestion. Anything which does this in a noraml natural way is good. But don’t go to extremes. Strychnine will develop a voracious appetite, but it also stimulates other activities to the point where it does more harm than good. I’ve tried it but abandoned the practice. Certain so-called conditioning powders are designed to increase the appetite and are okay. For years I”ve used what the boys call my “Black Magic” for such purposes. It’s easy to put together and cheap. The recipe appears at the end of this section.

(4) There are certain other additives that help, but use all of them sparingly.

(a) a Little wheat germ oil mixed in the grain stimulates the sex impulses which is good. Use once a day for the last week or ten days ( Do the same with cod liver oil at the other daily feeding. Just a little. When using these ingredients feed in cups, not on the ground where the moist grain picks up dirt and filth.

(c) Raw eggs are good. They’re a natural food. Mix up one in your grain to every four or five cocks once a day or even twice a day. The last three days use the white only of a hard boiled egg to every three cocks. Add it to your grain feed. (d) Some people add a little concentrated Beef Extract as put out by Wilson and Company a few times during the keep. This is okay but I never saw that it did much good.

(e) A noon feed of chopped apple, chopped onion, chopped lettuce is good. Not much. Just a little. Occasionally add a little chopped up cooked lean beef. Feed all of this in a cup. Not too much. If they don’t eat it all in ten minutes, take it away and throw it out.

(f) Many good feeders use buttermilk on all their feeds. You might try it. If they like it, it means their systems require this ingredient, if they don’t forget it and give them their regular feed.

(g) A little calf-manna mixed in your grain feed is good. About a teaspoon full to the cock once a day. You can get it at any grain or feed store. I consider it okay. Mix in a little layer pellets if the fowl like them.

(h) The last three days, keep cocks in cock house and feed mostly corn and hard boiled white of eggs. But just add more corn to your regular grain feed, don’t feed corn exclusively. And by all means during this time feed less rather than more. Not more than two-thirds of what you have been feeding. You want your cocks hungry when they enter the pit. There are countless drugs, steroids and other stuff which feeders try to increase the strength or desire or speedor something. I’ve tried all the ones I ever heard of but abandoned them all. Many people feel they are not really “conditioning” a bird unless they feed something extra. If you are one of them, here are a few thins you can do which probably will do no harm:

Add some bean sprouts chopped up fresh from the chinese restaurant to the noon vegetable feeding. Some cocks will not eat them, but if they do it is good for them.

Add a little brown sugar, or still better, some honey to their feed the last week. Both are strengthening and produce energy.

Some people feel they must add bone meal and fish meal to their feed the first ten days. This is okay, if fresh but if sour or rancid they could throw the cocks off their feed. Others think the cocks should drink toast water or barley water instead of plain fresh water. I don’t have time to bother with any of these things, but if you wish to do so , go ahead. I doubt if they do much good, but they will do no harm. Sometimes I add some concentrated gelatin, sugar and milk prepared in a double boiler and then cooled in a pan until it solidifies. Cut up little cubes about 3/4 inches and add to feed. This puts on weight like everything. Adds energy. Use only the last four or five days, especially in cold weather. Some people swear by it. ” The formula–2 ounces knox gelatin, four ounces sugar, 2 cups milk.” Of far greater importance than what you feed is how much you feed. As one old master said, “The feed cup is the key to the keep.” Cocks must be kept hungry, active, alert, and scratching throughout the keep. At every feed they should be “hitting the bottom of the cup” and making it rattle on their cock stalls. If they don’t clean up every grain in five minutes and start looking for more, your feeding too much. If any individual cock leaves anything in his cup by the end of this time, take away his cup and feed less the next meal.

To feed accurately you need a feed cup which has a flat top so that you know exactly how much you are feeding. A whiskey higger is okay or one those little plastic measures which come in coffee cans. The important thing is for you to know exactly how much you are feeding. Every one-fourth ounce makes a difference. Measuring by a spoon or a handful is no good. Not accurate enough. Find out exactly how much your measure holds by weighing its contents of your dry grain mix on the scales and then feed a little or a little less than a cupful. Usually about 1 1/8th or 1 1/4th ounces is a normal feed twice a day. But the important thing is for you to know how much you are feeding and not be guessing at it. After that, note how each individual cock reponds to his feed, as indicated by his appetite and his weight, and measure his feed accordingly. But ever and always have him “hitting the bottom of the cup” and looking for more. It is far better to feed too little than too much. You wont increase his strength by feeding morethan he can digest quickly. You’ll only make him sluggish and upset.

Keeping in mind that the purpose of any keep is to have a cock (1) fresh (2) alert (3) active (4) confident and (5) happy. If anything in this keep or any other one interferes with those objectives, abandon the practices or the feed which you think is causing the trouble and do something else. No set schedule or formula will cover all conditions of weather, state of health and flesh, temperament of cocks, etc. You must appraise all these things as you go along by observing the cocks and noting their responses to what you are feeding or what you are doing to them. I’m a great believer in changing the cock’s location frequently during the keep. Coops on green grass one day, fly-pen another, regular small pen with dirt or sand bottom the next, etc. Such changes keep them fresh and eager. Whenever the weather is favorable, I like to keep them outdoors during the daytime.

I’m not afraid of getting them “loose” on fresh grass provided they have been on grass prior to entering the keep. It keeps them fresh. You wouldn’t like to be shut up in a close, hot stall and neither do they. It’s the same on cold or windy or rainy days. Put them were they’ll be most comfortable. Don’t be a slave to a schedule. Keep water in front of them all the time until the last 24 or 48 hours before fight time, then give them less depending upon the weather. I do like to keep them quiet and resting the last three days or 72 hours prior to their fight, but use judgement on this too and by all means have them comfortable and happy.

What you feed, how much you feed , when and how you exercise the cocks will vary somewhat with every bunch you put up. Just keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish, as stated previously, by observing the reaction of the fowl to what you are feeding and doing, and don’t be a robot to this or any other system.

During the entire keep, notice the droppings every day. They should be firm but soft. Not hard and dried up, but not watery either. If they are either, try to determine the cause and correct it. They are a sure sign of a cock’s condition and his ability to assimilate his food. He will not prosper if his droppings are not right. Sometimes it is the feed that is the trouble. Other times it is caused by nervousness or environment.

Whatever the cause, try to eliminate it. No matter what feed or other procedure you are following, your fowl will be going down hill instead of improving if his droppings are off. One good conditioner i knew was called a “bowel man.” He placed more stress on a fowl’s droppings then upon any other indication of a bird’s health. So pay attention to them. They are important. Toward the end of the keep the droppings should firm up somewhat due to the character of the feed and less water. Regulate both to bachieve the result. You will have to work that out for yourself. No formula can anticipate all the conditions which you will encounter during the keep. The use of scales during the keep is important. Weigh each morning before the cock has been fed and when he has been without water all night. By weighing at that time you get a more accurate and uniform weighing.

Record such weight day by day on a chart right to the quarter ounce so you can determine whether a cock is gaining or losing weight which is a excellent indication of his health, and whether or not he is prospering on the quality and quantity of feed he is recieving. A cock should be at about his proper fighting weight when he enters the keep following a week or two of the preconditioning process. During the two week “keep” period I like to drop him off an ounce or two through the quality and quantity of feed during the early part of the keep, and then bring him up toward the end of the keep so that he weighs as much as when he entered the keepor an ounce or two more. Make such increases and decreases in weight gradually. Don’t go to excessesin achieving such results. I he does not change, don’t fret about it. Such uniformity in weight indicates that a cock is jus about right in weight, and you should not attempt to change it. By all means concentrate on having a cock “coming up” in weight, health, spirit, , and freshness as the day of battle approaches. Note especially Spirit and Freshness. If the cock does not have those qualities the minute he enters the pit, and has become stale or “gone by” as some men express it, he is an almost certain loser no matter how much you have done for him during the preceding four weeks. Many good cockers make their selections on the day of the fight based largely on a cock’s freshness and eagerness on fight day regardless of how he has shown in his previous sparring sessions.

I am a great believer in freshness and in having lots of moisture in a cocks tissues when fought. One excellent cocker I know who has a splendid record for setting down cutting cocks attributes much of his success to having cocks with a lot of moisture in their muscles. He actually forces in the moisture by feeding aloof oatmeal soaked in buttermilk, and alot od stale bread soaked in water. Personally, I think he overdoes this feature of feeding, but you can’t argue with success. My own fowl have a splendid reputation for cutting, and I always have plenty of moisture in their systems. Certain it is that a cock will hit short and not “reach out” with his blows.

The matter of a cock’s proper fighting weight is a topic of dispute among even the best conditioners. Some men like for a cock to carry two, four, or even six ounces more flesh than other equally good conditioners. Both win and apparently show equally strong and durable fowl. Some families, and especially round headed fowl, seem to require more meat on them than others. You don’t want any gut fat in them . That’s sure. But other than that you’ll have to come to your own decision as to your fowl’s proper fighting weight basd upon your experience and observations. In any event, approach this problem with an open mind and don’t be a slave to the scales or preconceived ideas. Base your judgement on what you observe with your own fowl. Timing

Probably the most inportant feature of the feeding, as well as all other procedures in the conditioning program, is that of timing, or of having the fowl at their peak at the hour of battle. It is no good to have them “ready” or at their peak, two days or even two hours prior to battle. They must “peak” at the hour they enter the pit. Many features contribute to this condition, but from a feeding standpoint the important part is to have them “comin up” just prior to battle, and fresh. To accomplish this you must feed less (mostly cracked corn), excercise less, and rest more– complete rest the last 72 hours prior to battle. Not over one-half the feed the eveing before fight day unless fought at night and then only one-half white of hard boiled egg. Through this procedure, cocks will come up in weight, even on less feed, and be hungry and ” a walkin’ and talkin’ in your hands” as they enter the pit.

Some conditioners endeavor to control this timing, or peaking, through the use of various drugs. I find that the best overall, and the most consistent, results are obtained by foloowing the procedure outlined here.
Black Magic 4oz. powdered charcoal 2oz. ground mustard 2oz. ground ginger 2 oz. red pepper 2 oz. cinnamon 1/2 oz. carbonate of iron (if obtainable) Sprinkle liberally on moist feed like salt “This is an appetite stimulator only. Use all during the keep.” Selection

The matter of selection of the fowl to be shown at a specific time is of the utmost importance to the cocker who wants to win. You have up a show of 12 birds from which you must show eight. Which ones should you use? In this respect, I always think of the advice given me by Elmer Ehrhart of York, Pennsylvania, over thirty years ago. He said : “Take only your Aces to the pit. Leave the Kings and Queens at home.” Again: “Play no favorites, select your show from the ones which are “ready” today.”On the negative side I often think of the advice given me by my father who said; “Many an attorney accepts a case which at first he thinks has no chance of success. But the more he works on the case he becomes convinced he has a chance, then when the verdict goes against him he is sunk.” It is the same way with cocking. We put a second rate bird in the keep, but he improves and we “talk ourselves” into believing that he can win. But he doesn’t. So beware of “talking yourself” into a win. Rather follow the advice of old Elmer: “Take only the Aces to the pit.” The Kings and Queens,well, use them for hacking or leave them at home. The chances are that they willmeet someone else’s Ace and you will have a zero on the scoreboard. Section 2


Taming a cock is a feature in the conditioning process most keeps omit entirely. Personally, I consider it of the utmost importance. Just as important as the feed and exercise parts.

Probably more important. By means of feed and bench work you can’t improve a cock’s hpysical strength a great deal, but by proper taming you can improve his readiness for battle 1,000 percent. Look at it this way: You bring a cock which has been accustomed to quiet surroundings and familiar people into a strange place, slap a set of heels on him, then take him to a brilliantly lighted arena with a different sort of pit surface, and a mob of strangers raising a racket like a boiler factory and expect him to ignore all these strange sitghts and sounds and turn in a superb exhibition of fighting. Under similar circumstances great opera singers have been known to become distraught and they could not utter a sound.

Gamecocks react the same way. Especially the high-strung ones which have been all keyed up anyway. I’ve see high-class cocks so confused by all the noise, lights, and commotion that they would not even leave their scores, and were killed before they lifted a foot. Cocks can become accustomed to airplanes passing overhead or a barking dog racing along the fence, but it takes some time and it’s up to you to get them aquainted with such surroundings. Here’s how: Start in early when you first select your show four weeks before fight day, and as you pass his coop, drop in a little piece of white bread about the size of a dime. In a few days he will be looking for the bread and learn that when you stop by his coop that you are not going to harm him but rather that you have something for him which he likes. Pretty soon most of them will take bread from your fingers. Fine. You have made a good start. If he doesn’t , don’t insist, but drop the bread gently before him and move on. He will tame down in time.

Whyen you have to catch the cock to move him from one pklace to another do so very gently. Take your time. Avoid getting him excited or making him wild. If he goes to ramming or flying around, leave him alone for a while and let him settle down. Then, when you get him in hand, pet him and rub him slowly and gently for a minute or so before placing him in his new quarters. When you do set him down, do it slowly and gently. Don’t heave him into his new coop. Let him know that you are not going to hurt him, that he can have cinfidence in you. Offer him a bite of apple while you have him in hand, if he accepts it, so much the better.

Now when you first bring a stag into the conditioning house, that is a particularly critical time. Everything there is new to him. Take it slow and easy. always have some pieces of bread or chopped apple on the work bench for him. Place him gently on the work bench, let him look around and get aquainted with the place for 20- 25 seconds, keeping your hands on him gently all the time. Then, when he gets ready to walk around, as he will in a few seconds, walk around with him very slowly and gently.

He may even eastsome of the “goodies” you have placed there for him. But keep your hands on him gently all the time, and make no quick or fast moves. After a minute or so, lift him gently off the board, rub him for a few seconds, and then carefully ease him into his cock stall, releasing him slowly, and quietly close the door.

I’ve gone into this with much detail which sounds like kindergarten stuff, yet I know countless men who have been conditioning roosters for 60 years who to this moment have their twice a day “go-around” with the cocks in their care. They never fail to remark when they visit me how tame my birds are and what a tussle they have with theirs. My birds aren’t tame. By nature they are not as tame as theirs are since mine are more high strung. It’s all a matter of how you handle them, and particular, how you start in.

The first few times you taka a cock out of a conditioning stall is another critical time. Do this very quietly and very gently. By all means avoid getting him “het up” and flouncing around in there. Better to leave him in there than to get him all excited and fighting you. Sometimes you can divert his attention with feed in his cup so that you can get your hands on him gently without raising a fuss. Once in hand remove him slowly from the cock stall, pet him for a few seconds, then put him on the work bench where the “goodies” are, and walk him around for a while as you did the first time.

Don’t attempt to “work” him those first few trips. Rather, concentrate on having him aquainted with the place and liking it there. Another dandy tidbit to put on the work bench for taming a cock are little pieces of unsalted butter about the size of a pea. They love it; dance and jumparound calling the hens annd forgewt all about you and being afraid. While he is in that mood, take your hands off him and back away a step or two so that he owns the work bench himself. It’s his now. Then slowly approach him with your hands down rather than extended as if to catch him and when you get alongside him, slowly and gently put your hands back on him, move him around a little, pick him up, pet him a few times, and carefully return to his stall.

All this seems like an awful lot of detail and actually takes longer to read than to do it, but if done right the first few times it pays big dividends, and saves a tremendous amount of time for all the remainder of the keep, to say nothing of avoiding countless scratches and bruises to yourself. In a couple of days you should be able to open the cock stall door and have the cock come out to you by himself, fly to the work bench, crow and strut around without your laying a hand on him. That’s when you’ll be glad you spent all that care with him at the beginning. Now you can work him with pleasure instead of engaging in a “free for all” twice a day. That same relationship carries over when you move him from pen to pen. He will be right at the door waiting for you to pick him up and carry him to new quarters. He always enjoys changes.

After a few days of this and the cock is thoroughly at home in the cock house and thinks the place is his, it’s time to introduce him to noise and confusion. The best thing I know for this is a portable radio. Turn it to some station which carries on a continuous program of news, music and weather, turn it up full blast and let him listen to Rock ‘n Roll, tom toms and all the rest of the noises including human shouting until he becomes as sick and accustomed to it as you are. Sports events are especially good with all the shouting.

Also make plenty of noise while you are in the cockhouse. Drop pans or buckets on the floor. Get him use to them and teach him they will not harm him. Let people come to the cock house and blab away while you’re working the birds. Let him get use to them. He will encounter plenty of noise and confusion at the pit, so let him get use to them ahead of time. If a cock will be fought under electric lights, by all means work him on the training table under electric lights so that he will become accustomed to them. Likewise, if he is to fight at night, spar him at night and have the pit floor as nearly as possible like the pit floor where he will fight. Bring the radio to the sparring pit and have it blaring away as loud as you can while the sparring is going on.

I have a couple of little 3x2x2 portable, collapsible scratch pens which I take with me on multi-day meets. These are setup with some shucks or straw for litter in or about the cock house. After the cock has been worked I placed him in there for three minutes while I work the next cock. Throw a few grains of feed in there and he makes the straw fly. Placing him in there and taking him out also adds to the taming. Do it slowly, and gently so as to build up confidence between you and him. Many times I’ve carried the birds on a long night haul, and when they arrived at their destination were a bit squeamish with the new quarters. But, five minutes in the familiar scratch coops and everything was alright again. They owned the place. That’s the attitude you want to develope. All these little things help to obtain it. When heeling the cocks I greatly prefer to do the holding and to let someone else tie on the heels. I can tell the fellow how I want the heels put on and watch him while he does it,but I can’t tell the cock that the fellow who is holding him in the most uncomfortable position possible, which is what most of them do, is a friend of mine and relax. The cock does not understand this. So I’ll do the holding myself. The cock is used to me and my hands, so he is relaxed and comfortable and everything is fine. It’s the same way with handling. By no stretch of the imagination am I an expert handler, but the cock knows me and is used to my way of handling him. Accordingly, he is more relaxed with me amid all the noise and confusion than he would be in the hands of a stranger. If you or the man who put up the birds are not going to handle, at least have whoever has done the conditioning bring him into the pit, weigh him, walk him around while he becomes accustomed to the surroundings and then pass him to the handler just before the start of the battle.

So that is about all I can think to tell about taming a cock. Remember always that a cock cannot produce more than a fraction of his potential ability in the pit if he is distracted by the strange sights, sounds, and surroundings. It is your duty as a conditioner to aquaint him with those conditions ahead of time.

Don’t condemn him as a dunce because he just stands there and gets killed in his bewilderment. Call yourself a dunce for not aquainting with such conditions in advance. That’s what I’ve called myself, and worse names, many times. Working or Exercising I was brought up on the “100 runs 100 flies” practice of working a cock in order to strengthen his muscles, improve his wind, enable him to fight longer, and make him harder to kill. Such exercises may improve all of those desirable traits to a limited extent, but of one thing I am certain; they surely take the cut out of him! And I would rather have cutting ability than all those others combined. I don’t care how tough and strong a cock is, he can’t take many shots to the lungs or underneath the wings, and keep going. And that’s were a real cutting cock is going to pop him.

Accordingly, long ago I abandoned the old heavy bench work practices, and concentrated on keeping a cock fresh, loose, alert , and confident wherever he is, especially in the pit which I want him to consider his own domain. That is the principal or basis of this keep. So have it constantly in mind. It all is designed to promote cutting and confidence.

It is my conviction that 90% of a cock’s strength, power and endurance comes from his inheritance in the brood yard and from his 365 day feed and care. That leaves only 10% possible improvement for the conditioner to work on with his special feed, exercise and stimulants to bring a cock up to 100% potential. And while the upward limit is 10%, the downward limit is much greater, and I feel certain that many conditioning methods are more likely to decrease a healthy cock’s chances than they are to improve them. Likewise it is my belief that a cock hits as much with his heart as he does with his feet and legs. Accordingly, everything you can do to encourage him to put all of his heart into his punches is of more importance than any small increase in physical strength which you can give him. As regards the latter, my experience has been that the exercise program forth here develops just as much strength and endurance as any other, and promotes infinitely more cut and desire. With this statement of objectives set forth, let’s get going to the practices.

You will need certain facilities and equipment. Hopefully you already have most of them and can build the others at small expense

1) A cock house. I like to use peat moss in the stalls. It’s sort of dusty, but the cocks wont eat it, it’s soft on their feet and bodies, they soon find that there’s nothing to eat in there, and consequently remain quiet and are not scratching around all day, and it’s very absorbant of moisture. This latter is important, especially where you are shifting cocks from the outside to the inside frequently. Nothing is so dangerous for developing rattles as moisture in the cock house, and peat moss helps to protect against the hazard.

2) Fly pens. As many as the number of cocks you plan to put up at one time. “Here is where 90% of your work is done. Just don’t overdo it like so many cockers do. Two days at a time for a total of 12 days over a period of three weeks should be enough. Little or non the last week.” They should be about ten feet high, four feet wide, and fifteen feet deep. I like to have six inches or more of washed gravel for the floor or bottom. Dirt is too dusty and I don’t like boards or concrete. The fly pens should be covered, if outside, with only the front open. For litter use corn shucks if you can get them. If not, use clean bright straw or hay. If you use straw or hay, put in fresh litter every keep or so. Cocks like to scratch in clean bright stuff. Don’t put the litter in too deep. You don’t want to stiffen the fowl by too strenuous scratching. There probably is more or less feed in straw or hay.

Watch out for this or the cocks might get a lot more feed when they first go in there than you want them to have. Sometimes I put a couple of hens in each pen for a day or so ahead of time to clean out the grain in the litter. If you can get alfalfa hay, that’s fine. Throw in a small chunk of it from time to time. Not every day. The cocks will tear it up in great shape and probably eat some of it which is good for them. For roosts I like swinging perches alternating front and back. The cocks can see each other that way and do alot more flying up and down, which is what you want them to do. Keep the front covered high enough up so that the cocks can’t see outside when on the floor. Have a few hens running loose outside. The cocks want to “watch the girls go by,” but don’t let them “stand on the corner” to do it. Make them fly up to their perches to enjoy the sights. 3) Regular outside coops 4x4x7 or some such dimension.

Smaller is just as good. No doubt you already have them. Put a few inches of washed gravel in there. No litter. You don’t want the cocks to be scratching while in them. We will call these sand coops for identification.

4) The same type coops set outside on the grass, when there is grass. We will call them grass coops. I prefer to use coops on grass instead of tie cords. 5) Two or three small 2x2x3 coops set inside or near the cock house with a small quantity ofshucks or other litter in them.

These are cooling off pens. Place a cock in there for two or three minutes after you have worked him so he can scratch around while you are working the next bird. Then, return to his cock house stall for feeding. Now that you have the equipment all set, let’s get on with it’s use. The fly pens provide most of the cock’s work. It is natural voluntary exercise which will not stiffen the muscles if not overdone. Start in four weeks prior to fight date. Do not feed the cock in the evening prior to placing him in the fly pen. Instead, give him a worm pill while he is empty, and a good delousing. Then, place him in the fly pen for the night. It is a good thing to remove him from his regular coop at night in order not to excite him by catching him in the daytime. The following dy don’t feed him anything either morning or night. Instead, mix up a drink of black- strap molasses and water, about a half-cup full to a gallon. This black-strap molasses water acts as a tonic and a laxative. I prefer it to bread and sweet milk for such purposes, but if you can’t get black-strap molasses, give the cock a good big feed of bread and sweet

milk that first morning he is in the fly pen but nothing at night. By the next morning he should be plenty empty and hungry. Start in then with your regular feeding program as described in the first section. Don,t doctor up your feed at all with any raw eggs or fancy stuff. Just dry grain scattered in the litter. Clean water before him all the time. Also grit and oyster shell.

The secret to using fly pens successfully is to keep the cock active, scratching and flying while he is in there. In order to accomplish this is don’t leave him there for too long a stretch at a time. Break it up by removing him to the grass pen or the sand pen about every third day. Likewise, don’t overfeed. Hence the feed measuring cup so you will know how much feed he is getting. Keep him hungry and scratching. I like to have the cock in the fly pen about two-thirds of the time for the first two weeks, and on grass (if there is any) the other third. If no grass, then in the sand pens. But don’t be a slave to any rigid schedule. If a nice warm day comes along after a cold stretch of weather put him outside even if he was just outside the previous day. The sun will do more for him than the scratching. On the other hand, if on the day he is scheduled to go outside it is raining or snowing or blowing hard, don’t put him out were he will be uncomfortable and miserable. Leave him were he is or take him into the cock house and let him rest. Anything for a change. I don’t like to leave a cock in the fly pens for more than three days at a stretch. It works him too hard and makes him logey. If there is not grass give him some chopped apple, onion and lettuce in a cup every day or so. Even daily if you wish. Feed it at noon if it’s convenient. If not, just before feeding is perfectly o.k. The whole point is that you want to keep him fresh, alert, loose, and happy at all times. That comes first. The schedule is secondary. Change it as neccessary to accomplish the main objective. Weigh the bird each time you take him out of the fly pen, note his state of flesh, make record of it on a chart, and feed accordingly. During these first two weeks it would be fine to give him the white of a hard boiled egg occasionally, about one to every three cocks. It wont put on any weight and he loves it. Anything to keep him happy. Also, don’t forget to begin the taming routine by giving him little pieces of bread once or twice a day. By the end of two weeks he should be quite tame and friendly, which is important. That pretty well takes care of the first two weeks or so. “Be sure to change location of cocks every couple of days all during the pre-condition and the keep.”

About two weeks prior to fight time bring the cock into the cock house, exercising all the care and gentleness described previously. It doesn’t have to be exactly fourteen days. If there has been a long spell of foul weather and the 14th day is bright and fine, leave him out in the grass or sand pen for another day or two. There’s no hard and fast schedule to be followed in the cock house. One thing to be avoided is to bring him in when he is wet. Don’t do that ever. If he should get wet when outside at any time, put him in the fly pen to dry out over night and feed him in a cup out there. A wet cock in a condition coop stall is a dandy way to bring on rattles.

Up until 72 hours before fight time I like to feed in the cock house both morning and night, have him roost there, but spend the day outside whenever possible. Most of such outside time will be spent in the sand coops. I don’t mind his being on grass if he’s used to it. Alternate between the two during all that time. If the weather is bad you might give him a day in the fly pen but no more than one day at a time and only then to break up the monotony of the other quarters. I prefer not to use the fly pens at all the last two weeks, and never the last week. Feed in cups to discourage scratching.

The bench or hand work in the cock house is light, simple and easy. Principally it consists of taming and making friends with him. You are not going to make his muscles any stronger or tougher than they are already by your hand work in the last two weeks. Instead of working him to death in there, concentrate on toning him up, building his ego and confidence in himself and in you, getting him aquainted with you and his surroundings and the many distractors he wqill encounter at the pit. Tone up his muscles through proper food and rest. Probably rest, enforced rest, will do more toward accomplishing that than anything else. Stimulate his desire through certain things you add to his food. Keep him fresh,loose, alert, confident, and happy.

When you first put him on the bench, take it slow and easy. Make the work bench a pleasant place for him to be. A play pen rather than a torture chamber. Walk him around and back and forth very slowly at first.

As he becomes accustomed to the exercise gradually speed it up and increase the number of runs. He should be on his toes, tripping along like a ballet dancer. If he enjoys this and keeps talking to you all the time, you can run him at the peak of his work up to 40 or 50 times, counting over as one and back as two,etc. But don’t continue it beyond the point where he is enjoying and enthusiastic about the work.

If he does not like to be run, as some cocks don’t, and braces himself against you stiff legged, don’t run him at all. All you will accomplish is to stiffen his leg muscles and that’s bad. Do something else with him in the exercise line which he enjoys.

Maybe he enjoys being flown or flirted. All right, do that. But for no longer liking it or enthusiastic about the game. Non of this ” work till he begins to breathe hard and his mouth is open.” I don’t go for that at all. If he does not like being flown and tries to pop you the second he lands, don’t do that either. Most cocks like to be flown toward the work bench. Step back a few feet and toss him toward it. When he lands he should flap his wings, dance around and crow. Gradually increase the distance of the flight. This is fun for him and very stimulating, so don’t overdo it. Four or five times at the most. If he has already taken a goodly number of runs and flies, a couple is enough. I usually end up this session on the bench with this exercise, then weigh him and put him in a little scratch coop while I work the next bird. After you have worked or played with the birds for a week and you are well aquainted with each other, you might try placing him on his back on the work bench were he will have to struggle to regain his feet. You hope he will never get knocked into that position but he might, so he may as well get some experience in regaining his feet. No cock enjoys this exercise, so don’t do it over a couple a times at a session.

Some people like to “tail” a cock on the work bench. It is a spectacular procedure, but I never saw the cock yet which did not hate it, which is reason enough for me not to do it. Besides it is inclined to stiffen a cock’s leg muscles, which is equally bad.

Many people like to hold a cock by the thighs and make him flutter, or balance him on their arm and make him do the same. The fowl hate this too, and likewise, it is inclined to stiffen the leg muscles. So I don’t do it.

Their leg muscles have already had enough exercise by the natural scratching in the fly pens and flying up onto the swinging perches. I,m More interested in having the cock feel friendly and have confidence in me, and I don’t want to exercise him in any way which will decrease his cutting ability. Another thing to avoid is having a wild or noisy bird in the cock house. One such agitator in there is apt to make all the other birds wild and agitated, which is the last thing in the world you want to occur.So throw him out. If you are compelled to fight him, do so right out of the sand pen. You’ll not be able to do him any good in the cock house, and he will frustrate the other birds. The last three days or 72 hours before fight time, complete rest. This is the time you want him to build up his energy for the big effort. Nothing will accomplish this so well as rest. Complete enforced rest. Keep his exercise and scratching down to a minimum, just enough to maintain his appetite and to keep him from becoming bored and sluggish. A famous doctor once said that people would be far healthier if they spent one full day a every week in bed. Rest. Complete bed rest. Probably he was right. But who would do all the chores and pay the bills? Besides, look at all the fun you would be missing. So his good idea never gained acceptance. But fighting cocks are not under such compulsions. Observe what wild geese do on their long thousand mile migratory flights. Do they go flying exercising their muscles in preparation for such flights? No, they rest. Rest for days storing up energy for the big effort. And they do the same between the thousand mile hops. Rest and eat. That’s all. I guess that’s enough to give you the idea. During these 72 hours, feed less rather than more. The cock does not require so much food while he is resting, and you don’t want to get him sluggish from overeating. Keep him a little bit on the hungry side during this time, and at the hour of battle he should be real hungry. It wont weaken him, and he will be sharp and eager. Just don’t overdo it.

A few tips as to what to do and what to avoid may be helpful:

On a long haul, travel by night. The cocks rest better and it is cooler.

Tough on you but good for the cocks. A little discomfort or inconvenience to you is worth it, especially since you’ve spent weeks, months and years preparing for this event.

Be careful of odors. Any kind of odors. A cock’s respiratory organs are extremely sensitive. If you want to paint or creosote your cock stalls or carrying cases, do it months in advance so that all the smells have disappeared. Be especially careful to avoid exhaust fumes from your automobile. These can ruin everything in just a few minutes. Avoid airconditioning units. These things affect adversely even human beings, and fowl are far more sensitive than people. Watch out for heat at any time, especially in the 72 hours. Heat weakens a cock tremendously. He can’t sweat and throw it off like you can. Do everything you can to avoid getting a cock hot, particularly the 24 hours before battle. On fight day feed only one-third white of hard-boiled egg and a few sips of water. If birds are to be fought in the afternoon, don’t feed even the hard egg. You want them empty and hungry when they enter the pit. For exercise, just two or three short flies toward the work bench to keep their muscles loose. The lack of feed will not weaken them. Weigh in at the very last minute. Your birds may drop an ounce or two during the last few hours which will enable you to meet a smaller bird on the match list. Do all your trming out a few days prior to fight date. A couple a pecks at a cut orange or a sip of water after heeling is o.k, but many times I don’t even do that. To repeat: remember always that the foundation of this keep freshness, loose, relaxed muscles, alertness, eagerness, and confidence. Also remember that there is no substitute for your own thinking. No keep schedule can anticipate all the situations you will encounter. If you get into a jam, you might consult some other exoerienced cocker. He possibly could help you, but probably not, for he can not know all you have done or failed to do. In all likelihood you,ll have to figure it out for yourself. If the situation is real severe, which calls for drastic action, don’t do it. Forget it, cuss me, and try again. At least you’ll save your money.

I believe strngly that it is better to fight a cock when he is “ready” than when he is “conditioned”. If a cock is in robust health, full of fire, and rarin’ to go, that is the time to use him, even if he is a little heavy and has not been handled much. All any keep can do for a bird is put him is put him in the condition he is in right now. If you mess around with him for two or three weeks he very likely will lose that edge and not be as good as he is today.

After all it is the cock himself who must do the fighting. All any keep can do is to enable him to put forth the best effort of which he is capable.

I’ll not tell you how good this keep is. That is for you to judge based upon your own experience with it. I’ve used it for years with conspicuous success in top company, and consistently set down outstanding cutting fowl. The system is as nearly foolproof as any I know. So keep your old think tank working all the time you are following this keep, and I hope you knock’em all down! Sincerely, Narragansett In the first printing of this booklet I goofed through not saying anything about sparring. It is an important part of the conditioning process, and most cockers do not make the most of it. I like to have fowl reasonably tame and accustomed to being handled and aquainted with their surroundings before sparring at all. It is unfair and likely to produce faulty judgement to spar a bird when it is wild, nervous and distracted by all the new surroundings. When you have the birds reasonably gentled down and aquainted with you, proceed as follows: 1st sparring. Bill the birds until they are thoroughly mad at each other, and drop them down real close together. Practically on top of one another. They will go together like a shot. Snatch up as quickly as you can,point at each other and drop down again, just as close as the first time. Snatch up immediately. Do this four times. The entire session will not take over half a minute. This teaches them to swing into action the second their feet touch the pit floor. Pet and rub them gently and return to their quarters. 2nd sparring. Start out the same way. Only between rounds take a step backward. This requires them to run a few steps before breaking. But keep the rounds a continuous process. No wait or hesitation between rounds. 3rd sparring. The same as number two, only increase the distance between the birds when setting down. They should cover the distance between them like a flash before breaking into the air. If they don’t, shorten the distance and try again. No hesitation between pittings. On the third round of this session let them go at each other for a while. This is when you can judge their fighting style: whether they are low-headed, duckers, hit deliberately or merely fan the air, look where they hit, wheel, all that sort of thing. This is when you select your show. Give them a rest, then set down fairly close to each other, snatch up as soon as they come together and return to fly pens or scratch pens. Throw out the ones that do not make the team. This session should be held about a week before fight day. 4th sparring. About 48 hours before fight day. This is just a tune-up session to keep them on edge. Set down fairly close to each other and snatch up immediately. Only two rounds. You don’t want them to get stiff or sore.



Carbohydrate Loading Keep

by Don Blansett

The sport of cockfighting has existed for hundreds of years, but like most sciences, more progress has been made in the past fifty than all those preceding years. The average cocks of today could defeat those cocks bred and fed in the 1920’s. Why? For the same reasons human beings today are stronger, bigger and faster than their grandparents: breeding and feeding. Great strides have been made in genetics and nutrition in the past fifty, and particularly, the last twenty years. Consequently, average life expectancy, general health, and size have increased by leaps and bounds. In the animal world horses run faster, cows produce more milk and beef, hens lay more eggs, and so on.

Cockers of today are more knowledgeable and generally better educated, with more available information, than ever before. But, while most cockers are great students of experience, as a rule, they do little to actually study genetics and nutrition with an eye toward improving the ability and performance of their fowl. This conditioning method is an attempt to enable many cockers to “catch up” with the latest scientific developments in nutrition and training.The research, the studying, and the experimentation have been done for you. This keep can work for you.

I have read dozens of keeps, and while I have not seen one written in the last ten years that would actually be detrimental to your fowl, most have been fairly similar as to feed and work. You will find that this keep is different in its approach, than any you have ever used. To be successful, you must follow this keep closely, in quantity of feed and work, and in type of feed and timing.

This conditioning method is based on the latest studies concerning athletic competition, and what are cocks except athletes? The principle behind it is known as “carbohydrate loading”. To understand fully how this keep works, you should know a little about nutrition and its effects. So you can understand the ideas involved, I will try to simplify them.

The amount of energy that a muscle will be able to produce depends on the amount of “glycogen” stored in that muscle. Glycogen is a chemical that serves as fuel for the muscle. The more glycogen present in the muscle, the longer that muscle will be able to act effectively. Studies have shown that if glycogen stores are depleted by exercise and a low carbohydrate diet, then replaced by rest and a high carbohydrate diet, the muscle can store twice as much glycogen, or energy, as it had originally. No one needs to tell you what this means in practical terms: your cock will hit harder, and more importantly, will be able to do it much longer than he would have otherwise. He will maintain that deadly punch for a greater period of time. I will explain about carbohydrates, proteins and fats in more detail when we get to the subject of feed.

Finally, let me say that this is the closest thing to a workingman’s keep that you can find. It does not require 12 hours a day to be effective. The maximum time needed would be I to 2 hours in the morning and the same in the evening. The quantity of the time spent with your show of cocks is not as important as the quality of the time. Make sure that your time is well organized and efficient. This keep does require good cocks in good health cocks that are well bred and have been fed and cared for properly all their lives. There is no keep, and especially, no substance, that will make up for lack of care. So if you bought this keep because you have been lazy your cocks are in poor health from lack of care then you cannot expect this conditioning method, or any other, to do them any good.

Pre-Keep? What’s That?

My feeling on this subject is that our cocks should be in a pre-keep all their lives well fed, but at approximate fighting weights, worm free and deloused. I hope you don’t have cocks that are any other way. I have fought cocks off strings, out of fly pens and out of holding pens with no appreciable difference in performance when this keep is used for the last fourteen days. The important thing to remember is that fowl are like people, in that they become bored with the same surroundings. Whenever possible, rotate cocks on a regular basis from fly pens to holding pens to string walks. This will keep the cocks active and alert and prevent them from becoming coop-stale. Handle your cocks often, except in moulting season, to tame them and to determine their weights so that their feed rations can be adjusted accordingly.

I cannot overemphasize the fact that you should put up only those cocks that are gentle and well mannered. Life is too short to fool with manfighters besides, it is my belief that most manfighters are not truly game. However, don’t confuse manfighters with nervous, high-strung fowl. Also, many otherwise gentle cocks will hit back if mishandled or when they are becoming sharp during the keep. Like boxers, cocks in training love to snap a few punches at an available target. In summary, just let me say that if a cock doesn’t gentle down, doesn’t stop hitting or pecking when picked up, after a week’s gentle handling, don’t consider him for a keep. Kill him, breed him (if you are a fool), but don’t put him up to fight.

Since I am on the subject, I’ll attempt to give you a good all around feed routine, as well as a worming and delousing schedule. Your daily feed for fowl on your yard should consist of approximately 55% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 30% fat. Since most laying mash is 12% to 15% protein, you will need to supplement the protein, unless you use the 20 to 30% protein lay pellets offered by some feed stores. A good all-around feed, and one that is as cheap as possible without sacrificing quality, is one part scratch (which consists of cracked corn and wheat), one part 20% laying pellets and one part soaked oats. For those cockers in the less temperate areas, substitute whole corn for scratch in the winter. Sure, you can buy more expensive feeds, but for a good sound all-purpose feed, this mixture can’t be beaten. As for supplementing protein, in moderation, you can use “trout chow”, fish meal, or even some high protein dog food such as Gaines. But always remember use these in moderation. Because, after all, you are feeding chickens, and the closer you stay to a natural diet, the better off you will be. A lot of fancy feeds will just upset a fowl’s digestion. The opinions on amounts and times of feeds would fill a book much larger than this. Adjust your feed in accordance with the weight of the cock. Whether you feed once or twice daily depends on so many variables, I wouldn’t even begin to try to dictate to you climate, types of pens, breeds of fowl. Go with what works best for you. One hint though, if you have rather severe winters, make sure your cocks are fed as close to dark as possible, the more corn the better, if this is a second feed. It has been my experience that a cock with a full crop can stand those cold nights much better than one that is empty.

As for worming and delousing get on a regular schedule. If you have string walks, change the leg bands every Saturday or Sunday or whatever, just do it regularly. The same goes for worming and delousing. Fowl should be wormed and deloused every month. In fact, I often delouse and worm any time I have an occasion to catch one of my fowl running loose on the yard. Any number of good products are available for getting rid of lice. Several are advertised in your gamefowl journals and I have heard good comments about most all of them. Most farm and feed stores carry a brand of lice powder. I know some cockers who use Black Leaf 40 to delouse, often with a chemical dip, but I don’t advise this. I know of one prominent cocker who completely submerged all his battle cocks in a delousing solution way over 100 of them. By the time he had finished the last one, he looked back, and the first ones were beginning to fall over. He lost every single treated cock that day, and although he is beginning to win again this year, it took him three years to regain his previous position. So I don’t recommend dips, nor do I recommend Black Leaf 40 for the amateur.

The only worm medicine I can recommend is the Wormal product from Salsbury Laboratories. If you follow directions on the bottle, Piperzine liquid wormer is okay too, especially for young fowl. But remember, Piperzine only kills one type of worm, the roundworm, while Wormal will kill three types of worms, including the roundworm. Don’t be misled by sensational claims in the gamefowl journals advertising a revolutionary new worm medicine. If a more effective worm medicine had been discovered, believe me, the commercial poultry men would be using it. They’re using Wormal, and so am I. Some worms hatch on 10-day cycles, so to be safe, worm on Saturday, and then 10 days later. After that, follow your monthly schedule to control worms. Just remember that worms, like lice, can never be completely eliminated, just controlled.

Vitamins: Myth or Magic?

The truth about the effects of vitamins actually lies somewhere in between. I have had to rethink my position on vitamins recently. Three years ago, I, along with most scientists, doctors and nutritionists, felt that all the vitamins a person needed were contained in a well-balanced diet. ‘Using vitamin and mineral supplements was just paying for expensive urine, the body’s way of discarding unneeded vitamins. However, today most experts agree that extra vitamins can play an important role in any serious training program, as long as massive doses are not used. It is quite possible to die from overdoses of vitamins vitamin D, for example. Certain vitamins such as C and B-12 are water soluble, which means that the body does not absorb what it doesn’t need, and one cannot receive an overdose from these vitamins. So, in conclusion, let me say that although vitamins and their effects are still not completely understood, it is clear that cocks under the physical strain of intensive conditioning can benefit from an extra vitamin and mineral supplement, such as we advise in this program.

Water, Water, Everywhere …

Every keep I have ever read mentions drying cocks out before they fight by limiting their water intake. Some of the directions are moderate and some are radical. Cockers thirty or forty years ago often gave their cocks no water for the last two days! In to-, day’s fast-paced competition, I know of no surer way to get them killed. Cocks need moisture in their bodies to convert glycogen to energy. Exactly how much water a cock needs is determined by so many factors it is impossible to predict with any certainty but I will say this, give your cocks all the water they will drink during the keep. Believe me, the cocks are better judges of what they need than we are. In fact, in extremely cold weather, you may want to encourage cocks to drink by giving them warm water or warm water mixed with powdered milk. Always keep water by your cocks during the keep, up until 24 hours or so before the fight, when you want to regulate every bit of their feed and water intake. Consider this fact: when a cock loses 2% of his body weight in water, his ability to perform begins to deteriorate. In other words, he is riot fighting up to his potential. Two percent of a 5 pound cock’s weight is 1.6 ounces, a little over one and a half ounces. SO, if you bring a cock into a fight with all the moisture he needs in his tissues, he has a much better chance. And that, my friend, is the name of the game.

When pressed, most cockers will describe a cock on point” as a bundle of nerves, bobbing, clucking, moving a cocked gun. I define a cock on point as being a cock that is ready and at the peak of his health, strength and well-being. For years, I have corresponded with a prominent cocker who has continually pressed this idea on me: “Fight your cocks when they are ready, not when you are.” This means taking cocks to the pit when they are at the peak of their mental and physical well-being.

“Pointing” is a natural thing. It is the end result of several contributing factors: the cock is empty, he has been rested force rested, and he is sexually and physically frustrated from inactivity. As a result of all these factors, his blood sugar level is way up, his energy is at its peak and he is not only ready, he’s anxious for an outlet, he wants to fight. Often a cock “on point” is described as “corky” to describe a cock that is light and bobs like a cork on water. There is really no way to describe a cock on point but I guarantee you’ll know it when you feel him. This is not something to be taught, it must be experienced.


Sparring can be a valuable tool for the cocker if done properly. First, it is a tool for selection it allows the cocker to get some idea of how a cock will fight. Secondly, a cock can learn some things during the course of a session, good habits as well as bad. Thirdly, sparring can be a valuable outlet for a cock’s pent-up energy, allowing him to vent his rage and delay his coming on point too early.

Some cockers use a catch cock and attempt to “teach” a cock to hit at a cock’s tail even if he can’t see his head. Also, some cockers tie a catch cock’s legs to see if he will score on a down cock. I am doubtful if either of these practices does the slightest bit of good, because I think the aggressiveness of the cock is determined in the brood pen.

However, cocks, to a certain degree, can be taught to score quickly. This is the way. First, bill your cocks really well, flush them and set them down close together, close enough so they’ll get at one another very fast. Let them have a good pitting, enough to make them really mad, but don’t let them wallow and break feathers. After a 15 second rest, flush them and set them down about three feet apart. Now, here is the important part: when the cocks break, catch them immediately. Then without rest, set them down 5 feet apart, let them break and catch them. This time set them down 8 feet apart, let them break and catch them. Set them down again 8 feet apart and this time let them mix it up good. The purpose of this type of sparring is simple: the cocks will begin to score more quickly and break higher. Also, you are not giving them enough time to get tired and start ducking. If you let cocks spar until they are very tired, they will learn to duck really quickly, and this habit must be avoided.


To attain maximum condition, a cock must be worked, and worked hard. Not all this work should be forced work, or hand-work-most of it should, in fact, be natural work, the kind a cock will do in a good fly pen with litter. He will scratch and fly up and down many times a day, complementing the handwork you give him. I feel that it is impossible to get a cock “muscle-bound” as some keeps would allow you to believe. It is quite possible to make a cock sore and stiff by overwork. That is why this method allows a cock to “rest up” from his conditioning program two full days before his fight. This “rest” period serves several purposes. First, if the cock has sore or stiff muscles, this time allows those muscles to regain their original elasticity, yet retain the strength that has been developed. Secondly, blood sugar begins to rise with the decrease in work, beginning the pointing process. Thirdly, it allows for the glycogen content in the muscles to increase.

Some cocks will not be able to take the work of this conditioning program. That in itself should give you some idea as to whether your cocks are really quality fowl. It has been my experience that truly well bred cocks won’t fold under the pressure of the work. Rather, they will rebound and thrive on such activity, eager to work.

While realizing that volumes could be written on this subject alone, I think that it is sufficiently important to touch on at least the major points. In fact, I believe that the majority of 3-1 and 4-1 derby scores that you see can be attributed to the lack of attention that most cockers pay to this chore. After all, your derby show is only as good as your worst cock. If you approach the selection of your derby show with the attitude that “Well, this cock isn’t so good, but maybe I’ll get lucky and meet another weak cock,” then you might as well stay at home. Always select the best cocks you have to condition.Your first step in selecting is to examine the overall health of the cock. Eyes should be bright, feathers slick and oily, and he should just give off an impression of active vitality. Examine feet and legs for sores or bumbles, the breastbone for sores, and the mouth and head for blisters. Check to make sure the cock is lice-free. He should, in your judgment, be within two ounces of fighting weight. It would be difficult to take more than that off in two weeks without weakening the cock, or put more than two ounces on with a rigorous training schedule. Check for broken wing or tail feathers. Do not fight cocks with badly broken feathers. For a bent feather, where the shaft is bent but not broken, carefully straighten the shaft, and apply a small piece of tape to the feather. Usually, this will prevent further damage, at least temporarily.

If, in your opinion, the cock is in good health and near his actual fighting weight, then set him aside as a definite possibility. After you have narrowed down your selections to a workable number, weigh them, match according to weights, and spar. This is where the real selection process takes place. The good selector will be able to separate the duds from the aces, or at least the good cocks from the poor ones.

If possible, have two other people actually pit the cocks, so you can be free to observe. Watch how the cocks move, where they are aiming their licks, how accurate they are. Are they well balanced, do they position to hit again, do they have to have a bill-hold to hit, do they duck, are their licks delivered with snap? During the rest periods, how hard are they breathing? Is either rattling? The answers to these questions should determine your choices.

How many cocks to actually put up is a decision you must make, although this may be determined by the number of your available cocks. I would personally hesitate to enter a conditioning program without at least two cocks more than were needed. For example, for a 5-cock derby, I would put up seven or eight. If you put in two hard weeks of work on a show of cocks, it is heartbreaking to have one of your cocks come down with a cold the day before the derby and have to miss it. Remember Murphy’s Law: if anything can go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment! So, be prepared. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. About three years ago I had up six stags for a 5 stag derby. The morning before the derby I went to load my stags, and lo and behold, one stag was beat up, slip-bill and bloody, and one other was missing! After much head scratching, I finally-figured it out. What happened was this: the evening before the derby, one stag had gotten out of his holding stall probably I hadn’t latched it securely and immediately began to fight with the closest stag through the door. When darkness fell, the stag that was loose had stopped fighting and wandered outside (the door of the cockhouse was open for ventilation), into the woods-where he either died or was eaten by varmints. To make a long story short, determined to fight in the derby, I picked a stag off a string walk, loaded up and left. Know what happened? You guessed it. I won four and lost one the substitute! I still tied for the derby, but that one fight cost me about $3,000 in prize money. So don’t let it happen to you put up enough cocks to make up for these emergencies.

Drugs and Supplements

Most knowledgeable cockers will admit that there are many drugs and additives that can increase the performance level of your fowl IF, and this is the big if you know how to select the correct drug, administer the proper dosage, and give it at the proper time. A “drug”, whether you realize it or not, can be simply defined as any substance that can alter any one of the thousands of chemical actions that take place in the body. Alcohol is a drug. So is aspirin. Since the use of drugs during the conditioning process requires so much knowledge and experience in dosage, timing and the effects of the drugs themselves I can only recommend the use of two drugs for the average cocker. These two drugs are testosterone (male hormone) and vitamin B-12. All the successful cockers I know use one or both of these, whether they will admit it or not.

Testosterone, used in moderate and sensible doses, will help activate the pointing process by stimulating certain functions of the body that relate to physical and mental development of the male sex drive. Given in prolonged, massive doses (which you should never use), it will promote the growth process, causing accelerated muscle and bone growth.

Vitamin B-12 is a good, all-around the therapeutic drug. It promotes good appetite and soothes the nervous system. You cannot overdose on B-12 because it is “water-soluble”, meaning the body passes off what it cannot use. In fact, some people swear by B-12 as a sure cure for a hangover! B-12 is especially helpful in traveling cocks because it seems to calm them without any tranquilizing effect.

The use of these two drugs with this conditioning method is completely optional. If you are unsure about administering them, then by all means, don’t do it. Chances are, your cocks will do just as well without them, especially if you have doubts about their usage. As you become better acquainted with this method, you may want to try them later.

If you decide to use these drugs, you must follow my directions on dosage and timing. This is very important. I believe you should never give more than ¼ cc of any drug to a cock in keep. Remember, a cock has a small body mass compared to humans, so dosages must be adjusted accordingly. Always use a small gauge needle to avoid bruising or otherwise harming the tissue of the cock. Give all injections in the breast muscle, not near a bone. The ideal needle seems to be the disposable type used by diabetics. Most drug stores carry it and you won’t need a prescription to buy it. Just ask for insulin syringes. Never use one needle for two different drugs, and dispose of the syringe after three or four injections.

One cautionary note on the use of testosterone (male hormone) prolonged or often use of this drug may cause the cock to be sterile later on. You see, by injecting the male hormone, the body’s natural production of testosterone may be discouraged. In other words, if you use this drug on a cock in keep more than, say, four times a year, he won’t lay eggs next year, but he might not be fertile when bred to hens. So, don’t use it more than a couple of times a year on any cock you intend to breed. I don’t usually breed battle cocks, so I don’t have that problem.

Since I don’t want to promote anyone’s products I won’t recommend any particular supplier of testosterone or B-12. You can obtain either drug from advertisers in the gamefowl magazines or from a vet.

As I said before, there are drugs that will produce incredibly sharp cocks, if given at the proper times with the proper dosage, but if you make one error in using drugs, you will have incredibly dull cocks at fight time. So, I think if you are a beginner and/or do not have a lot of experience and knowledge, you are better off without the drugs. Remember, consistency is the key to an 80% win average, and I guarantee consistency will be easier without the use of a number of drugs.

At a later date, if the demand for such a book is sufficient, I will offer a complete guide to the use of drugs on gamefowl.

Traveling Cocks Next Stop, Sunset?

There are as many theories about transporting cocks from Point A (your cockhouse) to Point B (the pit), as there are Polish jokes. Common sense and a basic knowledge of fowl should be your guides. Gamefowl sleep from dark until dawn, (The exception being, of course, when your mother-in-law visits. Then they crow all night.) So, when you travel from Point A to Point B you want your fowl to obtain the maximum rest; in other words, to sleep through the trip if possible. The logical method, then, is to travel your cocks at night, allowing just enough traveling time to arrive at the pit when your cocks would normally be waking up at dawn. If you live within a four to six hour drive of the pit, and if that pit conducts its fights during the daytime, that’s exactly what you want to do.

If you insist on traveling your cocks to a pit more than 8 hours away, you must realize that you are facing a number of problems and you are placing yourself at a distinct disadvantage with the other, closer entries. If you really want to fight at Sunset and it’s 1000 miles away, my advice is:

1. Condition at the pit.

2. Fly your cocks down on a chartered plane.

3. Move to Louisiana.

If you plan to haul your cocks more than 8 hours at a stretch forget it. You are not going to compete on an equal basis with any local cocker at the pit, even if your cocks are better than his. Ever wonder why it’s so tough to whip a guy on his own turf? Think about it. With the number of fine local pits in the country, it shouldn’t be necessary for anyone to travel that far to enter a derby.

If you fight at night, take heart. All the other entries do, too. Personally, I don’t think you gain anything by moving your cocks to the pit a day early. The fact that the cocks are in strange surroundings will nullify any advantage you achieve by hauling them at night. The best you can do is hauling them as empty as possible and hope for the best. Let me add a piece of advice here. Whenever possible, haul cocks empty or at least when their crops have been emptied. If they are traveled with feed in their crops, they will not digest this feed and it will often sour.

The Keep Feed

As was mentioned previously, the principle behind this conditioning method is “carbohydrate loading”. To accomplish this, we must feed a low carbohydrate-high protein feed up until the last two days of the keep when the “loading” process begins. To “load” a cock, work will be dropped off and the cocks will be fed a high carbohydrate diet to increase the amount of glycogen in their muscles. Although this all sounds complicated, it really isn’t as you’ll see when we’ get into the feed and work.

The whole point of a keep is to put as much feed through a cock as possible without increasing his weight. We want to avoid upsetting the fowl’s digestion at all cost, so we will only feed natural feed during the keep feed that is a regular part of a chicken’s diet or feed specifically formulated for a chicken. To insure proper digestion, a fowl must have good, hard grit to help grind his feed’. Granite grit, not oyster shell, must be available to your cocks at all times. The best way to provide the grit is to keep • cup of it in your fly pens. You may even want to mix a handful in your cocks’ feed during the first week of the keep. Make sure all your feed is both fresh and clean. Musty and dusty feed will throw your cocks off completely, if necessary, wash the feed before mixing it.

Your regular keep feed should include the following:

  • Oat groats (not whole oats, they will often constipate cocks).
  • Corn (hard flint corn is best).
  • Racing pigeon feed (the mixed feed, not Pigeon chow).
  • Laying pellets (at least 20% protein, but 30% is better).
  • Chopped boiled eggs (about one-third per cock).
  • Buttermilk (unsalted is the best).
  • Cottage cheese (unsalted if you can get it).

To mix your feed, use a large bowl, shallow enough to stir the ingredients. Put in two parts pigeon feed, one part corn, one part oat groats and one part lay pellets. Mix well and add the correct amount of chopped hard-boiled eggs. Never feed raw eggs, the whites coat the intestinal tract and hamper digestive absorption. When this is thoroughly stirred, add enough buttermilk or cottage cheese to moisten the entire feed. Alternate between cottage cheese and buttermilk for moisture. Both are beneficial because they are high in protein and provide needed bacteria for digestion. Mix no more than one day’s feed at a time and store in a refrigerator so that it will remain fresh. This is the feed you will use up until the last two days of the keep. For the last two days, you will use scratch grain (chopped corn and wheat), lightly moistened with water. Each feed, morning and evening, will consist of approximately 1 1/2 ounces of the mixture, except where noted. Remember treat all cocks as individuals. No two are alike. I can’t emphasize this fact enough. This is especially true when it comes to the amounts of feed. The 11/2 ounces is merely a guide cocks should be weighed each morning and evening and feed adjusted accordingly. Weight control is something you must pay close attention to, and it is something you must learn by trial and error. It simply can’t be taught. The best advice I can give you is this. Hold a cock in your hands and feel back toward the vent, between the end of the breastbone and the pelvic bones. The flesh there should be thin and firm. It should not bulge; if it does, the cock is fat. Don’t hesitate to skip a feed or two if the cock doesn’t show a good appetite and willingness to clean his feed cup. Don’t be surprised if the cocks drop an ounce or so during the first few days of the keep. This is natural they should rebound soon and be trying to peck the bottoms out of their feed cups.

After the feed is measured into the cups, I sprinkle a little vitamin supplement over the feed mixture. You can use any number of products for this Vitapol and Headstart are two products I have used with good success. Both are available from the gamefowl journals or most good feed stores. This supplement should be used up until the last two days.

The Work

As I have stated before, there is no substitute for good, hard work in a training program. Handwork for the cocks will consist of “flys” to the board. Your work board should be approximately waist-high, lightly padded and out of view of the other cocks to keep them from being excited. To train a cock to the board, stand a couple of feet from the bench and lightly toss him to it. Rub him and repeat the process. Soon he will get the idea and will willingly fly to the board, even straining against your hands, from as far away as 8 feet. About six feet is the ideal distance to have the cock fly to the board. Just hold him under the wings, back up, and let him go. This is the work I refer to as “flys”.

After cocks are hand-worked and fed each morning, place in fly pens with clean litter. Make sure fresh water is always available to the cocks while they are in the flypens. In the evenings, bring the cocks into the cockhouse, work them, and then place them in their keep stalls. It is a good idea to always allow the cocks ten minutes or so to cool off before feeding. Allow cocks ample time to drink after feeding-up until the last day.

Work and Feed Schedule

Day Actions
Day 1 – (Sunday) Morning: Spar cocks when empty, put in keep stalls. Evening: Worm and delouse. No feed today.
Day 2 – (Monday) Morning: 10 Flys Evening: 10 Flys
Day 3 – (Tuesday) Morning: 20 Flys Evening: 20 Flys
Day 4 – (Wednesday) Morning: 30 Flys Evening: 30 Flys
Day 5 – (Thursday) Morning: 40 Flys Evening: 40 Flys
Day 6 – (Friday) Morning: 50 Flys Evening: 50 Flys
Day 7 – (Saturday) Morning: 60 Flys Evening: 60 Flys
Day 8 – (Sunday) No work today. No morning feed. Spar about 10:00 a.m., then place in fly pens. No work in the evening. Regular feed. If you are using the drugs, give ¼ cc of testosterone and ¼ cc of B-12.
Day 9 – (Monday) Morning: 50 Flys Evening: 50 Flys
Day 10 – (Tuesday) Morning: 60 Flys Evening: 60 Flys
Day 11 – (Wednesday) Morning: 50 Flys Evening: 50 Flys
Day 12 – (Thursday) Thursday Morning: No work. Feed scratch grain, moistened with water for next two days. Place in fly pens. Evening: No work. Same feed as morning.
Day 13 – (Friday) Morning: No work. Take cocks out of keep stalls, handle and rub, then return and feed. Darken stalls. Evening: If cocks are to be fought Saturday feed three-quarters of the regular amount. If fight is Saturday night, feed a full feed. Give ¼ cc of B-12 and ½ cc of testosterone.
Day 14 – (Fight Day) Morning: If fight is during the day, no feed. If the fight is at night, feed three-quarters of the regular amount.

During the last two days of the keep, you must begin to regulate moisture intake to insure the proper pointing process. Watch the droppings carefully they should be moist but firm, not dry.

D-Day at the Pit

Your first chore upon arriving at the pit is to secure a cockhouse, preferably one that can be darkened completely. Clean out all stalls you intend to use and replace the old litter with fresh. After this is done, one by one put your cocks out in small (approximately 21 x 21) wire pens to stretch and empty out after their trip. Make sure the ground is swept clean under the pens. If the pit weighs in derby entries, take each cock and weigh him in before putting him in the cockhouse. To avoid searching, it is a good idea to write down the leg band number and/or weight on the door of each stall as the cock is placed in it. Completely darken the cockhouse, and avoid disturbing the cocks until it is time to heel.

If the pit allows you to weigh and record your own weights, you can gamble some. Obviously, you want your cocks to meet the smallest (lightest) cocks possible so you can “under-weigh” your cocks as much as you dare. I have known cockers that would weigh their cocks in two ounces light, hoping they would lose that much between then and fight time. (I have also seen cockers have to cut every feather except wings and tail off the cock to meet weights, too). So, to be safe, record your cocks at least one-half ounce light on your sheet because the cocks will lose at least that much.

The End

The most important thing you can learn when you are conditioning cocks is that each show represents a new set of difficulties, a different series of problems. Be flexible, use your common and “chicken” sense. But remember, above all, you must have good cocks to win. There is no substitute for quality fowl or for quality care. To be in the winner’s circle, you must have both. If problems arise, you can email me and I will do my best to answer your questions.

-Don Blansett


The Old VS New When Feeding Gamefowl For Battle.

By Fred Allen (1969)

I would like to say a few words regarding the old and the method of caring for and feeding cocks for battle. Sure, we had some good walks where there wee small farms, but in the western part of our country we had very few walks. Some farm walked cocks were not getting what they really needed to keep them in good health and clean of insects. Some cockers think that a farm walked cock has a big edge over a pen walked cock. Different opinions on any one thing or project makes for better advancements, and this pertains to everything.

If a cock or stag is properly cared for in a pen (I said properly) and has proper condition, he is hard to beat. At any rate, walks are few and far between in these parts. All in all, Texas is a hell of a place to try to keep our sport and hobby alive. We have to go out of the state to fight our cocks. But I am getting off the subject of using old and new methods with game fowl.

Some few cockers are staying close to the old way of doing things. Of course, we in the middle and southwestern states have a chance to obtain some of the best of scratch material to put in the cock pens so they will work in their pens and become stout and fast in a certain number of days, with the right kind of feed – put them in the cockhouse and work them for one to two weeks – run and fly them 50 or 100 times (the old and new method combined).

I remember back in the early twenties, mostly around Bakersfield, California, we had no scratch of any kind ot put in our pens as there was no grain or corn grown. There was plenty of alfalfa but we wouldn’t use it for fear they might eat it, so we fought out of dirt pens. Of course we had to give our cocks what exercise we thought they needed, and there is where the different ideas showed up. For my part, I tried to have my cocks near their right weight in pens during fighting season. We used what the feed store had to sell. We had hack fights every two weeks and moved from pasture to pasture to avoid interference. Some of the cockers came from Taft and the oil fields in the area. All were perfect gentlemen who came to fight cocks – no drinking and no rough stuff. As I remember, most of the gaffs were no more than two inches long. Of course, there were different breeds of cocks but not as high breed cocks as used at the present time. I fought the old time Sledge & Hanna Travelers, rough old roosters.

Some of those who attended the meets were Mick Bowers, Dave Hence, Bill Vizzard, McGraw, Everet Snead, Juan Quaid, J.R. Williams, Pate (can’t recall his last name), but he was a good scout and a great sport. There were also a blacksmith, a good man and a great cocker. Those were happy years I spent with these gentlemen. I understand that about all of them have pased on. May the Lord take their Souls, they deserve the best!

I am pretty sure that the cockers who uses the latest methods of feeding cocks are winning a large majority of their fights.

I am going to mention a couple of incidents that happened. Once upon a time, a good honest man had a top string of cocks. He matched and fought six mains against the very top cockers of the west and he won four of these mains hands-down. Then along came two would-be expert feeders and wanted to feed half of the show for the other two. They used the old T-Model methods so you probably know what happened! The mains were fought for good amounts. No offense intended, but it just goes to prove that you had better have top roosters and the right care and good type of feed and “know-how” to feed it.

I would like to see all modern pits adopt the house rules that are given in the Code Of Honor. I have obe of these books sent to me by the late Walter Kelso in 1955, along with a very nice letter. I think Walter Kelso was a man “to ride the river with” – he and his fowl will never be forgotten.



 by Phil Marsh

As you know game chickens have been a life-time hobby for me. I think I have had some of the world’s best and at times a few of them were just opposite, as you probably know. I realize that my ideas on game fowl, their care and condition, are not always in accord with those of many of my friends and acquaintances. I can only say I have tried most everything and the ones I now use have proved to be far and away the best for me and the fowl I use. I also realize there are a lot of less rugged fowl than my own for which my methods of both coop walking and conditioning would be worthless and perhaps do more harm than good. I have tried my methods on outside fowl and on some of them it was of no use whatever, on others it worked as well as on my own. Rather than change my methods I refuse to condition fowl I know are not able to stand up and do well under them.

Here are a few of my ideas on fowl. Wallop and the ability to carry that wallop when hurt and distressed, is bred in them. Neither I nor anyone I know can put it in them by conditioning. Nor can I make them any stronger by methods of feeding. As a matter of fact while, actually conditioning cocks I can’t even remove excess fat and have them strong at the conclusion of the feed. I do all that before hand by scratching in straw. And I can’t do it in a week or so without weakening them. I prefer to get them down to fighting weight BEFORE they ever go into the conditioning coop, by scratching them out in straw over a period of at least six weeks. Others can do it in a week, so they say. My cocks and stags in coops are kept practically at fighting weight by controlling the feed, at all times, and they fight at two or three ounces less than the weight I pick them up from the coops. The cleaing out, feathers, etc., that are removed will account the two or three ounces.

You want my ideas on the best fowl I have ever seen. I can give them to you in a few words. The greatest fowl I have ever known were the Berg Blue Muffs. To my mind they had everything a game fowl needs and some to spare. I am sure a big share of the goodness in Ed Pines fowl came through breeding a spangle cock that Dave Berg game him several years ago. Next to them I liked my own Butcher Boys best. They were nothing more or less than the old Lawman Whitehackle blood. Mine were rather small and delicate and would go toether in hand like an accordian, but for their size had a terrible wallop, were free hitters, knew how to fight and had gameness to spare. Very similar to the Clarets in looks. In fact, the Clarets for years contained more Butcher Boy blood than any other. John Madigin admitted that and I know I let him have two cocks. As you know they did a lot of winning for me for a good many years, mostly at Tom Foley’s Pit at Troy.

My coop walks are stationary and consist of a house and a run of medium size. There are partitions between the runs so the cocks cannot see each other. Some claim permitting the cocks to see each other makes no difference to them. It makes a difference to me and I don’t want mine able to do it. This practice in my opinion is responsible for a lot of cocks in the pit that refuse to work on a down cock, but I won’t argue the point. I hvae grit and oyster shell before them at all times. I feed them but once each day at noon. Of course, fresh water is kept before them at all times except that here where we have lots of snow on the ground in winter I never water them. As long as there is snow in the runs they get no water. Some will argue against the practice but I have used it for years and it suited my needs. My feed consists of a mixture of 2-3 good cleaned cracked corn and 1-3 good sound whole oats. I feed a heaping tablespoon once each day. I go over the cocks at night every ten days or so and find some need a trifle more feed and believe it or not I now and then find one putting on too much weight with the amount of feed. In that case I increase or decrease as indicated. About twice each week I give each cock a quarter of an apple, and once each week, in the summer each ten days, a piece of good raw ground beef, free from fat and about the size of a walnut. I never vary this coop walk feed. If cock’s don’t do well on it they aren’t the kind of chickens I want. Of course, both the cocks and their quarters are kept free of lice at all times. In the summer and fall and in the winter when snow permits, I feed on the bare ground. Stags should be wormed when cooped every six months thereafter. In the winter time, I have a light litter in the coop part and throw a little feed in that to make them scratch a little for exercise. However, my methods do not call for scatching in deep straw for grain. If that sort of exercise is desired more feed would have to be given and of course that would upset my system. I have swings in the runs where cocks get some exercise. The amount of feed I give has been carefully calculated so as to keep the cocks fully nourished, and still keep them from accumulating any fat. A dust bath should be available for the cocks winter and summer. My coops and runs are so constructed that the cocks can go under the coop and dust themselves at any time.

My conditioning method itself I am sure will be found too severe for many strains of fowl, and in that case I can only suggest to those who will use it to make adjustments to suit their own fowl. I always have plenty of cocks in my runs. When a fifteen cock main is made I usually bring in about 50 cocks and give them a good long spar, anywhere from 5 to 10 ten minutes. From the 50 I select 30 to feed. I don’t believe in physics of any kind at any time, not even the customary bread and milk. After the cocks are selected for the main they go in the conditioning coop. Mine are a trifle over 2×2 and that’s all I use, no scratch coops at all. Instead of physic they get nothing to eat for 48 hours and very little water – none the last 12 hours. Their weight is then recorded and I start from there. Remember none of these cocks have any fat in them, none are off in any way whatever. I like their heads a dull red with the little beads showing on them very plainly. No smooth bright shiney heads. I feed cocks 14 days including the two day fast. Stags 11 days including the two day fast. In other words cocks are actually conditioned 12 days and stags 9.

My feeding during the keep consists of 2-3 good clean cracked flint corn, 1-3 pinhead oats, that is hulled oats that have been broken up. A level tablespoon of this grain mixture plus 1-3 the white of a hard boiled egg to each cock morning and night. Use this from to the last day of the keep. Mix well and never use any mixture for more than one feeding. Always mix it fresh. With the egg added there will be more than a tablespoon to a cock. Every other day four pieces of cracked marble grit, large size. Work the cocks at seven in the morning and seven at night. After each cock has been worked, wash his head with a sponge dipped in good whiskey. Wash his feet and legs in luke warm water and be sure and dry thoroughly both his head, feet and legs. Wash cocks in morning only. The coops should be scrupously clean at all times. Change of straw every other day. Put no disinfectant in the coop but sprinkle Idicao crystals on the floor of the feeding room. The cocks should be empty completely between feeds. If for any reason any of them do not, or don’t seem to be standing the work – throw them out quickly. If they can’t take the work and feed there is no chance of them being able to go the route in the pit.

Have a long work bench, well padded but not springy. Have the padding smooth as the bench will be used for running and you want it so a cock can really run on it, and fast. Use another well padded and somewhat springy place for flying. I cannot place too much emphasis on the fact that a cock should at all times be worked fast, just as fast as it’s possible to make him go, they fight fast and should be worked fast. To do it properly requires considerable practice. Place the cock about three feet to your right and facing left with your hand behind him. Run him three feet to your left, turn him and take him with your left hand and run him to the right. Take it easy for a few runs until he gets onto it and then throw into high. Over and back is ONE, not two. Start off the first day with 25 runs and 25 flies, increase it ten each day to 95. Keep him on 95 two days which is the eighth and ninth days. Drop to 50 on the 10th and 25 on the 11th and none on the 12th at all. Always run your cocks before you fly them. It helps to keep them from getting ugly as they don’t have an opportunity to strike while running and when finished they are somewhat tired and not so apt to fight you when flirted.

Properly flirting or flying a cock is an art if it is to be done without stiffening him up. Stand at the bench with the cock in front of you facing left. With your left hand on his breast toss him back about a foot. Catch him quickly with your right hand under his tail and toss him forward, then with your left hand and toss him back, etc. When properly done, the cock has the appearance of running in one short space. It takes preactice to learn to do it but once acquired the cock can be worked very fast as he should be.

Fifteen minutes after all have been worked, feed them each a rounded tablespoon of the grain and egg white mixture. Watch their weights every morning and put it down on a chart. Some may need a trifle more feed than others but seldom more than a half tablespoonful. Try to keep them at the weight they were when put up, and fight them two or three ounces less. Every cocker has his own ideas about the amount of water to be given and I realize it requires varying amounts in various part of the country, depending on climate, etc. Regardless of the amount, you give them, never leave the cups on the coops. Let each have what water he wants and when he starts to play, take the cup away. If any of them want a lot of water it is an indication they have fever and should be thrown out. If they are coming right they will want little if any water the last two or three days. It’s an unfailing sign. Wait five minutes after all have eaten before watering.


Stags in coop walks will require more feed than cocks, perhaps half again as much grain. Give each what he will quickly clean up as long as he doesn’t put on fat. Should a cock or stag in a coop go off a little from no apparent cause, put a hen or two in with him for a few days. If that doesn’t help, kill him. You can’t do anything with sick chickens. Give stags about 2/3 as much work in the keep as cocks. If cocks’ head are to be trimmed close, do it when they are first put up. I never use any stimulants or conditioning powder of any kind. If cocks or stags should open their mouths before they have received their full amount of work – stop for a moment before giving them the rest of it. If at any time during the feed a cock goes off in any way, doesn’t throw his feed, etc. – throw him out and take in a fresh cock from the runs even four or five days before time to fight. If cared for under my system of coop walking he won’t be fat and will be far better than one that is off in any way. During the conditioning period go in the coops often and keep them moving around instead of sitting on their tails. If they are hungry as they should be, they will start moving when you go in the room. Spar cocks twice during the feed. I would suggest to anyone intending to use my methods, and who has been feeding his cocks in pens two or three times the amount I do, that he get them to the reduced feed gradually. Increase the oat content of the feed and give the same amount of feed as he is used to giving. Then gradually cut down the oats until the cocks are getting approximately the amount I give. If they stay too thin on it give them a little more but don’t over do it.

It requires judgement which comes with experience, to tell when a cock is at fighting weight, where I try to keep them in the coop walks. A great many cocks anf families of cocks will go under hack if kept near fighitng weight. I have no suggestions in that case as neither I nor any feeder can get them in real first class condition. Some feeders seem to do quite well with short bred cocks by fighting them over weight and pampering them, but I never kearned how, and never wanted to.

In mxing the conditioning feed use a level tablespoon of grain for each cock. Put this in a tin, then add the white of one hard boiled egg for each three cocks. When feeding, this will make a rounded tablespoon of the grain and egg mixture for each cock, twice daily.




In feeding a main of 15 cocks you should pick up 20 – 24 cocks.

One -half an egg for each cock would be enough for the scalded oats, mixing in the egg after the oats have become cool. if mixed before they cool the egg will curdle. as to the castor oil, you put a teaspoon in the mashed when you are boiling it, that is for a main of cocks to feed a day. for one cock use in proportion, prepare only enough mast at a time to feed one day as it will sour. when you have the cocks you wish to fight brought in examine them carefully to see that there are no defects in them. grease them under the wings and vent or use insect powder to rid of lice cut feathers from around vent and saw spurs off to about 5/8 inch. using soap on saw to prevent bleeding,


now put the bird in his coop which should be at least 20 inches high and 24 inches square, with a hole cut in the door to hang his feed cup on. also have a slide door to come down over the hole so that cocks cannot see each other. only at feeding time, as when they have their heads out all the time it makes them nervous and wears the edge off them, now leave them for 14 hours ands they will be empty. weigh and mark weights on coop and give them each a teaspoon of lard. tie muffs and let them have a good set -to sparring them by pairs as near weights as possible. examine their mouths carefully to see they have not been hurt it is apt to cankers. this concludes first day of keep so put back in coops and leave until next morning.

2nd day

at 8:00 am give all cocks feed of warm bread and milk. for evening feed scalded oats and raw eggs with shells. wash cocks.

3rd day

make mash composed of corn and oat meal, equal parts, with a teaspoon of castor oil. at night feed scalded oats with raw eggs.

4th day

same as third day wash and weigh

5th day

same as 4th day weigh and mark

6th day

same as 5th day wash and weigh

7th day

same as 6th day

8th day

morning feed pearl barley scalded and air dried evening new England hominy the harder and older the better. wash and weigh

9th day

same as 8th a little chopped apple at noon.

10th day

same as 9 th day feed a little raw beef at noon. wash

11th day

same as 10th day only give chopped apple at noon not beef.

12th day

morning feed hard boiled eggs cracked corn and boiled lean beef chopped fine, all mixed together, night feed hominy, wash and weigh

13th day

same as 12th

14 th day

day before fight in morning same as 13th day at night a little white of hard boiled egg and crack corn.


in taking cocks out of him coop handle him carefully and if he is inclined to be ugly have a pair of gloves to slip on. place him on a pad and give him a few minutes to look around before you start working him. now put your left hand under his breast and your right hand on his back. toss him up about 18 inches with your left at the same time drawing your right hand down his back, in the way he will work both legs and wings cock should be held sideways to you, start giving him 10 toss on the second day. after tossing him hand rub him this will make his flesh hard. also give him the same number of runs on a running board. 8 ft long well padded. increase up to the 12th day. anywhere from 80 to 120 on the 12th day. let cock rest on the 13th and 14th days. be carful not to over work your cocks. if you see one is going down on his knee joints stop him then. feel each birds legs and if one has fever he will show it in his legs being hot. in case of fever cut out the scalded oats and feed lean beef. and cracked corn. give 5 or 6 dips of water after each feed. don`t feed until cocks have cooled off after working out. put a large pinch of bone meal in his feed and keep clean gravel and oyster shell where he can get to it. except last 3 days. about 1/2 the amount of feed you feed a cock on his run will be right for the feeding room. but you must use your own judgment and not feed any more than they will throw off between feedings. if you have a cock that will not throw off between feedings. give him a piece of salt pork about the size of your thumb. if a cock acts feverish and wants more water than is reasonable give him four or five dips of orange juice. Sparr them with muffs on the 11th or 12th day. to see how they stand the work. keep them covered the last two days and put a hen with each cock from the 4th-11th day work at 8:00 am and 8:00 PM. for nigh fights light in the building for 3 hours. change there litter every 2 or 3 days.


Col. John Madigin`s

Conditioning Method

The Madigin’s cocks were always farm walked. when brought in for a main, derby or tournament, they where placed in a scratch pens and brought down to approximate weight by feeding up or down accordingly, by approximate fighting weight is meant within about three or four ounces which they would lose after drying out, etc. as an illustration a cocks comes in from a walk weighing 5.10 . It is decided he should fight at about 5.02. Scratch him down to about 5.05 and he will lose another three or four ounces after drying out and being trimmed out.

The cock house was a large room over a double garage there were windows and shades on each side to let in air and the shade to darken the room when the cocks were not being worked or fed, so they could rest. There was a small room about 4×6 in front of the windows on the east side of the building. The bottoms of the windows were about 3 1/2 feet from the floor. Against the wall, in front of and even with the bottom of the windows was a padded board about 18 inches wide and three feet long. On the floor in front of the padded board was another pad. There were always hens running on his yard and they could be seen front the board in front of the windows. After the cocks had been handled for the day so they would be tame.

Each would be placed on this board so he could see the hens on the yard. Then he was taken off and dropped the pad on the floor. Anxious to keep the hens in sight he would immediately fly back up to the board. The colonel called this “jumping the cocks”. They where jumped each day at 11:00a.m..Ten times,…fast. He said this helped to empty them out and it did. Everything was done on a schedule. Work started at 4:00a.m. Sharp. They were fed at 7:00a.m. Jumped at 11:00a.m. Worked again at 4:00 p.m. and fed at 7:00 p.m.. They were given 6 dips or water after each feed, morning, and night. They were conditioned 14 days and fought on the 15th day, in between workouts and feed the cocks where darkened.

The grain fed during the entire keep was made up as follows: 3/4 of the total was composed as equal parts of crack corn { chops} whole oats with the hulls on, 1/8 barley,1/8 wheat. An illustration: suppose you were feeding a dozen cocks.  Mix up two gallons of grain before the keep began. there are eight quarts in two gallons so mix up three quarts of corn three quarts of oats, I quart wheat and one quart barley. Each cock got 1/4 of the white of a hard-boiled egg and half head of lettuce was fed to all cocks at each feeding. This is they way it was done. Say there where 12 cocks the white’s of three hard-boiled eggs would be placed in a bowl with half a head of lettuce these where chopped up very fine with a food chopper. Now estimate the amount of grain the 12 cocks require then put in all the egg and lettuce you have chopped up and thoroughly mix up. Now take an ordinary tablespoon and get a heaping tablespoonful of your feed shake it until it’s nicely rounded and you have the amount each cock is to be fed twice day during the 14-day keep.

FIRST DAY: At 4:00 a.m., give each cock 15 runs and 15 flies, fast. Rest for one minute, rub for two minutes, and repeat the work 15 runs 15 flies do the same everyday. That is where the keep calls for 35 runs and 35 flies after they rest and rub repeat. For a total of 70 runs and 70 flies when the keep calls for 45 runs and 45 flys rest rub and repeat. For a total of 90 flys and 90 runs. Also, in running the cocks over and back is counted one and the flys and runs are always fast. At 7:oo a.m. feed, then give each cock exactly six dips or water. Darken cock house. at 11:00 a.m., jump 10 times fast. after jumping put each cock in a scratch pen for 10 minutes. with about 6 grains of feed. darken cock house untill 4:00 p.m. same work as in a.m., same feed and water 7:00 a.m.. close up for the night.

SECOND DAY: exactly the same work, feed jumps and scratch, etc, as first day

THIRD DAY: exactly the same except increase work to 25 runs and 25 flys morning and night.

FOURTH DAY: exactly same as third day.

FIFTH DAY: increase work to 35 runs and flys. At noon feed each cock one once of lean ground beef, raw and rolled in corn meal. feed morning and night as usual.

SIXTH DAY: same work and feed as fifth day except no meet at noon.

SEVENTH DAY: increase work to 45 runs and flys. Wash feet and heads dry then trim them out the way they will fight. feed.jump, scratch, etc., same usual

EIGHTH DAY: same feed, work, jumps, scratch, etc as seventh day except at noon give each cock one once of boiled ground beef.

NINTH DAY: same as 8th day. No meat at noon. 10:00 a.m. put outside runs for 1/2 hour so they can take dust bath.

TENTH DAY: same feed, water, jumps etc. decrease flys and runs to 35.

ELEVENTH DAY: same feed, jumps, etc. decrease runs and flys to 25.

TWELFTH DAY: cut runs and flys to 15 scratch each cock for 5 minutes morning and afternoon.

THIRTEENTH DAY: no work. Scratch each cock five to ten minutes morning and afternoon.

FOURTEENTH DAY: same as thirteenth day.

DAY OF FIGHT: no feed or water unless the cocks are to fight in afternoon or at night. Then they are given a few grains {1/4 teaspoon} of damp chops on the morning. No water. The last two days {13th and 14th}, the cocks should want little water. If they have come on, as they should a desire for much water at this time indicates they have fever and should not be fought.


6 Week Postiza Keep

Submitted by Jim Fulton

As everyone should know by now , you cannot make a rooster a better fighter, but in the competition for the naked heel , postiza , and quarto, stamina and endurance play a big role, and this keep is designed for that goal. This keep takes 6 weeks total, and includes a 1 week rest for the last week before the fight. As an example I will give the dates to work, according to an upcoming fight in May. The things you will need for this keep are : 2 pairs of muffs, some thin medical tape (the cloth kind), a spray bottle( with water and about 2 tsp. of alcohol) for misting their feathers, some Vaseline, as good a grain mix as you can afford, and fresh water everyday.

You will be working your birds every 3rd day, with a “hard” workout every 6th day, and you will be working with 2 birds at a time. This WILL build stamina in your roosters, AND yourself. I will give a detailed description of the terms Run, Flirts, and Trim out, after the dates and routines. Before each ” hard ” workout you will need to put on their muffs, mist their feathers (misting keeps their feathers from breaking as easy), and tearing off a piece off the medical tape about 1/4 in. wide and about 5 in. long, you will need to tape their bills. Open their beak and put your finger crossways to hold it open. Next lay one end of the tape on the inside tip of the lower bill, and wrap a small end of it under the bill to hold it then make 3 full wraps , and then close the top part of the bill on the tape and finish wrapping the whole bill. The reasons for doing this are to keep them from pulling out feathers when they spar , and it discourages them from getting a bill hold. They will be able to breath fine and about half way through, they will work it off anyway.

4/7 Sat. ~ 5 min. run ~ 40 flirts
4/10 Tue. ~ 40 flirts
4/13 Fri. ~ 10 min. run ~ 50 flirts
4/16 Mon. ~ 60 flirts
4/19 Thu. ~ 12-15 min. run ~ 60 flirts
4/22 Sun. ~ 70 flirts
4/25 Wed. ~ 15 min. run ~ 80 flirts
4/28 Sat. ~ 100 flirts ” Trim out ”
5/1 Tue. ~ 15 min. run ~ 100 flirts
5/4 Fri. ~ 100 flirts
5/7 Mon. ~ 20 min. run ~ 100 flirts
5/10 Thu. ~ 100 flirts
5/13 Sun. ~ 5-10 min. run ~ 100 flirts
Rest For One Week
5/19 Sat. ~ Fight Day !

After each workout Rub downward on his breast and then each leg, about 15 times. Put some Vaseline on their legs and a little on their heads and beaks. look for any “bad” spots

Run :

A run starts with allowing the 2 roosters to spar for about a min., then pick up one of the birds and ” lead ” the other with him. With a rooster in your hands and bending over low enough to keep the one on the ground eye level with the one in your hands, and lead him to the right, and then pass over him and move to the left, and back again for a min. then release or toss the bird a few feet away, let them “buckle” and then pick up the other bird and do the same with him for a min. Let them spar again for a min. then do it all over again. As the routines get longer (second “hard” workout) a move that you will need to work in is, passing the bird in your hands behind the one on the ground and make him turn round and round keeping his eyes on the other bird. Go round and round to the right , to make your bird spin to the right , and then go left. Do this for about 15 sec. each direction then run some more. By the time your up to a 15 min. run , you will be letting them actually spar for 2 to 3 min. between runs.

Flirts :

Flirts are similar to most except as you hold the bird with both hands, facing away from you, place your thumbs on his back, by his tail, and holding him 2-3 foot off the floor, push your thumbs down and “flick” him out of your hands. This will cause him to kick his legs forward and flap aggressively to regain his balance . Pick him up quickly and do it again. The second kind of flirt is opposite. Holding his breast in one hand , and placing your other hand under his tail or vent, move your hand up quickly from his vent(flick) and releasing his breast at the same time, causing him the sensation of falling forward, and making him “work” to regain balance. Do a equal amount of both ( example. 40 Flirts – 20 forward flirts + 20 reverse flirts)

Trim Out :

If you have seen Cuban or Spanish birds fight before , you might have noticed that it looks like their legs and backs are shaved. This is to aid in cooling, and the feathers are actually cut off with scissors, from the legs, abdomen and vent, lower part of the breast, and the back area up to the hackles. The hackles are sometimes trimmed also

Feeding :

Feed all they can eat at a time. On work days , don’t feed at all until after the work . Twice a week put some boiled egg into their regular feed. The last feeding on Friday before the fight, mix the feed with some honey and cut in half with “Grape Nuts” or Granola. On fight day, take a banana with you and after the fight, clean him up real good , and take him were he can eat and just let him have some banana( if he’s not beat up too bad).

Rest :

Rest is just as important as the workout ( for you and your roosters). Avoid the temptation to work or play with them on the rest week . If you have a hen with them ?, remove it a few days before the fight.( To make them a little more anxious ).

Well this is the keep I use, and It has served me well. You cannot go wrong if you follow it , and you will notice a marked improvement in you birds on fight day.




by T.K. Bruner

Conditioning spells veictory or defeat for your cocks, as it is the deciding factor, all other conditions being equal.

McCall said some years ago condition was 60% of a battle, taking this to cover the care a cock has received from the time he was hatched until he is put into the pit. I believe condition is at least 70% of the battle.

To win mains in the fastest company, one must have a bunch of cocks that have neen properly raised and properly walked until brought in to be conditioned. No conditioner, no matter how good he is, can take a lot of poorly raised, badly walked cocks and expect to whip a main of strong, well walked cocks in the hands of even a poor feeder, because a cock to win must have strength, vitality, and stamina in addition to action, cutting ability and gameness. It is very foolish for any one to think that if 15 days a feeder can put strength enough in a poor walked cock to lick a cock who was produced under ideal condition. No one can do the impossible. You may take a weak cock and win over a strong cock in one hack fight, but in a main luck and chance are practically eliminated leaving condition and consistent form to be decided the winner.

You have often heard it said, “John Doe was mighty lucky to win that main from “Bill Smith” but in most cases if you will go back over the main fight by fight and analyze it, you will find the winner had the best cocks in the best condition.

Before closing for a main, it was my plicy to first know I had a sufficient number of cocks on walks to fight a main. By this I mean for a 17-cock show I want about 35 cocks of strains I am acquainted with and among them I want 8 or 10 that have proven their fighting ability in the pit. I use these proven ones as a guide in selecting my show. I may not use more than half of these previous winners in the main but they give you winning cocks as a basis of comparison in selecting the cocks whose ability is unknown. A cock is only good or bad by comparisson, an average cock muffed with a dub looks like a “worltd beater”, but on the other hand if he is sparred with a good cock, he will be seen in his true light.

The exact number of cocks required to make a 17 cock show depends on how well you know the strain or strains of cocks you intend to use and the shape in which they will come from their walks. In the fall of 1907, the late John T. Fogleman, of Burlington, NC, closed with Andrew P. O’Connor, of Norfolk, VA, for a 17-cock main to be fought in Norfolk. He used cocks entirely of his own breeding and picked them up from their walks himself. He wrote me he picked up 21 cocks – thikn of it – twenty-one cocks from which he must show 17; just four extra cocks, yet he won eight out of the first nine fights, and the main, as fifteen pair fell in. The nine cocks fought were full brothers of his Yellow Leg Mugwumps. This is the least number of cocks I know of having been picked up to fight a 17-cock main. The answer is the old man knew his cocks and what he could do with them. He was one of the best feeders I ever knew and taught me many things about conditioning that I still remember and know now how valuable the advice he gave me was. He once told his son, Mike, and myself he would fight us a main and never put his hand on a cock to wrk him during the keep if one of us would change the straw under the cocks daily. At the time he was after us for working our cocks too much and meant to show us the feed cup was more powerful than the working of cocks as we were doing. On the other hand, I have seen a prominent Memphis cocker and conditioner have up from 70 to 80 cocks from which to select a 17-cock main. Of course most of these cocks were picked up by other parties who did not know what would suit him. He has often remarked to me that if he got one cock out of five sent in that was a main cock he was satisfied. This is entirely too many cocks and I will say if a man knows the fowl he is to consition, he should not need over 30 cocks to make a perfect show. It is very essential for a feeder in the South to be familiar with the strain or strains of fowl he is going to fight, because some strains of Southern fowl must be fought high in flesh to do their best while others do best in light flesh with all fat off. I prefer cocks of the latter type best as I am surer as to their condition and how they will perform in the pit. As a rule such cocks are gamer and show more stamina when badly injured than their fellow cocks in high flesh.

If possible, I like to get cocks in for a main a week in advance of when I want to start the keep. This gives me a chance to saw their spurs, rid them of lice and tame them up in advance as well as the opportunity to look them over carefully and bring all nearer the same state of flesh some cocks come in from walks fat and other thin. I had pens about 6×10 feet that I kept them in during this period. After getting your cocks into cock house the sooner you get them familiar with what is expected of them the better chance you have, of conditioning them properly. A cock must work right, eat right, and pass his food right to be in shape on day of battle. A cock that fails to pass his feed or fails to eat his feed for two or three days during the latter part of the Keep will not be in such condition that he will fight strong and strike hard all the way in a long battle but will fight or burn himself out and be at the mercy of a well conditioned opponent even though he is game and doing all he can. A cock must have his full strength or he is unfit to be fought in a main.

I always muff or spar my cocks three times during a Keep, first to find and eliminate the defective ones as well as those without the proper action for a cutting cock, second to learn how a cock of one style, as you don’t know what style of fighting you are going against, third to see how the conditioning affects the different cocks. A god cock will show improvement each time he is sparred, he will move faster and strike harder and more accurately as the Keep progresses, if he is conditioning right. In the first muff, I let them go until pretty well exhausted in order to find their weakness, in the second muff, I let them go good and hard, but not enough to exhaust them as in the first muff. In the third muff I only let them go for a few flys as they are now rounding into shape and are hitting hard enough to bruise and make each other sore which has a tendency to throw them off. Frankly, I do not see how it is possible for any one to intelligently and accurately select a show of cocks without sparring them. To select my show it always has been my policy to request some frined I knew to be a good judge of a fighting cock to help me select them, believing that two heads were better than one. I make up a match list for each muff and mark after each pair is sparred just how they appeared to me and after muffing them all would go over this list with my friend and discuss the merits of each cock to see if we saw them alike.

Some cocks are very uncertain and I prefer to put im my show only cocks that have sparred consistently good all the way. For the past two or three years I have been lucky in having Mr. Lon Hanna, of the old and famous Sledge and Hanna combination, to help me select my shows; he is greatest judge of a fighting, cutting cock I ever saw and after seeing a cock spar almost tell you exactly what they will do in the pit. He is not a youngster any more but none of the boys can see more when two cocks are sparring, and I attribute much of my success to the help he gave me.

It is very hard for me to tell anyone exactly how much work or exercise to give a cock or the exact feed to give him; one can only outline the work anf feeds used under average conditions, then one must use his own judgement to bring about the desired results, as you seldom find a lot of cocks that will respond to the same identical treatment. Therefore, one must vary their routine to suit and bring all cocks into condition or you are apt to find you will be unable to show several of your best fighting cocks because they are not in condition. I have tried with every bunch of cocks I had up to get every one of them in shape if I could, whether I expected to fight them or not. This required many extra hours but I learned a lot that helped me later. I have found one can learn something new every day he spends in the cock house and the more he learns the better off he is. Of course, I do not refer to sicks cocks as there is only one thing to do with them and that is to get them out of your cock house as soon as possible, as you are not running a hospital. In this connection I want to say there is very little excuse for anyone having a house full of sick cocks if he has a dry, well ventilated house, free of moisture, and does not make his cocks sick by the way he works them or feeds them. If your cock house is located on the ground, you should see that the ground under it is high and dry because dampness makes more cocks sick than all other causes put together. I prefer a cock house up off the ground on the second floor of some building or barn, but if it is on the ground, I want the floor of dirt which can be built up higher than the outside level.

For the past several years, I have scratched my cocks indoors entirely except during extremely hot weather, when I moved coops outside under a shed. Cocks should be dropped in scratch coops from 15 to 30 minutes daily. Before putting straw in scratch coops, I put in about one inch of coarse sand and grit as a cock must have all the grit he needs to grind his feed with.

In putting up a main you cannot be too careful inseeing that house and stalls are clean and sanitary in every way. I always had my stalls and feed cups thoroughly disinfected with Creosote Dip between each lot of cocks, and I feel this was one ofthe reasons, I seldom had to throw out a cock for sickness.

One should remember while conditioning cocks that a cock should never be worked until he is exhausted as it will throw him off his feed or make him sick. When a cock does not eat or throw his feed off properly, he is usually overworked or overfed. A cock should be fed all he can and will pass between feeds but no more. Cocks should be fed twice daily as near 12 hours apart if it is entirely empty, if not you should reduce the amount of feed given him. A cock slightly underfed will fight better than one that has been stuffed to verfed. There is only one way to keep up with exactly how your cocks are coming along and that is to weigh them daily and keep a record pf their daily weights. I take off all the surplus fat and flesh during the first week of Keep, reducing them in weight a few ounces below where I think they will fight best, then during the last week of Keep let them gradually rise back up to their natural weight, which they will do easily at the end of Keep as you let up on the work. In this way, you get to fight your cocks coming or gaining instead of going or losing weight.

I give my cocks all the water they want up until the last two days of Keep. If cocks are not starved for water they will only drink what they actually need. It is, of course, necessary to cut down on the water to dry a cock out, but I put this off to the last morning before fight, as I have found that cocks dried out too soon will get sick anf go off. A cock properly drawn will on day of fight be up on his toes, dancing, full of pep and snap. One drawn too fine will appear listless and indifferent and when placed in the pit will hit short and without the snap and force to drive a gaff until he gets limbered up, which, in long heels, is usually too late for him to win. In long heels it is very necessary that cocks go into the pit fighting and hitting with all their strength from the go, otherwise, he has a poor chance of winning. Of course we have plenty of long fights even in long heels and it behooves all of us to have our cocks in such a condition that thye can go the distance and be able to strike a killing blow as long as they are able to strike. However, most long fights in the South are due to one of two things, either two poor cutting cocks meet or two sure cutting cocks meet and so cripple each other that neither is able to go ahead and finish his opponent.

I will now proceed to give the regular routine I have followed in conditioning, I hvae only varied from it to bring around some cock that would not respond to the same treatment as the others.

For lice powder, I use Sodium Flouride, which can be bought at any drug store for about 50c per pound. It is much more effective than any commercial insect powder I have ever used.

I used the following feeds during a keep:

Oats – clean hulled oats, pearl barley, flint corn, coarse cracked and washed.

Peas – Canadian field and vetch.

These are the least fattening and yet the most strengthening grains I have been able to find.

For the regular feed mix I mix in equal parts barley and oats, adding to this twenty-five percent cracked corn, to this I add either vetch or peas as indicated in daily routine below. I measure out the required amount of feed for the number of cocks I have up which is approximateky one tblespoonful per cock. I slightly dampen this and add one-third of the white of a hard boiled egg for each cock. I rub the grain and eggs together until it is thoroughly mixed. In the spring I use boiled pearl barley in the place of eggs. This is prepared by boiling it for about two hours, then washing it through fresh water until all the gum and stickiness is washed out. Then use about one teaspoonful per cock in place of the eggs. Either is used only for the purpose of carrying and holding sufficient moisture in a cock’s craw to enable him properly pass and digest the grain. From time to time during the Keep, as show below, I use the following: raw beef, lean and chopping fine, cooked beef, thoroughly boiled and chopped fine, apples, ripe, juicy, apples chopped fine.

My daily routine was a follows:

First Day

Saw spurs, trim feathers under vent, weigh, and powder for lice. Feed once today giving cocks all they will eat of stale loaf bread soaked in warm milk. Scratch cocks 30 minutes during the day.

Second Day

Feed once today, stale bread soaked in warm milk adding a little corm meal or mush. Scratch cocks 30 minutes. Handle cocks as often as possible and gently at first, to get them tame and used to being handled as quickly as possible.

Thrid Day

Morning weigh, start your work, let them flutter by catching them at knee joint and lifting up, tipping them backwards, run and flirt them. A.M. Feed regular feed of oats, barley and eggs, water after feeding. Scratch 30 minutes. P.M. Same work, feed and water.

Fourth Day

Morning weigh, increase work, flutter, flirt, run and rub them down after work. Feed regular and water. Scratch 30 minutes a day. P.M. Same work, feed and water.

Fifth Day

Morning weigh, work and rub. Regular feed and water. Scratch 30 minutes. Noon, each cock one teaspoonful raw beef. P.M. Same work, feed and water.

Sixth Day

Morning weigh, work and rub, it is understood you are gradually increasing their work as they will take it without being exhausted.. Regular feed and water. Scratch 30 minutes. Noon one teaspoonful chopped apple, P.M. Make up match list and muff all cocks good and hard until almost exhausted, which will allow you to see and eliminate the weaklings and defective ones. P.M. No work, but rub them down. Regular feed and water.

Seventh Day

Morning weigh, work and rub. To regular feed add 10% peas, water. Scratch 30 minutes. Noon teaspoonful cooked lean beef. P.M. Same work, regular feed and water.

Eighth Day

Morning weigh, work and rub. Regular feed and water. Scratch 30 minutes. P.M. Same work and 10% vetch to regular feed and water.

Ninth Day

Morning weigh, work and rub. Regular feed and water. Scratch 30 minutes, P.M. Same work, feed and water.

Tenth Day

Morning weigh, work and rub. Regular feed and water. Scratch. Noon, teaspoonful chopped apple. 3 P.M. Make up match list and muff all cocks. P.M. No work, rub down. Regular feed and water.

Eleventh Day

Morning weigh, work and rub. Add 10% peas to regular feed, water; you are now giving your cocks the greatest amount of work they will receive and from now on you should gradually reduce it. Scratch 30 minutes. Noon, one teaspoonful boiled lean beef. P.M. Same work, regular feed and water.

Twelfth Day

Morning weigh, work and rub. Add 10% vetch to regular feed and water. Noon, one teaspoonful chopped apple. 3 P.M., muff cocks for last time, letting them go only for a few flys and note carefully on match list how each cock sparred. P.M., no work, rub down. Regular feed and water.

Thirteenth Day

Morning weigh,work and rub, and add 10% peas to regular feed and water. Scratch 30 minutes. P.M. Same work, regular feed and water.

Fourteenth Day

Morning weigh, decrease work to about 20 flys and rub. Scratch 15 minutes. Regular feed and water. Noon, one teaspoonful chopped apple. P.M. work just a few flirts and rub. Regular feed and cut water to three sawllows.

Fifteenth Day

Morning weigh, no work but rub them down. Feed dry cracked corn and give them no water. Do not scratch cocks, but shut up cock house and let them rest until evening feed. P.M. Weigh, to see how the drying out and no work has affected the cocks to be right they should have gained about one ounce. Give them a good feed of dampened cracked corn and give each cock three awallows of water if they want it. On this night you should go over match lists and weight lists and pick your show subject to the way cocks feel in the morning.

Sixtheenth Day – Day Of Fight

Go to the cock house early, take each cock and toss him on work bench once or twice to see if he has the snap and pep in him and is empty. Weigh and offer each a swallow or two of water, then place each cock in coop for movement to pit. After arriving at pit and before making your show weigh your cocks again as they are drying out and losing weight all the time now. If you see the main is going to be prolonged until late in the evening the last cocks should be given a few grains of whole corn to keep them from losing too much weight and getting extremely hungry.

In conclusion will say there is to my mind an undeniable difference between victory and defeat. A cock in perfect condition is a bundle of springs all ready for action and goes inot the pit fighting like a wild cat and doing things that seem almost impossible, never seeming to tire or stop until victory or death is in his lot.

I do not believe a condtioner ever lived who could always show his cocks in perfect condition; he may always have them in good condition but not in perfect condition where it is impossible to stop them. There is nothing hard or complicated in conditioning cocks, it only takes practice and experience as in anything else and there is a lot more fun in the game for the fellow who conditions his own birs and knows his cocks are in shape to fight.

Boys, if you see that your cocks aregiven the proper attention from the egg to the pit, they will not disappoint you, but will make you proud to say, “I raised them.”


The Claret PreKeep


There are as many different methods to do this as there are people doing it. This is mine, of course a few minor details (secrets of feed contents, ECT) are left out but I assure you everything I use is all natural. Contrary to popular belief no drugs or steroids are used. No hormones other than those naturally produced by the subject fowl and only the best feed water and care I can provide.

21 months ago I set eggs in hopes of hatching a number of fowl by which to continue the lines I have chosen to keep, a variety based on their performance and my preferences. They hatched, grew, were culled thru, well cared for and have survived mother nature’s wrath under my watchful eye and the protections provided by “Blossom” my gentle giant guardian Great Pyrenees dog.

We started this past weekend by first checking 24 individuals for conformation, health and disposition. 4 were set aside for being too fat, 1 was removed for being an uncontrollable man fighter. He was a well bred rooster but just seemed to hate everything that moved. (He was sent to a farm where he will be allowed to free range with some good hens. ) 3 were set aside for being too thin thus leaving 16 Bullstags to be sparred and checked for mental maturity as well a athletic ability. Each was identified by his own band # and weighed. They were allowed 4 hours rest in a darkened holding pen and were then we matched them by the closest weights without putting brothers against each other, heeled them with soft rubber sparring muffs and pitted them 3 times each while evaluating each bird for skill and desire, aggression and accuracy, speed and power. 7 were selected to begin the “Prekeep”. 7 tie cords ( 6′ long swivel cords with a barrel for housing) were set aside, as well as 7 fly pens ( 4′ X 8′, 8′ tall stall in the barn with fresh tilled soil and straw on the floor) and 7 4′ X 4′ , 4′ tall wire outside pens with a roof in preparations for the keep. (conditioning period).

The 7 band #’s were recorded and weights were confirmed and recorded on the daily log that will be kept on each bird. The 7 roosters were each treated for internal and external parasites, each were given an injection of respiratory specific antibiotics, the first of three and placed in the tight pens (small darkened holding pen) for a rest and cool out period then placed on the tie cords, fed and watered.

Post subject: Day 2

This may get boring from time to time but you should follow each step to understand and appreciate all that we do.

Bring all 7 in from the cords, one at a time. Rub each one down and fly to the table (The table is a padded work out station on which the roosters are given aerobic style work outs). Give a bite out of an orange and the 2nd of 3 injections of tylan 50 (antibiotic). Place in tight pens and cup feed 3 oz of moistened vitamin enriched feed. Allow 1 hour to eat and rest & move to the fly pens and place water cups at roost poles, 6 feet up. Close 2 pullets up in barn for all to see and chase.

Post subject: Day 3

Bring the 7 cocks from the fly pens back into the cock house, one at a time. massage each bird, breast – thigh – back – legs. This helps them to calm down and trust me more so not to work against me. The third of three injections of tylan 50 (antibiotic) is given and each is inspected for signs of health and parasites. Each bird is place in his tight pen and cup fed 3 oz of feed each as before. They are given 1 hour to feed and rest and then are one at a time taken from the tight pens and stroked (firm rubbing on the breast) 3 times b-4 being flirted (flown from a short distance with a flick and upward motion so to tilt him forward and require him to correct upright b-4 landing) to the table, Give a bite of an orange or apple, catch, flirt again, to the climb board ( a horizontal padded board, provides an exercise surface on an incline and causes the rooster to utilize wing and breast muscle more) catch and flirt to the table for a final time. Let him relax catch and return to the cords for the next day.

Burrrrrr its cold. After cording I bonus each cock 10 grains of corn to help with the cold night.

Note. Every cock gets fresh water every day. If their bowl is full I remove it, dump it and refill with fresh, this is a must.

Post subject: Day 4

Bring all 7 in from the cords, rub them down as before and put them in the tight pens. Once all are in, one by one, flirt to the table, give a bite of orange, toss to the climb board, (do not pull on their tail), lightly place your hand on their back and press down gently near the tail and let him walk & pump his wings. You can also lightly pull at their feet for the same result. After a few days they learn to use the board and all you must do is take them down from the top. Flirt to the table again give a raisin or bite of banana, one more flirt, let him stretch, light rub down and back in the tight pen. Feed 3 oz of feed and give 1 hour to eat and cool out.

Now is the time to add weight to any fowl that may not be where you want them. I keep my fowl close to show weight and sometimes add a few ounces during the prekeep and take it down during the keep. You can do this by adding whole corn and cat food to their feed. It is easy to add a few ounces, just be sure its converted to muscle rather than gut fat. Never adjust weight down at this stage, if he is a little over it will work out, if he is a lot over he shouldn’t be here.

By now they should be more calm in your hands and willing to cooperate more. But they will be getting excited about getting to the table for that orange or raisin treat and generally should already be feeling a little harder, more intense and much more familiar to you. You should know each rooster by the way he feels in your hands.

once they have finished the feed and cool out period we move them to the fly pens with fresh water (soon to be ice) and bonus them 10 grains of corn and put the pullets back in the barn.

During the week I adjust the feed a little each day from my daily feed. I add popcorn, barley, and rice to increase the carbs in the feed and shift up to 18 % protein level from 16%. I use Oranges, bananas, apples and raisins throughout the keep as treats, bonuses and enticers so I do not add them to my feed.

Post subject: Day 5

Not much different today. From the flypens, massage then to the table, bite of orange, flirt three times and fly to the climb board, rub a little more and place in tight pens for feed and rest. After 1 hour take to cords and freshen water.

Weather man calls for sleet, snow, and worse tonight. About bed time return to the yard to put all cocks inside their barrels. If you don’t and a good coating of ice lays down, you will find your cocks on the ground in the am but their tails will still be in the ice up on top of the barrel. If your cocks are in good health and are coming along as they should they will have a “raspberry” under their eye. A raspberry is simply the area just below the eye as it becomes full it swells and reddens slightly.

Post subject: Days 6 and 7

As before, bring into the cockhouse, fly to table, bite orange, flirt forward and backward 3 times each, toss to climb board and tight pen, cup feed. By now they should be fully on your keep feed and adapted to it. End of day 7 return cocks to the fly pens and water.

* Get up early on day 8 and put in tight pens, cover for darkness B-4 8 AM

Post subject: Day 8

7:30 AM place cocks in tightpens and cover front so to darken and allow them to rest until noon, place in pen on floor large enough for the cocks to stretch and wake up. Give them I dip of water and weigh them. Record weights next to the weights you took when you first selected them. Pay attention to these and the differences in them. By knowing which cock should gain and which cock should stay steady you can see how they are responding to the treatment, feed, handling and rotation. You can adjust certain cocks feed to compensate and you may have to throw one or two out if they reflect a great weight loss.

After they are weighed they are matched as closely as possible by weight, the soft rubber Muffs (gloves) are placed over their spurs and they are allowed 3 buckles (when to embattled cocks meet they 1st break, fly upward off the ground, and then buckle, attack with wings and feet almost simultaneous) From these buckles you are allowed to evaluate each individuals performance and compare it to the first time they were spared.

After the sparring, the cocks are rotated to the cords, given fresh water and fed on the cords.

For the record my fowl

1. lost 2 oz

2 gained 2 oz

1 gained 1 oz

3 stayed the same

None were thrown out and they are all coming along nicely as I had hoped and each as I have wanted them to.

Post subject: Day 9

Bring them in and place in the tight pens. One at a time, rub down, fly to table, bite the orange, flirt forward and backward 3 times each, fly to the climb board and lightly pull at his footing to make him learn to use the board. Take him down, stand on the table, lift and roll onto his side, being careful not to damage the tail lay the cock flat on his back and allow him to get up on his own. return to tightpens and feed vitamin enriched, moistened keep feed, adjust volume based on weights you got yesterday. After 1 hour place in fly pens and give fresh water.

Tomorrow is day 10. If you remember we wormed on the first day, most wormers will kill the live parasite but not the egg. So we will worm again tomorrow and dust for external parasites so that we know our fowl are pest free. We will also prepare a solution of 1 small bottle of oil of sassafras and 1 tub (large) of Vaseline to apply to the roosters head and knees to keep external parasites away during the keep. This will be applied on day 1 of the keep. We are still in the 14 day prekeep.

Post subject: Day 10 and more

Day 10 we move the cocks from the fly pens to the tightpens and rub each down, give worm medicine and dust for mites. Place them out on cords unfed. 1 hour later feed 1

The Keep

Day 1

One at a time bring the cocks into the cockhouse, massage as follows. Breast, 15 strokes front to rear open handed, then back, with fingers, 5 repetitions of gently rubbing back muscles, thighs, gently rubbing downward into the legs 15 times. The roosters usually enjoy this and relax very quickly after they get used to it. Be cautious not to break up their feathers. After the massage, fly to the table and offer a bite of orange and begin the work out. Normally you never work a rooster beyond the point where his mouth comes open to aid in breathing. The workout must be aerobic in style to be effective (fast paced). After the prekeep I use I have no trouble getting the following #’s out of the roosters with out them being over worked.

Forward flirts 15

Reverse flirts 15

side steps 5

(A side step is simply that, place your hand on his right wing and gently cause him to walk sideways to the left 2 steps, then trade hands and move to the right 2 steps for a 1 count.) Some say this is useless others say it binds the muscles, my grand father always believed it worked muscle that otherwise wouldn’t and taught them to step sideways more fluently than they normally would and helps with their balance also.

Flys on the climb board 5

Get off back 2

Bite of orange

fly to table

wash their feet and legs with water and witch hazel, apply the Vaseline with oil of sassafrases to their knees and feet lightly. wash their head with fresh water and lightly apply the vaseline.

Place in the tight pens and allow to cool out.


1 hour

take to the fly pens with the hens but place in different stalls than before.

Be patient, they will not go to bed easily tonight, when they do, lights out

Day 2

6:00 AM turn on lights in the barn and every day they are in the barn from now till the end of the keep. Cloudy days will make it dark in the barn and they will be lazy on a dark day.

6:00 PM Repeat Day 1

Bring in


Fly to table, offer orange

15 forward flirts

15 reverse flirts

5 Flies on the climb board side steps (a 5 count)

get off back 2 times

Fly to table

offer orange

tight pen, cool out


take to the cords

Remember, fresh water daily if its froze, replace it, if it stays froze, moisten the feed.

I use cooked rice in my keep with my regular keep feed and often add yogurt, eggwhites, soaked oats or unsweetened fruit juice so my feed is always wet in the keep.

Keep day 3

Bring in, fly to the table, massage

5 flys to the table fro 8 feet away

15 forward flirts

15 reverse flirts

5 – 2 counts of side steps

5 flys on the climb board

get off back 2 times

repeat massage

go thru all 6 then in the same order

remove each and handspar for 5 attempted buckles

cool out


put back out to fly pens

always put them in a pen other than the one they were in last.

At lights out throw a tablespoon of cornchops into the hay for them to scratch after tomorrow.

By now your roosters should act, look and feel like different birds. They should be fuller breasted, more firmly muscled, obviously stronger with a clear pep to them. They should have a good raspberry under their eye and their heads should snap with each movement. They should be more cocky and should cluck and talk to you throughout the workout and feeding. If they are not here, you should take a hard look and consider putting them out for two weeks and starting with fresh roosters. You should also have singled out any lazy roosters by now, you must pay extra attention to them as they will often work you harder than they work and can be disappointing in the end if they have not developed the stamina needed and the burst of action required.

Keep day 4 and beyond

Day 4 thru 6

Each day bring the cocks into the cock house tightpens and then begin the work. Each day work each rooster in groups of 10, (10 forward flirts, 10 reverse flirts, 10 runs, 10 flys) and work until his mouth pops open to inhale.(record this count each day to chart and gauge each roosters progress. Walk him down on the table, massage & cool out in the tight pens. Feed and continue rotation in sequence.

Keep Day 7

8:00 AM Bring cocks in to cockhouse and place in tightpens and “black out” which forces them to rest. At 12:00 drop out, peck up with a small amount of egg whites and corn chops, give 1 dip of water and black out again. 2:00 PM drop out & black out and again at 4:00 PM and 5:00. At 6:00 PM wake them, weigh them and match against near equal cocks from the yard and spar them for 3 good buckles, paying close attention to each cock for style, accuracy, aggression and of course mistakes or bad habits.

After sparring, cool out in the tight pens and feed allowing all the water they want and place in the fly pens with the hens.

Keep day 8 thru 14

Day 8 thru 13 is a continuance of day 6.

I work the cocks till their mouth pops open, count and record the flirts, flys and runs, then massage, cool out and feed. Keeping up with the rotation along the way and replacing any hen that doesn’t make the cocks work for it or stays on the roost pole all day. On day 10 we hand spar for three attempted buckles before the work out. this will lower your work out count for this day. As of day 13 we have our cocks working as follows;

15 flys to the table from 8 feet

20 forward flirts

20 reverse flirts

10 runs

10 flys to the climb board

4 times to get off back

and 55 bonus flys, flirts etc.

Remember, this work out is to be at an aerobic pace to build the wind and stamina

I had 1 cock refuse to work and un able to hold up to the pace of the other 5 and have thrown him out. This is not good as I am 2 weeks away and am down to 5 birds for a planned 4 cock show. Too few cocks to show and I am out and have to start over again.

Day 14

Noon Black out and rest until 4:00 PM, wake drop out, weigh, match up and spar for 3 buckles, give 1 dip of water and rest until 6:00 PM. Then put thru an abbreviated work out, cool out, feed and continue rotation. This is the last true spar so pay close attention to each rooster and what they do, If you cant see where they are putting their feet, video tape the session and then replay until you see it.

By now the cocks should be difficult to hold in your hands when you take them out of the tight pens, they want to get to the table for that morsel of food and some roosters will actually enjoy the work.

Notice this program was designed years ago and was intended for gaff fowl, however it should not be used on roundhead or oriental fowl as you will work their breast off and ruin them.

You should also notice the “raspberry” and the “popping” of the head being more noticeable and the roosters being much more of a rooster than before.

Day 15

Use a little patience tonight, try to equalize the work count on your cocks or at least get them to a manageable level / count Just above the last count you got. You can achieve this by slowing the pace a little or allowing 20 second rests between the exercises. This show is up to the following count.

15 flys to the table

20 forward flirts

20 reverse flirts

10 runs

10 flies to the climb board

5 times to get off back

60 Bonus flies, flirts and runs

This is a satisfactory count for a good workout but don’t forget the massage afterward.

Work the roosters every day to this count and speed up the pace a little each day thru day 22. Continue the rotation as before, continue the feed as before but on day 21 remove the hens from the flypens and allow no hens on the cord yard. Place 2 or 3 young fresh hens in the barn hall where the cocks can see them but not get to them for the duration of the keep.

Day 18

Continue the same routine except b-4 you go to the work table, use the “punch cock” (sparring partner) and hand spar each cock for 4 buckles.

then return to the tight pens. Work the base work out and return to the tight pen with a massage, give a dip of water, and then using the same sequence give them their bonus work, return to the tight pens, cool out and feed. You should consider beginning any feed adjustments now so not to shock their system with a sudden change in the last days. I begin to reduce the boiled egg whites and increase the fruit content slowly exchanging one for the other but I leave the rice in and will increase it later.

Day 23 and beyond

Day 23 with a show on day 28 you have to hold your cocks at this peak of condition while allowing them to rest a little and be fresh with an explosion of energy at the show. This is our method. Reduce the work out totals by a full 1/4 on this day and continue rotation. You should begin adjusting your feed down also. Remove the sunflower seed and whole oats due to the hulls and husks, for the next feed. Replace this lost volume with a slight increase in cracked corn, wheat and rice, cracked corn works fine.

24 Again reduce the work count by 1/4 continue rotation and feed the adjusted feed. Do not forget the fruit (banana, apple) bonuses at the table and on rotation if you do not mix it in your feed. Take the pullets out of the barn this night. I feed 1 time per day thru this day but will feed 2 times per day starting tomorrow morning just use half the amount.

25 Finally reduce the work by 1/4 again. You should be down to only 25% of you peak work. Feed adjusted feed and rotate to the fly pens for the evening and night. There are hundreds of recipes for what you should feed your cocks from now until Showtime, it is important you find what works for your cocks on your ground, in your hands. I simply continue to adjust mine to more scratch without sunflower seeds and no oats and begin to trade out my keep feed for my finish and “point feed” a little each feeding. At this point I am feeding 25% keep feed minus oats and sunflower, 25% cooked rice, 25 % boiled egg whites and 25% cracked corn. plus I still am giving bites of apple and banana from time to time.

Day 26 7:00 AM your cocks have been up and popping since 4:00AM, that’s enough. No work. Carry them to the table bite of apple, couple of strokes as you inspect him for the show. Feed morning feed. This is the time if you don’t like what you see or if he don’t feel like he is on top of the world and act like it, consider starting again. There is simply no excuse for entering a well deserving, well bred, capable gamecock in an event unless he stands a very good chance of winning. At this point we have our 5 cocks, 4 of which we are certain about, the fifth, an alternate, just in case someone gets sick, the fifth must be an equal because he may be needed to support the team, to fill in for someone who didn’t travel well. Today we know who is who. We place each in black out at 8 AM, turn off the lights, unplug the radio, close the door and cover the windows. You want your fowl to rest. Now is the time you begin to adjust the water in the cocks body. A cock that is very moist (a high moisture level in his system) will cut well but will not be able to withstand severe blows without losing moisture quickly and essentially going into shock causing you to not place in the show. On the other hand a cock that is too dry can take the blows much better but cannot deliver similar blows to his opponent, kinda like tight or cramped muscles due to dehydration. The factors are many in moisture control. Is it raining?, is the wind blowing? is it cold & dry or hot and moist?. You adjust the moisture up by simply allowing a bite of banana, boiled egg white or an extra dip of water depending on the severity of the conditions and what works for you, you adjust the moisture down by not allowing a dip of water or feeding a thumb nail sized piece of dry toast or 3 to 4 pieces of corn chops or some say a dip of unsweetened orange juice. Don’t worry about getting it right today, just start adjusting. the weather and other factors will change it tomorrow, besides, you still have tomorrow and the night after.

12 Noon Drop each cock out. After he drops flirt him to the table allow a peck of fruit or egg white, allow him 5 min. to stretch and look around then put back into black out. I use a half of a cedar post in my tight pens when blacking out. The cocks will rest better setting on this “Natural roost”. Repeat the drop and stretch at 4 PM and again at 8 PM. 8 PM Feed the evening feed that you have continued to adjust which should now be corn chops, egg whites and cooked rice.

Your cocks need a good ride to the show with out hard bumps and a lot of wind so consider that in your preparations.

27 and “the DAY”

Before 27 begins you should already know your schedule for the next 24 hours. Planning your feeds, adjusting your moisture, timing your trip to the show.

You must time your feed this day and adjust volume possibly so to make certain your cocks are clean an the point is coming on just before Showtime.

To calculate your last feed time take weigh in time minus 30 min.

(10 AM) –


Doc Moll Keep

This keep is laid out for 28 days.


Your keep feed should be at least 21% protein. Feed in the morning and at night. Morning feed should be soaked in milk, night feeding should be dry. For the first 14 days give a piece of fruit or vegetable at mid-day. 15 through 27 day give a small ball of hamburger ( about half the size of a dime ) and a piece of apple of the same size. Sprinkle a small amount of sugar on the hamburger and the apple ( 15 through 27 days ). 26 and 27 days Mix 3 teaspoons of cinnamon and one teaspoon of sugar together. Sprinkle a little over morning and night feedings. Also put 20 drops of Dextrose on morning and night feedings for each cock.


I rotate my cocks in to different pens. Every pen is a different shape or size. I use 4’x4’x4′ pens, 2’x2’x2′ drop out pens, 4′ wide x 4′ high x 12 long run pens, 10′ tie cords, and 4′ wide x 8′ high x 8′ long fly pens.

4’x4’x4′ pens are used for scratch pens. They are a wrapped in plywood around the bottom at one foot high. The rest of it is wire. The first one will have straw in the bottom. The second will have 6″ of sand in the bottom. The third will have horse droppings in it about 6″ high. Fourth will have loose rich (black) top soil in it. Fifth has cow droppings in it at 6″ deep. Six through ten is in the same order as one trough five.

2’x2’x2′ drop out pens are used to get the cocks familiar to them. I keep the drop out pens on fresh grass at all times.

4’x4’x12′ run pens are used to get the cocks lungs and legs in shape. There are all in one roll about a 1 1/2 apart. They will run back and fourth the whole time they are in them trying to get to the other cocks.

The ten foot tie cords are atached to plastic barrels. One barrel on the bottom standing up right with a barrel attached to the top of it laying on it side. The barrel on the top has both ends cut out with wire over each end with a door in the back. I put a hen in the barrel so the cock can see her but can’t get to her. The tie cords should be about 3 1/2 feet apart. Between each tie cord place a hen in a drop out pen. The cocks will fly back and fourth between hens the whole time they are on them.

I have my fly pens set up so that the cocks can see each other. What I mean by this is that the bottoms are 30″ high in plywood. From there on up is wire with a tin roof. The first one has a swing type roost at 6′ high in the middle of the pen. The second has a roost about 6″ off the ground in the middle. The third has a roost at 6′ high at the front of the pen. It comes off of the font wall right beside the door. It is only about 8″ wide and sets about 1 1/2 from the wall. Four is the same as two. Five is the same one. Six is the same as two. Seven is the same as three. Eight in the same as two. Nine is the same as one. Ten is the same as two.

All pen are numbered 1 through 10. All cocks are numbered 1 through 10. A Cock never goes back in the same pen in a 10 hour period. Here the system.

Day 1:

Place hens in fly pen numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. One in each pen. Spar cocks, worm and delouse. Place in fly pens. Cock one in pen one, cock two in two, and so on. You will notice the cocks with no hens in the pen with them flying up and down of the roost polls to see what’s going on in the other pen. Give them fresh water and leave them alone for the rest of the day. NO FEED!!!

Day 2:

The cocks will be sick from the wormer you used on them the day before. Pull them out of the fly pens and set them in the drop out pens for a couple of hours on fresh grass. All the drop out pens are the same. So they have no numbers. Pick them up after a couple of hours and place them in the 4’x4’x4′ scratch pens. Feed a sour feed. I used wheat bread and butter milk. Leave them there the rest of the day as they are still working the worms out of them and are still a little sick from them.

Day 3:

The work begins. Pull the cocks out of the scrach pens and put them in the run pens for two hours. Cock one in pen one, cock two in pen two,and so on. After two hours pick them up and place on tie cords for two hours. Cock one on cord one, cock two on cord two, and so on. Then pick them up and place in fly pens for two hours. Cock 10 in pen 1, cock 1 in pen 2, cock 2 in pen 3, cock 3 in pen 4, cock 4 in pen 5, cock 5 in pen 6, cock 6 in pen 7, cock 7 in pen 8, cock 8 in pen 9, cock 9 in pen 10. A cock never goes back in the pen he started in tell he goes through a full rotation of all pen numbers. Two hour later put them in the drop out pens for a couple of hours. Then to the 4’x4’x4′ scratch pens for the rest of the night. Cocks go in the same number order as the fly pens.

Day 4:

Place in run pens for two hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 3. Then to the tie cords for two hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 3. Then to the fly pens for two hours. Cock 9 in pen 1, cock 10 in pen 2, cock 1 in pen 3, cock 2 in pen 4, cock 3 in pen 5, cock 4 in pen 6, cock 5 in pen 7, cock 6 in pen 8, cock 7 in pen 9, cock 8 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for two hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 5:

Place in run pens for two hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 4. Then to the tie cords for two hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 4. Then to the fly pens for two hours.Cock 8 in pen 1, cock 9 in pen 2, cock 10 in pen 3, cock 1 in pen 4, cock 2 in pen 5, cock 3 in pen 6, cock 4 in pen 7, cock 5 in pen 8, cock 6 in pen 9, cock 7 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for two hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 6:

Place in run pens for two hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 5. Then to the tie cords for two hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 5. Then to the fly pens for two hours. Cock 7 in pen 1, cock 8 in pen 2, cock 9 in pen 3, cock 10 in pen 4, cock 1 in pen 5, cock 2 in pen 6, cock 3 in pen 7, cock 4 in pen 8, cock 5 in pen 9, cock 6 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for two hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 7:

SPARE COCKS!!! Place in run pens for two hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 6. Then to the tie cords for two hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 6. Then to the fly pens for two hours. Cock 6 in pen 1, cock 7 in pen 2, cock 8 in pen 3, cock 9 in pen 4, cock 10 in pen 5, cock 1 in pen 6, cock 2 in pen 7, cock 3 in pen 8, cock 4 in pen 9, cock 5 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for two hours. Then to the scratch pen for two hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 8:

Place in run pens for one hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 7. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 7. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 7 in pen 1, cock 8 in pen 2, cock 9 in pen 3, cock 10 in pen 4, cock 1 in pen 5, cock 2 in pen 6, cock 3 in pen 7, cock 4 in pen 8, cock 5 in pen 9, cock 6 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for one hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Then to the run pens for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 6 in pen 1, cock 7 in pen 2, cock 8 in pen 3, cock 9 in pen 4, cock 10 in pen 5, cock 1 in pen 6, cock 2 in pen 7, cock 3 in pen 8, cock 4 in pen 9, cock 5 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 9:

Place in run pens for one hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 8. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 8. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 5 in pen 1, cock 6 in pen 2, cock 7 in pen 3, cock 8 in pen 4, cock 9 in pen 5, cock 10 in pen 6, cock 1 in pen 7, cock 2 in pen 8, cock 3 in pen 9, cock 4 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for one hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Then to the run pens for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 4 in pen 1, cock 5 in pen 2, cock 6 in pen 3, cock 7 in pen 4, cock 8 in pen 5, cock 9 in pen 6, cock 10 in pen 7, cock 1 in pen 8, cock 2 in pen 9, cock 3 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 10:

Place in run pens for one hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 9. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 9. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 3 in pen 1, cock 4 in pen 2, cock 5 in pen 3, cock 6 in pen 4, cock 7 in pen 5, cock 8 in pen 6, cock 9 in pen 7, cock 10 in pen 8, cock 1 in pen 9, cock 2 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for one hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Then to the run pens for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 2 in pen 1, cock 3 in pen 2, cock 4 in pen 3, cock 5 in pen 4, cock 6 in pen 5, cock 7 in pen 6, cock 8 in pen 7, cock 9 in pen 8, cock 10 in pen 9, cock 1 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 11:

Place in run pens for one hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 10. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 10. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 1 in pen 1, cock 2 in pen 2, cock 3 in pen 3, cock 4 in pen 4, cock 5 in pen 5, cock 6 in pen 6, cock 7 in pen 7, cock 8 in pen 8, cock 9 in pen 9, cock 10 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for one hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Then to the run pens for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 10 in pen 1, cock 1 in pen 2, cock 2 in pen 3, cock 3 in pen 4, cock 4 in pen 5, cock 5 in pen 6, cock 6 in pen 7, cock 7 in pen 8, cock 8 in pen 9, cock 9 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 12:

Place in run pens for one hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 11. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 11. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 9 in pen 1, cock 10 in pen 2, cock 1 in pen 3, cock 2 in pen 4, cock 3 in pen 5, cock 4 in pen 6, cock 5 in pen 7, cock 6 in pen 8, cock 7 in pen 9, cock 8 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for one hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Then to the run pens for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 8 in pen 1, cock 9 in pen 2, cock 10 in pen 3, cock 1 in pen 4, cock 2 in pen 5, cock 3 in pen 6, cock 4 in pen 7, cock 5 in pen 8, cock 6 in pen 9, cock 7 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for the rest of the night. Then to the scratch pen for one hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 13:

Place in run pens for one hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 12. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 12. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 7 in pen 1, cock 8 in pen 2, cock 9 in pen 3, cock 10 in pen 4, cock 1 in pen 5, cock 2 in pen 6, cock 3 in pen 7, cock 4 in pen 8, cock 5 in pen 9, cock 6 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for one hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Then to the run pens for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 6 in pen 1, cock 7 in pen 2, cock 8 in pen 3, cock 9 in pen 4, cock 10 in pen 5, cock 1 in pen 6, cock 2 in pen 7, cock 3 in pen 8, cock 4 in pen 9, cock 5 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 14:

SPARE COCKS!!! Place in run pens for one hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 13. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 13. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 5 in pen 1, cock 6 in pen 2, cock 7 in pen 3, cock 8 in pen 4, cock 9 in pen 5, cock 10 in pen 6, cock 1 in pen 7, cock 2 in pen 8, cock 3 in pen 9, cock 4 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for one hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Then to the run pens for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the tie cords for one hours. Same number order as the fly pens. Then to the fly pens for one hours. Cock 4 in pen 1, cock 5 in pen 2, cock 6 in pen 3, cock 7 in pen 4, cock 8 in pen 5, cock 9 in pen 6, cock 10 in pen 7, cock 1 in pen 8, cock 2 in pen 9, cock 3 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. REMOVE HENS FROM FLY PENS!!!

Day 15:

Place in run pens for two hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 14. Then to the tie cords for two hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 14. Then to the fly pens for two hours. Cock 3 in pen 1, cock 4 in pen 2, cock 5 in pen 3, cock 6 in pen 4, cock 7 in pen 5, cock 8 in pen 6, cock 9 in pen 7, cock 10 in pen 8, cock 1 in pen 9, cock 2 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for the rest of the night. Then to the scratch pen for two hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 16:

Place in run pens for two hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 15. Then to the tie cords for two hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 15. Then to the fly pens for two hours. Cock 2 in pen 1, cock 3 in pen 2, cock 4 in pen 3, cock 5 in pen 4, cock 6 in pen 5, cock 7 in pen 6, cock 8 in pen 7, cock 9 in pen 8, cock 10 in pen 9, cock 1 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for the rest of the night. Then to the scratch pen for two hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 17:

Place in run pens for two hours. In the same number order as the fly pens from day 16. Then to the tie cords for two hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 16. Then to the fly pens for two hours. Cock 1 in pen 1, cock 2 in pen 2, cock 3 in pen 3, cock 4 in pen 4, cock 5 in pen 5, cock 6 in pen 6, cock 7 in pen 7, cock 8 in pen 8, cock 9 in pen 9, cock 10 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for the rest of the night. Then to the scratch pen for two hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 18:

Put the cocks tie cords for three hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 17. Then to the fly pens for three hours. Cock 10 in pen 1, cock 1 in pen 2, cock 2 in pen 3, cock 3 in pen 4, cock 4 in pen 5, cock 5 in pen 6, cock 6 in pen 7, cock 7 in pen 8, cock 8 in pen 9, cock 9 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. NO MORE RUN PENS!!!

Day 19:

Put the cocks tie cords for three hours. Same number order as the fly pens from day 18. Then to the fly pens for three hours. Cock 9 in pen 1, cock 10 in pen 2, cock 1 in pen 3, cock 2 in pen 4, cock 3 in pen 5, cock 4 in pen 6, cock 5 in pen 7, cock 6 in pen 8, cock 7 in pen 9, cock 8 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for the rest of the night. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens.

Day 20:

NO MORE TIE CORDS!!! Put cocks in fly pens for four hours. Cock 8 in pen 1, cock 9 in pen 2, cock 10 in pen 3, cock 1 in pen 4, cock 2 in pen 5, cock 3 in pen 6, cock 4 in pen 7, cock 5 in pen 8, cock 6 in pen 9, cock 7 in pen 10. Then to the drop out pens for one hours. Then to the scratch pen for two hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Put them back in the drop out pens for one hour. Then put them in the fly pens for rest of the night. Cock 7 in pen 1, cock 8 in pen 2, cock 9 in pen 3, cock 10 in pen 4, cock 1 in pen 5, cock 2 in pen 6, cock 3 in pen 7, cock 4 in pen 8, cock 5 in pen 9, cock 6 in pen 10.

Day 21:

SPARE COCKS!!! Drop cocks out in drop out pens for one hour. Then put then in the scratch pen for two hours. Same cock number to the same pen number as fly pens. Then back out in the drop out pens for one hour. Then put them back in the fly pen for the rest of the night. Cock 6 in pen 1, cock 7 in pen 2, cock 8 in pen 3, cock 9 in pen 4, cock 10 in pen 5, cock 1 in pen 6, cock 2 in pen 7, cock 3 in pen 8, cock 4 in pen 9, cock 5 in pen 10.

Day 22:

NO MORE SCRATCH PENS!!!Drop cocks out in drop out pens for one hour. Then put them back in the fly pen. Cock 5 in pen 1, cock 6 in pen 2, cock 7 in pen 3, cock 8 in pen 4, cock 9 in pen 5, cock 10 in pen 6, cock 1 in pen 7, cock 2 in pen 8, cock 3 in pen 9, cock 4 in pen 10. Put them back out in drop out pen at mid-day for one hour. Then put them back in the fly pens for the night. Cock 4 in pen 1, cock 5 in pen 2, cock 6 in pen 3, cock 7 in pen 4, cock 8 in pen 5, cock 9 in pen 6, cock 10 in pen 7, cock 1 in pen 8, cock 2 in pen 9, cock 3 in pen 10.

Day 23:

Drop cocks out in drop out pens for one hour. Then put them back in the fly pen. Cock 3 in pen 1, cock 4 in pen 2, cock 5 in pen 3, cock 6 in pen 4, cock 7 in pen 5, cock 8 in pen 6, cock 9 in pen 7, cock 10 in pen 8, cock 1 in pen 9, cock 2 in pen 10. Put them back out in drop out pen at mid-day for one hour. Then put them back in the fly pens for the night. Cock 2 in pen 1, cock 3 in pen 2, cock 4 in pen 3, cock 5 in pen 4, cock 6 in pen 5, cock 7 in pen 6, cock 8 in pen 7, cock 9 in pen 8, cock 10 in pen 9, cock 1 in pen 10.

Day 24:

Drop cocks out in drop out pens for one hour. Then put them back in the fly pen. Cock 1 in pen 1, cock 2 in pen 2, cock 3 in pen 3, cock 4 in pen 4, cock 5 in pen 5, cock 6 in pen 6, cock 7 in pen 7, cock 8 in pen 8, cock 9 in pen 9, cock 10 in pen 10. Put them back out in drop out pen at mid-day for one hour. Then put them back in the fly pens for the night. Cock 10 in pen 1, cock 1 in pen 2, cock 2 in pen 3, cock 3 in pen 4, cock 4 in pen 5, cock 5 in pen 6, cock 6 in pen 7, cock 7 in pen 8, cock 8 in pen 9, cock 9 in pen 10.

Day 25:

Leave them alone. Don’t move any of them.

Day 26 through 28:

Put in holding pens. DO NOT BLACK THEM OUT!!! You want them to stay alert. Make sure no hens or yard chickens can enter the area you have them in. Keep them calm and alert.

Your last feed should be 17 hours from weigh in time. Make sure you have them weighed in before the 17 hours is up. Feed two kernels of corn to each cock at the end of the 17 hour period and every two hour after that.

Boil whole corn, about one quart full, tell in cracks. Drain the water off. Put it in a bowl and cover it with milk. This is what you give them after the 17 hour period. ONLY 2 PIECES TO EACH BIRD!!!


The Charlie Carr Modern Knife and Gaff Keep

Most knife fights are decided in a few seconds after the rooster leaves your hand. Endurance and stamina play no part in this type of fight. Cutting ability, aggressiveness, sense, health, and speed are what it takes to win quick, which is what you want to do. Mental condition is 80% of condition is a well fed knife or gaff cock.

He must have his mind on absolutely nothing but the other rooster. This mental condition is achieved by a good week of pre-keep in which the roosters are gentled and acquainted slowly with their new surroundings.

You may think when you follow this keep you are not really conditioning the roosters you are partly right because what we are trying to do is get the rooster ready to fight. Without losing any of his natural abilities, especially his cutting ability.

In conditioning for the gaff or short knife the keep is the same except during the work week you may want to fly the rooster on the work board: or move him more times. Start with 5 flys and work up to 15. Hold the rooster lower that the board: about 3 feet out and release him at the board. This is optional, I think it’s more for you than the rooster. Most people quit hand working roosters years ago, even for the gaff. Any keep or video you see with board work is dated to say the least.

Facilities and Equipment Needed

Cockhouse: About 15′ X 20′ with high ceiling, well ventilated, but no drafts, stalls about 2 square.

Flypens: Roost poles about 4′ high off the ground, pens about 5′ wide X 8′ long X 8′ high use black felt tar paper on the floor with 4″ of corn shucks as litter.

Feed cups: Small, plastic 2 oz. feed measure.

Stringwalks: 7′ long in grass, huts 4′ high.

Drop-out pens: 4′ diameter and 4′ high, put some loose leaves.

Rectangular Pens: 4′ X 6′ X 4′, use horse manure as litter.

Pens: 4′ X 4′ put on the grass. Have a pullet by each one.

Acquaint roosters with all stalls and pens they are going to be in.

Feed twice a day – start with 2oz. feed per feeding. Feed dry in morning. Wet with about 1 ounce of buttermilk at night.

Give 1 – teaspoon of chopped vegetables and fruits at noon each day of entire 3 week keep up to Wednesday of the third week.

The pre-keep is mainly for mental conditioning.

Spar everyday in pre-keep, just 2 buckles. Also tease in and off pens.


Morning feed: 50% laying pellets (18%)

25% Cracked corn

5% Wheat

5% Barley

5% Dry Blue Ribbon dog food (21%)

5% Calf manna

5% Oat groats

Night Feed: 75% above mixture 25% Cooked pearl barley and buttermilk

Feeding and Conditioning Procedure

At 7 am go to the cockhouse and get the cocks from the stalls where you put them the night before. Be sure they have no feed in their craw, then put them in the fly pens. Throw 1 1/2oz of the morning feed on the litter. When the cocks are taken from the fly pens, check the pen to see if all the feed has been eaten. If not cut the amount by 1/4oz the next morning. You can increase by the same amount if he cleans up real quick and still acts hungry.

Leave the cocks in the fly pens for an hour then follow the morning schedule below:

8 am – 10 am ………………………………Strings

10 am – 12 noon ………………………….4 X 6 pens

12 noon – 2 pm ……………………………Round pens

2 pm – 3 pm ………………………………..4 X 4 pens

3 pm – 4 pm ………………………………..Back to fly pens

At noon feed each rooster a heaping teaspoon of chopped vegetables and fruits. (Do this the entire keep up to Wednesday of the third week.)

At 4 pm put the roosters in the stalls and feed the night feed.

Feed 2oz per bird. If he has any in is craw in the morning, feed 1/4oz less the next night. On

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the first week, put one tablespoon of redcell vitamins per six cocks on night feed.

On Tuesday and Thursday of the first week put one tablespoon of desicated liver per six cocks on night feed. Starting Sunday, the 7th day of the third week, change the moving schedule to below:

Monday: Move 4 times.

Tuesday: Move 3 times.

Wednesday: Move 2 times.

Thursday: Move 1 time.

Friday: Rest day.

Monday of the third week put the roosters in stall at 4 pm.

Tuesday put them in stalls at 3 pm.

Wednesday at 2 pm. Thursday at 1 pm. On Friday rest all day or half a day, use own judgement. Nervous or high strung roosters require less rest.

The idea is to move the cocks less and less each day of the last week until the day before the fight. Starting Monday of the second week, increase the amount of cracked corn in the morning and night feed by 15% per day.

Starting on Wednesday of the second week, discontinue the vitamins at night feeding, also discontinue the vegetables and fruits at noon. Cut feed 1/4 ounce on

Thursday morning. Cut feed 1/4 ounce more on Thursday night. Friday morning feed 1 1/2 ounce.

Point for knife: If you fight on Saturday at about noon, feed 1 teaspoon leveled of half cracked corn and half barley wet with buttermilk on Friday night. Feed 1/4 teaspoon Saturday morning if the cock craps out very little or just “dots” early in the morning. Keep droppings medium loose all during keep, even on fight day.

Point for gaff: On Friday night feed half a teaspoon of cracked corn and half hard boiled egg white with a few drops of buttermilk over it.

Traveling Feed

This is going to be given in place of the night of travel. Give this feed just before you box up and head out.

Take one box of knox plain gelatin and mix with 2 cups of water and 1/2 can (small can) of pet milk and one tablespoon of sugar in a boiler. Stir and bring to a boil. Pour into a pan 1″ deep. Put into refrigerator. Cut into 1″ cubes and give to roosters just before you leave. If they won’t eat it, hand feed it. Use this feed when traveling long distance only. They will not dry out and travel well. When traveling short distances, be sure there is no feed in craw before you start.


Once a day let the roosters buckle into each other one time and catch them immediately. If a rooster gets hit and doesn’t get to hit back he will tomorrow. When the roosters feathers are green, which they will be until sometime in January or February, hold a battered cock in your hand let the rooster to be sparred hit into him once or twice a day. Hold the battered cock only one foot off the ground and offer him straight into the cock to be sparred. Don’t make your cock fly up after a cock. Bill the cocks before you do the above.

“Remember roosters will not travel well or fight up to par when in green feathers.”

“Good Luck”

Truly yours,

Charles W. Carr



My fowl are kept in 4’x4’x8′ high fly-pens at all times. During the coop-walk period, I feed- 1/3 oats, 1/3 scratch & 1/3 lay pellets. With the fly-pens boarded up at least 3′ on the bottoms, the fowl get all the exercise they need in order to retain their proper weight. If, the fowl need to lose weight, I cut their feed down. If need to gain, I simply ad more feed. I give about 3oz of feed daily.


Here, we change the feed a bit. Instead of measuring the feed with the container, as in the coop-walk, we measure all our feed on the scales. All parts are by WEIGHT.

I use 1 part cooked liver, 1 part onions, 1 part lay pellets, 1 part oats & 1 part scratch. First, I cook the liver & then grind the cooked liver with the raw onions. Next, I mix all parts together and ad a heaping tablespoon of Log Cabin Conditioner to each 1/2 lb of this mixture.

This mix is kept in the refrigerator with a top on it, in order to retain a stable moisture. Each bird is given 3 heaping tablespoons daily in his feed cup (once daily).

Several hens & pullets should be running loose at all times in order to make these cocks work up & down in their pens.

Fresh water cups, & feed cups should be kept up high near the end of their high roosts (solid roosts, no swings). Their roosts are about 6′ up off the bottoms of the pens. At leat 6″ of clean builders sand is kept in the pens.

Water is taken away from these fowl after the last “IT” is given, the night before their battle-day. Only 2 “IT”s are given at the end of this keep. One on Thursday, one on Friday before the battle-day on Saturday.

Take your fowl off their roosts just before daylight on the battle-day. In that way, they are empty, rested & SHARP.

ALL the B-vitamins are derived from liver. When we use liver, we are giving them all their B-vitamins in their best form, which is the NATURAL form.

Good Luck

Shelby Johnson



by Anthony Greene (1920)

Cock Bread

Cock bread, as made and used by me:

One quart of wheat flour, one quart of rye flour, one quart of steel cut oat meal. Mix same in a thorough manner. Then in preparing same for raising or selling, use a large cup full, or two small cups full of any kind of sugar. Mix again thoroughly.

Add a dozen eggs, the whites and yolks beaten separately. Add to the flour rye and oat meal, Mix well, and in doing so I use a small pinch of salt and then sufficient yeast or yeast cake to raise or lighten the batter.

When a sufficient time elapses so it raises or lightens, mix it just as your wife or mother does her bread for the table.

This should not be used unti two or three days old and at all times keep covered from wind or the elements, whether excessive heat or otherwise.

When ready to feed the bread, I cut it into thin slices, then into strips 1/4 inch wide, and then again into a lot of small pieces size of Canadian flint corn. So much for the bread.

I also use, in addition to this, two-year-old corn, “yellow round, small Canadian.” I also use nice clean wheat instead of the corn when feeding during warm weather.

Coming From Walks

Now, I presume it is not necessary for me to tell you that cocks coming from walks or from city runs, should be in full feather, clean and free from chicken vermin.

I trim all cocks around the vent and top of the tail slightly. Weigh each cock and otherwise note down in a book the weights and conditions as to whether excessively fat or not. The same being numbered from 1 to 15 or 1 of as the number up for conditioning or for work.

When ready to feed, I invariably use bread and milk, and into each cup for eack cock I put teaspoonful of cream of tartar and magnesia, equal parts, and well mixed before applying. One block or square of magnesia and 25c or 30c worth of cream of tartar will, as a rule, suffice to reduce in a mild form, the inward fat.

It is well known to you and me, that cocks, when first up, or cooped, become feverish, so to speak. The merits of magnesia as a light physic is well known to nearly everyone, and cream of tartar is cooling as well as has a tendency to heal a feverish subject.

I almost forgot to say, I sweetn the bread with milk so as to make it palatable. Two or three days is sufficient time to use this soft food. Your weighing the cocks will, from time to time, with your own horse sense, tell you when to halt.


Beginning the first morning, I feed a few pieces of cock bread to each and find in this way those, if any, who do not like the bread which sometimes happens.

During all these three or four days, I try to become acquainted with my cocks, handle and stroke their plumage gently, and when I find a nice talkative and gentle cock I flirt or run him a few times, but never until the fifth day give him any work.

When I find they eat the cock bread, I give them a little corn or wheat as the case may be, corn in cold weather, wheat in warm weather. When on the eve of fourth day, I first feed a portion of bread, then corn, not a full one. I then let them have 6 or 7 sips of clean water.

On morning of fifth day, I flirt each cock 10 or 12 times, and take great pains to teach a cock to run, without his digging in his toe nails, which many cocks will do if they are not carefully taught.

After working them, always at regular hours, morning and evening I let them rest a half hour or so, then feed as previously directed.
After the seventh day, I begin to feed the white of a hard boiled egg to each cock, dividing one egg between two cocks. First, I give an equal quantity of the bread to each cock, then I go around again, giving each cock his corn and then when this is disposed of, I feed each cock his 1/2 egg, or in other words, I feed in courses just as your wife would her guests at your table.

This entails some work and time, but I have found the cocks enjoy it, the same as you or I would a well served meal. Now, always feed plenty, never try to starve any cock to any imaginary weight. Plenty of feed, if they can digest it, means a strong cock and good finisher in a long drawn out battle.

No Work When Tired

It might be well to state I increase the number of flirts or runs back and forth, as a rule, to 40 of each, morning and evening, but never work a cock when he shows any evidence of being tired. Brains come into use at this point and each cock, like each man,can stand more work than another, from 15 to 18 days is as long as I think it proper to work cocks and from 10 to 13 or 14 days for stags.

Age and their condition must be considered. Now, my friends, I want to say this: When I have much at stake or a main of any decent proportions, on hand, I always use beef tea. I purchase large size jars of extract beef, reduce it to suit my taste, let it cool and after through feeding in course, give each five or six dips or beakfulls. This they all love, and I find it strengthening and of great value.


Now, I want to impart a most valuable asset, as I have found it, in heeling. By carefully watching each cock as you flirt him, you will find but few who do not handle their feet or legs differently.

One will carry his feet straight and close to his body. One will throw his right foot out, another his left. Then again, another will with only same force in flirting them, throw both feet straight and above their heads. I have always found the latter to be good true cocks to cut.

Those that hold the feet close and tidy to their body when flirting or tossing, I have also found to be good, uniformly fast cocks and good cutters.
The cock that throws his left foot out, I try to remedy this defect by very closely pointing the heel on that foot and the one who throws out the right foot, I apply the same rule and closely pack the gaff on the cock. As all students of anatomy in fowl or man are aware, all are not constructed alike, so it is impossible for a Tom Sharkey type of man to hit out straight. Corbett, McCoy and others can do so. It is thus with cocks, and the student who will try and learn something every main he fights, heels and feeds, will beat the chap who “knows it all” and will not learn.

Brains do and ever will, win in any calling, be it glass blowing or conditioning game fowl.

There are many little, details of which you know as well as I do, no use speaking of them, but clean coops and pure air, are life of man and cocks.


Morrison 21 Day Keep

Pre Keep

The Pre Keep is one week long. If your putting up for a 5 cock start out with 10 birds at the beginning of the pre keep then cut down to 7 birds on cut day. Make the cut down to seven birds.

Day 1: go thru chcickens make sure they are not molting first off . Then Worm cocks with Piperzene. Then delouse chickens with a 50% Seven Dust 50% Chicken Delouse (carried at Southern States) Put Chickens in fly pen with wormed deloused hen.

Day 2: handle cocks and give them a good rub down and a couple run’s and fly’s get them used to you. The #1 key to winning fights is making the rooster your best friend.

Feed ½ regular feed morning and night (exactly 12 hours apart) Put in different fly pen with different hen.

Day 3: Do the same as day 2 (make sure you gentle him down)

Day 4: get up early feed cocks ½ regular feed then put in fly pen with different hen. Right before evening feed spar cocks naked spured let them know that the other rooster always means buisness, spar for two quick buckels. Feed cocks evening feed and put up. DON’T WORK COCKS TODAY.

Day 5: Make the cut. Feed and do everything as you did yesterday. Run up Cocks 5 times. Run cocks 5 times. Fly cocks 5 times. Feed regular morning and night.

Day 6: Spar cocks at day brake with muffs for 3 buckles. Feed regular morning and night.

Day 7: wake up feed cocks 2 ounces of bread and milk. Run up Cocks 5 times. Run cocks 5 times. Fly cocks 5 times.(do this morning and night) Feed cocks nothing this evening.

This ends the pre keep your birds should be in great shape by know and as gentle as a dog.

The Keep

Day 1: Run up Cocks 5 times. Run cocks 5 times. Fly cocks 5 times.(do this morning and night) morning feed should be ½ keep feed (put cocks in scratch pens then feed) leave in scratch pens till noon then put in fly pens till dark (no hens in the fly pens from here on out) evening after work feed cocks in feed cup out of black out box.

Day 2: do every thing the same as day 1

Day 3: Run up cock 5 times. Run cock 10 times. Fly cock 10 times. (do this morning and evening) Morning feed should be ½ keep feed with a little white hard boiled egg in it this morning feed cocks out of cup put in fly pens till noon then put in scratch pens till dark at evening feed time feed regular in scratch pens put in black out boxes give each cock ½ of a one source vitamin pill

Day 4 : Do same as day before except spar cocks with gloves for two buckles.

Day 5: Feed same as day before except increase work to run up cock 7 times, run cock 15 times, fly cock 15 times. Feed a little treat at noon while switching from scrath pens to fly pens.

Day 6 :feed same as day before except add some hard boiled white egg morning and night . Work cock same as day before.

Day 7: Do everything same as day before. Spar cocks for 4 good buckles

Day 8: Feed same as day before Increase work to 10 run ups, 20 runs and 20 flys

Day 9 Doeverything same as day before

Day 10: Quit all work spar cocks one short buckle this afternoon with gloves. Start feeding all cocks morning and evening out of feed cups in black out boxes. Keep Cocks in fly pens all day from here on out.

Day 11: everything same as day before

Day 12 everything same as day before but do not spar cocks

Day 13: COCKS WILL BE BLACKED OUT ALL DAY this morning reduce feed a little in morning . this evening feed cornmeal 1 ½ two liter cap fulls

Day 14: COCKS WILL BE BLACKED OUT ALL DAY this morning feed cornmeal 1 ½ two liter cap fulls this evening feed ½ cap full with a little raw egg in it.

Run up= Climb Board



W.T. Morrison (BROWNREDS)


Training of the Gamecock

By Ray Alexander


Training starts with lots of Hard Work
It is no longer good enough to have good breeding and handling in battle cocks. Today’s sport requires weeks of weight preparation, physical training as well as, mental training in conjunction with genetics and handling. Once this work is completed, it takes an experienced eye to select those cocks with the most winning characteristics. No doubt, training starts with lots of hard work.

The first step is bringing your cocks within their correct weight. This will require approximately five weeks of rotating your cock every other day, and a proper diet, which is described in detail further on. Foe example, shuffle them up like dominoes, moving them from one t-pee to another. Try to have him by a different cock every time. After the first week, separate your cocks by placing your over weight cocks together, then the cocks that are the correct weight together, and finally the under-weight cocks together. This will allow you to gage their weight/diet training.

Feed straight laying pellets until the fat is removed from the over weight cocks. Feed the correct-weight cocks the following mixture.1.Part corn, 1part wheat, and 1part oats, 1partlaying pellets. Feed the under weight the following mixture: 2 parts corn, 2 parts wheat, 1 part oats, 1 part laying pellets. When the cocks are at their right weight, begin sparring them. Let them hit a few times at each other. Continue moving the cocks from one t-pee to another.

After three weeks, all cocks should be ready to make your selection. From the ones you did not select this time, continue doing the same as before and they should be ready by the time you make your selection for the next keep.

The Feed Keeps (Cool months)

1-cup corn

1-cup oats

1-cup wheat

1 cup laying pellets

Feed 1 ½ ounce in the morning and at night.

Night Feed

When preparing the feed keep mentioned above for night feed, a milk mixture should be added. Milk mixture consists of one can of evaporated milk, 3 cans of water. Pour 1 oz. Of milk mixture per cock over night feed and serve it immediately.

Last four feeds should be cracked corn, soaked in water for five minutes, then drained. Keep water in front of cocks at all times, until 10 o clock the last day, then no more water. Select the cocks to fight the morning of fight day. Select the ones that have thrown their feet the best and the one that are the sharpest.

The Feed Keep (Hot Months)

1-cupwhole corns

1-cup pigeon corn

1-cup wheat

1/2 – cup racehorse oats

½ cup hulled oats

1-cup pigeon feed

Feed 1-1/2 ounce in the morning and at night.

Morning feed

6 parts grain mixture

14 parts laying pellets (15 to 16% protein)

Night feed (3 pm)

12 parts grain mixture

6 Parts laying pellets

Put 2 small tomatoes, 11/2 carrots chopped up in wedges and 2 cups buttermilk in a blender. Pour this mixture over your 12 scoops on grain feed.

On your night feed, put 3 raw eggs over your feed one day, the next day, put one sardines (soaked in water not oil) Rotate (eggs/Sardines) every other day until five days before fight day. Stop everything except the buttermilk over your grain at 3 pm. This will give it plenty of time to soak in the grain.

On the soaked feed, use ice cream scoop level to feed your cocks. Add 6 ice cream

scoops of laying pellets to soaked grain mixture just as you start to feed so it will not be gummy.

Five days before fight day, add a little more corn every day to your feed until you have straight corn the last 2 feeds. Feed one ice cream scoop level to each cock for the night feed until last 2 feeds.

When you have straight corn, feed one ounce in morning and ¾ ounce the night before the fight. Give cocks only 2 sips of water.


Bring cocks to cock house 12 to 14 days before fight day.

FIRST DAY: Put cocks in holding stalls around 12 oclock noon , leave in the stalls until 3 pm then bring cocks to work board, flying them 5 or 6 times to the board. Rub and play with him for approximately 3 minutes then weight him. Record his weight and take him to scratch pen. Continue with each cock until you have seven cocks in scratch pens.

Note: 7 have been used as an example. The number of cocks will depend upon your derby. Throw a few grains of corn in litter to get the cock to scratch. After 5 minutes, put him back in the holding stall. Continue until you have 7 more in the stall. Continue until you are finished by 4:45 pm. This will give you 15 minutes to prepare your feed mix and be able to feed at 5 pm.

Second Day: In the morning, put the cocks in the fly pens. Feed in cups and water by 7 am. Fly pens will consist of 10 pens with sand for litter and 10 pens with horse manure for litter (Or what is available). At 12 pm, switch cocks from sand to horse manure and vise versa. At 3 pm, start taking cocks to work board. Ten flys each and 3 minutes playing and rubbing. Put the cock in the scratch pen and with shucks or straw. Continue until finished with all cocks. Put cocks back in holding stalls and feed at 5 pm.

Third Day: Same as second day except go to 30 flies.

Fourth Day: Same as second day except go up to 40 flies.

Fifth Day: Same as the second day except go up to 50 flies.

Sixth Day: Same as the second day except go up to 60 flies.

Seventh Day: spar cocks twice before making your selection of fight day candidates. Cocks should be getting tired and should not spar well. After the first spar, wait 30 minutes and try to spar your cocks against a different kind of opponent. So he can learn every style of the opponent he might meet the day of the fight. Select the cocks that will hit when they have the advantage. Choose the ones that throw their feet out the farthest. Pick the cock that tries not to get hit. Select the ones that rise when they hit. The perfect cock to select is the one that rises and hits every time the opponent comes toward him. After sparring feed your cock evaporated milk and bread to replenish his moisture.

Eight Day: same as second day except go down to 40 flies.

Ninth Day: same as second day except go down to 30 flies.

Tenth Day: Same as second day except go down to 20 flies.

Eleventh Day: Drop cocks out at 6 am to dump out. Put him back in the stall until 12 pm., and then throw him out in small pen to dump out for about 5 minutes. Put him back to the rest stall until 12 pm., and then throw him out in small pen to dump out for about 5 minutes. Put him back in the rest stall until 4 pm, and then drop him out to dump again. Feed at 5 pm. Start cutting the cocks feed a little every feed until last feed is one tablespoon.

It should be mentioned that the beginning to enter any derby must begin with cocks of excellent heritage. Good breeding is an art acquired after years of hard work, planning, in depth genetic study and result interpretation. It is also worth mentioning the good breeding is only succeeded by good health. It is imperative that you supply the preventive and curative medicines needed.

Although gameness is nature, skill in cockfighting is certainly nurtured. Winning is more than luck, as shown through this regimen. As with the athlete, some vital characteristics are proper diet, proper body weight, physical training, psychological preparation, experienced guidance, and handling of career.



1. Cocks have been wormed, deloused and are at about their fighting weight.

2. Work will be 50 runs each morning, leave in pens during day, or sun coop or scratch pen several hours a day.

3. Work at night will be 30 flys, feed and water.

4. Work will be the same each day up to Friday night before Sunday fight. Start cocks working very slow, then speed the work up each day.

5. The 5th and 6th day the cocks should be gentle and working very fast.

6. Weigh cocks each day; any cocks that are losing weight give 2 tablespoons buttermilk on night feed grain. One heaping tablespoon grain mix each cock. For cocks gaining weight give two tablespoons tomato juice on night grain.

7. Morning feed will be 2 tablespoons grain mix up to Friday before fight day on Sunday.

8. Five or six days before fight day spar cocks. Set them close, spar briefly; after sparring, wash cock’s head, inside mouth, legs and feet with witch hazel. No work today.

9. If you fight on Sunday, no work Friday night, just feed, water and leave in stalls.

10. During the keep, feed cocks only what they eat eagerly, rotate cocks to different pens and stalls each day.


11. Friday night before Sunday fight, feed one tablespoon grain mix, one tablespoon corn chops, one tablespoon buttermilk.

12. Saturday morning no work, keep cocks comfortable and quite all day. Feed 1/2 tablespoon grain mix. one tablespoon corn chops, 1/2 boiled egg white, water.

13. Saturday night the same as morning.

14. If the fight is Sunday night, feed Sunday morning; feed same as Saturday; feed early at least 2 hours before leaving for the pit.

15. If the fight is Sunday moring, no feed or water Sunday morning. If your cocks have not fought by Sunday afternoon, every 3 hours give each cock a pinch of boiled egg white and 2 or 3 pecks of a peeled apple, in hot westher also give a few dips of buttermilk. This small amount of feed will keep the cocks from becoming nervous, distressed and from going off point.

Any conditioning capsules, powders or pills can be used with this keep. Use only proven ones sold in the Journals or ones that you know are good.


Harold Browns Pointing Method

This was posted by SlipSpur at, he said harold browns conditioner gave him this method.

Point Feed Recipe…

1 cup Popcorn… 1 cup Pearled Barley… 1 cup Long Grain Rice… 1 cup Raisins… cinnamon… and 1 small can Pet Milk.
Boil the Popcorn for 10 minutes… then add the Barley, Rice & Raisins and boil for 10 more minutes. Drain in a collender and rince well with cold water… let set & drain for a few minutes then put into a large bowl with a tight sealing lid… add the Pet Milk ( you could use plain Yogert if ya want ) and just enough cinnimon to taste ( roosters like it )… stir well & refridgerate.

First day of Pointing ( 3 days before show day )…

Morning feed is 1/2 your regular keep feed & 1/2 Point feed… mix the two together real well and put 2 heaping tablespoons in each feed cup… after ya get the cups filled put 1/8 teaspoon of Alfalfa Meal right on top.

Evening feed is 1/2 your regular keep feed & 1/2 Point feed… mix the two together real well and put 2 heaping tablespoons in each feed cup… after ya get the cups filled put 1/8 teaspoon of Alfalfa Meal right on top.

Second Day…

Morning feed is 1/4 your regular keep feed & 3/4 Point feed… mix the two together real well and put 2 heaping tablespoons in each feed cup… after ya get the cups filled put 1/8 teaspoon of Alfalfa Meal right on top.

Evening feed is 1/4 your regular keep feed & 3/4 Point feed… mix the two together real well and put 2 heaping tablespoons in each feed cup… after ya get the cups filled put 1/8 teaspoon of Alfalfa Meal right on top.

Third Day…
Morning feed is 1/4 your regular keep feed & 3/4 Point feed… mix the two together real well and put 2 heaping tablespoons in each feed cup… after ya get the cups filled put 1/8 teaspoon of Alfalfa Meal right on top.

Evening feed is 1 full tablespoon of rinced & dried Flint Corn chops… thats it, NOTHING ELSE… if ya can’t find the Flint corn, the regular feed corn will work… just make sure it’s freshly chopped and all the dust is rinced off & it’s dry.

Show Day…

Morning, let the cocks out to dump… don’t stir em up… ya don’t want to waste the energy you’ve been working so hard to build up in em. Dump em again before you put em in the carrying boxes & leave for the show in plenty of time to weigh em in without hurrying… drive easy and NO SMOKING in the vehicle… when you get to the show barn… get your cockhouse clean before you take the birds in… make sure you clean the stalls real good & DO NOT spray anything in em… they need to be clean, dry & fume free with absolutely nothing they could possibly eat in em. After cleaning the cockhouse dump the cocks again & get em weighed & banded, then put em in the stalls… turn the lights out and leave em alone to gather back up.

Calculating Feed Times…
For a rooster to get sharp he needs to be gut empty with high blood sugar levels… to figure what time to feed I go by the weigh in time… if weigh in time is 11:00am you can figure it’ll be about an hour before your possible first show so that would be 12:00pm… subtract 14 hours… that would put your last feeding ( the corn chops ) at 10:00pm the previous day. That means all your feedings will be every 12 hours at 10:00 am & pm during the Pointing.

Your roosters during Pointing…
You can’t just leave the birds in the stalls… you have to get them out several times a day so they can streatch & dump… I try to get em out every 6 hours. I just toss em on the work bench so they can pop their wings and walk around while I’m cleaning out the stall. If he has poop on his feet wipe them off before you put him back in the cleaned stall.

Water during pointing…
I keep a full cup of water in front of them the first, second and morning of the third day… after the last full feeding take the water away. Roosters will regulate their own moisture levels fed this way… keep the cups full so you can see exactly how much they drink… it shouldn’t be much if any. If they drink a lot they have either a gut irritation or a slight fever… don’t show those that drink too much.

Holding Roosters…
One of the worst things that can happen is for your birds to go over on ya… by that I mean their blood sugar levels drop and they go flat. I’d always rather have my birds almost on point than to have been there and gone flat. Watch your birds real close… when you think they are really starting to come on to point start feeding em 3 of either the rice or barley out of the pointing feed… thats it, just 3… no more no less and do this every hour on the hour without fail or the birds will go south on ya. The main thing is to keep the gizzard working… not too hard, but working… when the gizzard stops, your birds stop.



by RedBud

You must understand that a gamecock can’t be trained like a horse, dog, or other animals. Animals can understand a man more than fowl and can be pushed. A gamecock can’t. He only can and must fight by instinct. Therefore, he has to be well bred from families of high percentage winning fowl. Assumming you have good fowl, this natural method will tell you exactly how good they really are. It will allow them to fight as they were bred. If they can’t win, you will just have to go looking for better fowl.

With all in mind remember, when a well bred naturally conditioned gamecok wins a good fight, you will feel the greatest satisfaction and elation, than if you fought a cock that won after being dosed and injected with drugs, pills, etc.


The most important point in this method is extended artificial daylight or lighting. As you know, in winter, the days are short and the nights are long. The cocks are fat, just finishing their moult, and lazy. They should be a little fat in order to moult properly. Your precondition pens should be at least 4’x5’x6′ high. Inside should be a swing 3 feet high and a solid roost 4 or 4 1/2 feet high, so they don’t hit the tips of their wings on the tops of the coops when they flap and crow. Cocks and stags should be put in these pens three or four weeks before you put them through your keep. There should be a light socket (20 watt bulb) in each pen. Or better yet, if you have all your pens in one building or large coop, one big light is enough. Hens running around outside the pens help pep up the cocks; they work harder trying to make the hens. COcks and stags should have at least 16 daylight hours to precondition properly. They need three or four weeks, depending on how fat they are.

You should cut down on their feed until they come down in weight and start jumping on the wire to be fed. Keep plenty of straw in the pens (corn husks are prefered but not readily available in all parts of the country) so they have to work for it. The best thing to do is set up an automatic timer light switch, the same as they use in poultry houses for laying hens. Set the switch to turn on the lights at 2:00 a.m. and to go off at daylight. Just be sure they get 16 hours awake time; the same as they will get in the summer. When preconditioned this way, your cocks will be lively, active, and easy to put through your keep. Also, while preconditioning, you must pick up and check your cocks’ weights. This will help tame them and make them easier to finish. Check them two or three times a week. When your cock’s or stag’s pelvis bones become pointed and close together, they are ready. If your stags fought well, they will now do as good or better. Some strains fight better as cocks. But, I believe a good stag should be just as good when he becomes a cock.

There are so many methods devised to work and feed a cock for battle. You couldn’t try them all in a lifetime. I have tried many with negative results. Too much benchwork will make them muscle bound, and who can really tell if all those fancy feeding systems, cockbread, etc., really do much good. My Hatch and Butchers, conditioned this natural way, made me back to back Cocker of the Year awards at the Calumet Club in the short heel (1 1/2″) and the Mexican short knive. This was aacomplished only because the cocks were well bred and allowed to fight naturally. In short, they have it or they don’t have it.


My everyday feed consists of 1 part corn (except in winter I give extra corn), 1 part Milo, 2 parts Wheat, 2 parts oats (cleaned whole), and 1 part Turkey grower. And don’t forget some granite grit and some oyster shell as well. I do use soaked oats here and there but not everyday. A simple, well balanced diet is all a healthy well bred cock needs. Extra vitamins may be given during the keep. Vitamin K would be fine as a blood cogulant.


Most beginners spar too much; they can’t wait. If they spar stags too young and too often, they can ruin them. Stags have to mature properly. Sparring cocks too much will take awy their reserve strength, which they may need in a long fight. Don’t spar stags until you are ready to fight them. Before you put them in the preconditioning fly pens, give them two or three short pittings. If they start off fast and hitting hard, one or two pittings are enough – and only one or two flies each. They can easily hurt each other with muffs. The first time you spar stags, pit them three feet apart. This makes them start faster and not cut their wings at each other which they may do when set further apart. At the next pitting, place them further apart. That’s all the sparring until they come out of the preconditioning pens for the final pointing.


The natural way to point a cock is by sparring. He uses his feet the way he was born to. When a cock or stag is sparred, he begins to go on point. That’s another reason why too much sparring is bad. He will go over his peak and go sour. One week before the fight, select the best preconditioned cocks or stags and sapr them. Spar as described above. Use your own judgement and remember, they can hurt each other badly even with muffs on. Four days before the fight, spar again. One pitting only, and no more than two flies. The last week, handle and pet ten or fiftenn minutes each day except the day before the fight. Let them rest. The morning of fight day, check all their croips. If any have not passed their feed, do not fight. It means he went over his peak and is going sour. If he doesn’t pass the feed in two days, he is probably crop bound. Treat them for crop bound like you would normaly.

The cocks and stags on fight day should be nice and tame and at their peak. I am sure you will find that your feathered warriors conditioned by this natural method will win more fights coming from behind, and more fights in one or two pittings, than any other method you may try.


This is a little trick I was taught by an old friend that helps my cocks and stags who never been to the pit for a fight. I will put some cocks and stags in carrying cases, load them up, and drive them around in the country for a bit. Start out drv9ng for like 10 to 15 mintues and will gradually increase the amount of time I drive around. After the amount of time gets up to about the same time required to drive to the pit, I will put cocks and stags I am going to fight in the carrying cases and take them to the pits. I’ll put them on the scale and weigh them just like I would if I was going to fight them. Instead of getting the leg band put on, I’ll tell them not to for I might hack him. Then I’ll put him back in the carrying case and take him home with out fighting him. This way he gets the feel of being weighed and he will be more comfortable when I bring him back for the real deal. Bringing them to the pit will also get them accustomed to the sights and noises of the pit as well. Food for thought.



1. Feeding During The KEEP:    “Page have been removed”

Let me reveal to you what some cockers call “secrets” in conditioning of gamecocks for the pit. For starters, let us talk about feeding.

Some cockers say that the secret in the proper conditioning of gamecocks is feeding. It is undeniable that feeding plays a very important role in conditioning, but let us bear in mind that feeding should be considered in relation to other factors, a trainer must monitor while preparing his set of feathered warriors. With due respect to other trainers, please consider that what I am about to say here is only what I personally do.

First of all, before going into a “14 days KEEP”, we must select candidates. If you are to fight a 5-cock derby, simply multiply the number of cocks for an entry (say, 5) by three (3) to come up with the number of candidates you must choose (thus, 15). It is assumed that these cocks went through a pre-conditioning process where they are in good flesh, healthy and full breasted, but without gut fat. It is best that they are about 200 grams higher than their best fighting weight observed during the pre-conditioning. It is better to lower a cock’s weight during the KEEP rather than to increase it, which will take a lot more time, effort and uncertainty. Remember that we will do a 14-days KEEP, not 21 or 30.

Now, “what is the correct fighting weight?” you may ask. The best fighting weight is that weight where your cock fought best during the spars conducted while he is in the pre-conditioning. In the pre-conditioning stage, record each cock’s weight before every spar. Grade his fight according to your preference. He might be good, very good, excellent or neutral during these sparring sessions. In at least five (5) sparrings, you must be able to know his best fighting weight. Consider the weight where he fought best as his best fighting weight.

Give your candidates only bread soaked in milk as flushing feed on the day of your selection. Deworm them the usual way, and delouse by simply spraying on the feathers. Do not deep the cocks in water. Now they are all cleaned up, inside and out.

To avoid disease and other infections during the KEEP, I inject Combiotic (only 1cc. per bird) on the breast of each cock on the first day.

For the feeds during the KEEP, I try to maintain a 16% crude protein (C.P.) level from day one up to the eleventh (1-11). To achieve this, mix several ingredients as follows:

  • 50% – whole corn
  • 20% – red wheat
  • 10% – whole oats or jockey      oats
  • 10% – Royal Pigeon Feed
  • 10% – Pellets (16% C.P.)

Corn is the staple food of fowl which supplies a lot of carbohydrates and some proteins. I use red wheat instead of the white one because red wheat is easier to digest, and it has a higher protein level than the white. If you can’t find Royal Pigeon Feed, you may substitute this with 5% green peas and 5% yellow peas in the ration. These feedstuffs supply most of the proteins in the cock’s diet. The 10% Pellets indicated above may be Holding Ration Pellets or simply Pigeon Pellets. Just make sure that the pellets you use contain 16% crude protein. Look at the packaging for this information. The above proportions are measured in dry weight.

All grains are soaked in water for at least 9 hours. Right after each feeding, soak the grains you will need for the next. Soaking increases seed moisture and stimulates germination. Germinated grains produce more proteins. Legumes, like green peas and soybeans, must be heated or germinated to make their crude protein metabolizable. Otherwise, we cannot utilized the proteins from these grains. Mix the grains with the pellets only at feeding time. You now have what is called your base feed.

To this base feed, add some white of hard boiled eggs. Chop finely one (1) white of a hard boiled egg for every four or five cocks. This supplies some proteins and help retain moisture inside the cock’s body during this time. Hard boiled egg is given to the cocks all throughout the KEEP (day 1 to 14).

Aside from hard boiled eggs, add bulk (fiber), and natural vitamins and minerals to your feed by mixing finely chopped tomatoes or cabbage or lettuce. These veggies should make up 20% of your feed mixture, while the other 80% is from the base feed with hard boiled eggs. We use volume measurements now, instead of weights. If we take one (1) tablespoon as 20%, then we can mix (1) heaping tablespoons of veggies to four (4) heaping tablespoons of the base feed to make a hundred percent (100%). This will be the final make up of your feed from day 1 to 11.

Provide the cocks a steady supply of grits from day 1 to 9 of the KEEP. Grits help the cocks digest the feed and keep the gizzard well-exercised. They remain in the gizzard for about a week. Thus, grits are withheld 5 days before the fight to empty the gizzard not only of feeds, but also grits, on fight day.

Feed the cocks on a regular basis. Always feed on the same exact time everyday. I give my morning feed at 7 a.m. and the afternoon feed at 4 p.m. Give each cock two (2) heaping tablespoons of the feed mixture mentioned above. This is about 30 to 40 grams of feed per cock. During the day, the cocks should be crop empty by 2 or 3 p.m. to show that their digestive systems functions well. It takes only six (6) to seven (7) hours for feeds to be digested in the body of the fowl. If one becomes crop-bound before the afternoon feed, take him out of the KEEP.

I like cocks which are voracious eaters and fast grinders. These show that their system is really at work. Picky cocks or those which leave feeds in their cups must be experiencing something unpleasant. They must be observed and treated for any disease, and sent back to pre-conditioning. Try always to observe the cocks in KEEP before, during and after feeding. If possible, observe them the whole day, everyday, and even during their sleep.

With this feeding system, we expect the cocks to loose that extra 200 grams off their weight in the beginning of the KEEP. Therefore, daily monitoring of weights is necessary. Weigh the cocks in the morning before feeding. A cock should lower his weight by as much as ten (10) to twenty (20) grams per day and arrive at his best fighting weight on the 11th day of the KEEP or on the last three (3) days before fight day. If one loses 50 or more grams within a span of 24 hours, the cock must be sick or incapable of bearing stress in the KEEP. Back to the pre-conditioning he goes. Three (3) days before the fight, we do the Carbo-Loading Technique.

2. Carbo – Loading Technique:

Carbohydrates is the main source of energy for cocks in training. Like human athletes getting ready for competition, the gamecock must store enough energy in his body to be used during the fight for his life. The critical days in conditioning which are the last three (3) days before the fight, finds the trainer wanting to load up his gamecock with as much energy as possible to give him that power he will need. This is done by “Carbo-Loading”.

Simply put, “Carbo-Loading” means the technique of increasing or “loading up” of carbohydrates in the diet of gamecocks during the last three (3) days of the Keep as a part of “pointing”.

The objective here is to increase the available Metabolizable Energy (M.E.) in the cock’s body that will be used during the actual fight. This is achieved by increasing the caloric content of the feeds given to the fowl. From the 16% crude protein base feed we have given from the first to the 11th day of the Keep, we gradually increase the amount of carbohydrates to 75% or 80% in the last 3 days. Gradually, so as not to upset the digestive system of the cocks.

To the base feed, for every 100 grams, add 10% corn, or an equivalent of 10 grams of corn on the 12th day, 20 grams on the 13th day, and 30 grams on the 14th, for a total of 80% corn in the ration on the 14th day. Thus, the total amount of protein decreases, while carbohydrates increases. The usual amount of two (2) tablespoonful of feed is given to the cocks daily, morning and afternoon.

Why use corn? First of all, feeding corn gives your gamecock that “snap” every time he hits his opponent. Just compare cocks fed with corn to those which are not. Gamecocks that have corn in their diet feel more fleshy or muscular although a bit heavier, while cocks with no corn feel loose to the touch.

Corn is my choice for carbo-loading because corn has the high amounts of carbohydrates (metabolized energy) compared to other feedstuff. The table below shows the amount of nutrients available from common feed ingredients found in grains used as conditioning feeds. We can see that oat groats (dehulled) has the highest metabolized energy (3400 Kilo calories) followed by corn with 3366 Kcal. However, oat groats is also high in crude fats. This will tend to bring about “sapola” or gut fat in the cock. Experience also tells me that feeding more oat groats turn the droppings very green and take away that “snap” from the cock’s buckles. Thus I prefer corn which also has high metabolized energy, but low in fats. This metabolized energy is stored in the body of the fowl for at least 2 days before it is transformed into fats if not used during this time.

On the last 3 days before the fight, soaking of the grains is usually regulated. Moisture in the body of the cock is dictated by various conditions, both of the cock, and his environment. Because of these, water intake is managed during the last three (3) days of the Keep.

Feedstuff Crude Metabolized Energy





Barley 11.5 1.9 2620
Corn 08.9 3.5 3366
Green Peas 22.0 1.0 2600
Oats (whole) 11.0 4.0 2550
Oat Groats 16.0 6.0 3400
Red Rice 07.3 1.7 2670
Sunflower Seed 42.0 2.3 1760
Wheat (trigo) 13.5 1.9 2620
Data derived from: The Merck Veterinary Manual, Seventh   Edition
3. Moisture and Water Management:

A gamecock’s body is at least 65% water. From this fact alone, we can see that water is really an important element in the proper conditioning of our fowl. Let’s dig deeper. Why are we so concerned about water and moisture, in the first place? To properly condition cocks, we have what we call their “peak”, meaning to say, they are “On Point” or in layman’s term, they are in their lowest possible weight, but still with their greatest strength or power. We can effect this through the correct management of moisture and water for the fowl.

Water specifically affects a gamecock in training in two ways: 1) as a supply of moisture needed by the body for normal bodily functions, and 2) as a temperature regulator. For digestion, water acts on the grains and pellets as a solvent and helps in fermentation. Feeds taken by the cocks during mealtime are stored in the crop where it undergoes fermentation. At this point, acids, proteins and carbohydrates are further enhanced before they are passed on to the gizzard for further digestion. Thus, whenever a cock gets crop-bound, we must do all we can to empty his crop of the fermented feeds lest he will die from the poisons these might produce. Without the right amount of water, proper digestion and fermentation of feeds will not take place and can endanger the life of your beloved fowl. So, keep a watchful eye on how you feed and water your gamecocks, specially while they are in training.

From day 1 to 11 in our conditioning program, water is always present before the cocks right after feeding. Moisture is also assured by soaking the grains overnight. However, on the 12th day, you as a conditioner/trainer must have what I call a clinical eye and be very careful is assessing the condition of each fowl. While observing your fowl, ask yourself the following questions: How much water does your cock consume or drink during the day? One way of doing this is to draw a line inside his feeding/drinking pot right on the first day of the Keep to remember the actual amount of water you put in each morning. By night fall, get that which remains of the water in the pot and measure it using a graduated beaker. By the tenth day, you can more or less predict how much water each cock will drink in a day. On the 12th day of the Keep, watch how much he drinks. Is the cock eating his usual amount of feeds? How does he respond to carbo-loading?

On the 12th day, we have started adjusting the carbohydrates content of the feeds, remember? If the cock has the right amount of moisture in his body by this time, he is suppose to eat the same amount of feeds he is accustomed to. How are his droppings? Are they watery, dry, or moist?

We gauge the fowl’s body moisture by observing their droppings. By moist, we mean, the droppings do not splatter when voided, but have the right texture and form when dropped. Try stepping on it lightly and if it sticks to your shoe, then it has the right moisture. Also, watch your cock as he defecate or move his bowels. If he is having a hard time passing his stool, he must be too dry. If he is too dry, he won’t cut. If he is too wet, he will be sluggish and won’t cut accurately. How is the weather? Is it cloudy day, sunny, warm, rainy or hot?

During hot summer months, the cock will certainly drink more water to regain lost moisture and at the same time to regulate his body temperature. A feverish cock will drink water more frequently, than a cock which has the right body temperature. Consequently, their droppings will be very watery.

The wind also makes the cocks dry. Although their temperature might be alright, loss of water through the skin and feathers is greatly affected by the wind or air current. You might not notice, but your cocks may already be too dry although they would rather stay on the roost because the wind is too cold.

During the rainy months, infections abound. These infections like CRD and Coryza make cocks feverish. Cocks might not show the clinical signs at first, but you will notice that they drink often not just to regain moisture but also to regulate body temperature. They are feverish. Get them out of the Keep.

The range of a cock’s body temperature during the Keep is between 38.5o to 39.5o Celsius. This is their normal body temperature. Use a rectal thermometer to measure your cock’s temperature. Finally, how does each cock feel to the touch? This is something no medical or scientific means to tell you. You have to have the feel for properly conditioned cocks. American cockers call this “corky”, maybe referring to the light feeling when you hold the cock in your hands.

When held, some cocks are full-bodied and heavy, and tight muscled. Some are thin, light and loose, while others are thin, heavy and tight. Still others are thin, heavy and loose. We are looking for a cock which is full-bodied but light and a bit loose. If they feel tight-muscled, they maybe muscle-bound. We don’t want this on fight day. Muscle-bound cocks have muscles still suffering from fatigue. When we say “loose”, we mean relaxed muscles. Properly toned muscles have that tension and looseness in them. Always check their weight through your record book. Your cock must be in his best fighting weight. On this 12th day, we are looking for loose muscles because for the next two (2) days we shall try to make the cocks tighter and dryer.

If your cocks have been properly conditioned, they will drink less water for the rest of the Keep. In case, on this 12th day, you find your fowl’s droppings watery, or too dry, you still have the 13th and 14th day to make adjustments.

4. Pointing and Troubleshooting:

The day, Fight Day, is the most critical day when fighting your gamecock. On this day, just hours before the actual fight, the cock’s condition must be at its peak. We achieve this through a procedure called Pointing.

Pointing is the process wherein the cock is made to be in his lowest possible weight, yet still with his greatest strength. Cocks in this condition are said to be at their “peak” or “On Point”. A cock coming to point must have glossy feathers, bright red face, moist droppings, red watery eyes, alert and relaxed, and with normal body temperature.

But before pointing your cock, I think some explanation about joining a derby is in order. Derbies are usually held in the evenings up to the early morning hours. In Bigtime Derbies, submission of weights is done a day before and the fight schedule comes out in the afternoon. For smalltime derbies, submission of weights is in the morning on fight day.

Morning, before submission of weights, before feeding, limber the cocks in folding scratch-pens and observe their droppings. Wait ’til a cock passes his stool before weighing him. From each cock’s weight, subtract 30-50 grams and submit this to the cockpit as the weights of your entries. Bad weight or weight 40 grams over your declared weight is fined during derbies. The cock loses weight during pointing and 30 grams is a more or less safe margin for this. For example, if your actual weight is 2.1 kg., subtract 30 grams from that, and declare 2.070 kg. as the weight of your entry, 2.110 kg. is your bad weight. On the time of fight, your cock will surely weigh less than 2.1 kg. because of pointing. Even if your cock does not lose weight during pointing, you are still in the allowable weight limit. Remember to calibrate your weighing scale to that of the cockpit’s where you will fight.

Time of fight is also important. A cock digests his normal feed in 6 to 8 hours and fully absorb the nutrients in another 4 to 6 hours. So, try to know your fight schedule to program your feeding time beforehand. If your fight is 6 p.m., count 6 to 8 hours backwards (about 12 noon) and feed your cock ½ his regular ration of pointing feed. By 6 p.m., he must be empty and On Point.

When pointing, it is better to under feed than to overfeed. Feel the cock’s crop and see that it has nothing in it. If a grain or two can be observed, feed less than ½ his normal ration. Empty crops don’t mean that the gizzard and other digestive organs are also empty. To be sure that no feed still exists in the cock’s body, feed less.

Now comes the essential part of pointing, moisture. Once in the cockpit, rest the cocks for at least 30 minutes before giving 3 to 5 dips of water. This will encourage bowel movement. As explained in previously, moisture can be gauged only by observing the cock’s droppings. There are four (4) stages or sequence of changes that occur with the cock’s droppings when we conduct pointing procedures. First is the usual moist and firm droppings which must be seen in the morning just before weighing the cock and after the last feeding. Next, when the cock has emptied his gut of the fibers and other waste materials from the feeds, you will observe what I call “cecal droppings”. This is the brown sticky smelly kind of droppings the cock pass from time to time during the Keep. But now, “cecal droppings” is an indication of emptying out of the intestines. You will also observe that some moist green droppings with white toppings still come out but are increasingly getting smaller. When the cock is really empty (from the crop to the large intestines), what I call “moisture droppings” will appear. These look like whitish mucus about two (2) inches in diameter. They become smaller as pointing progresses. The cock may be said to be On Point when the size of moisture droppings are as small as a twenty-five (25) centavo coin and a little bit sticky.

A peculiar movement I have observed with cocks On Point is what I call the “head knocking” syndrome. Coming to their peak, the cocks start to knock their heads (something like twitching as in a person with a tic). This must be observed while limbering prior to the actual fight. It is difficult to describe the movement in writing, but once you’ve seen this knocking movement, this is a sign that the cock is already in his peak. Another sign is when the pupil of the eyes start to dilate. But sometimes, this is not reliable.

These are all signs of being at their peak. Be careful not to overshoot their peak lest your cock will be “off”.

The “off syndrome” comes right after the peak. This means that they have already used up all the nutrients and energy available in their body, and hunger have started taking its toll. Some cockers aver that “off syndrome” is due to drug overdose, constipation or being coop-stale. Often, a drug overdosed cock will be listless. A constipated one will show no interest in fighting since he is preoccupied with his bowel movement and a coop-stale cock is sluggish and sleepy. But primarily, I think the real cause of the “off syndrome” is hunger. You might say that making the cock hungry is what we are doing during pointing. Yes, partly correct, since we withhold feeds, but remember that nutrients are still absorbed by the body even after the grains and other stuff are already digested. Once the nutrients are consumed, hunger will be coupled with lack of energy and essential nutrients which makes the situation very critical and harmful. In pointing, we want the cocks to be empty but not hungry. Thus, while limbering before the actual fight, a cock which is jittery, easily agitated, and crazy for food, is “off”. He has his mind on food, not on the fight.

To extend the point, you may feed a few grains of cracked corn or ¼ teaspoon of your pointing feed a few hours before limbering. To hasten the onset of the point, feed less in your last feeding. The point cannot be maintained once it sets in. It progresses, so time your pointing procedure well that the actual fight falls within the 4 to 6 hours that the peak period is in.

To avoid the “off syndrome”, know the right amount and correct administration of drugs you are using. Avoid constipation and coop-staleness by limbering often and checking your room temperature in case it is too cold. Feel the cock for any signs of fever. This is a sure indication of being “off” and sick. If too much moisture is noticed thru the droppings, give a few pellets or cracked corn to draw out body moisture. However, a cock which loses 70 grams or more on fight day must not be fought. He must be sick. If ever he gains weight while pointing (which I think will never happen), there is no cause for alarm if he is empty.

5. Exercises During The KEEP – The Rotation Method:

There are a thousand and one ways of training a gamecock. Different trainers have different styles and different procedures. In my years of cocking, I have looked up to local and foreign cocking greats whom I happened to meet and have acquainted myself with during those years. Meeting the likes of James Pope and Buddy Mann proved very informative and helpful in my personal quest for proper training of my gamecocks. For James Pope, sparring is the best exercise or training for roosters; for Buddy Mann, it is a combination of natural exercises and table work-outs. From them and from my personal experience, I share to you most of what I know about exercises during the Keep.

Since my first sparring session, I have noticed that every time a cock fights, he pants; he pants heavily specially during summer months; he also pants excessively when he has too much moisture in his body. Therefore, the main concern of a trainer during the Keep is to develop the cock’s coping mechanisms to lessen panting. Panting is a sign that the cock’s body system is stressed such that his heart beat increases to supply more oxygen to his organs. Respiration is naturally agitated. Exercises further enhance the cock’s coping mechanisms.

First of all, I would like to make it clear that training a gamecock really begins from the time he was hatched. Proper rearing and nutrition are, for the most part, the backbone of training. One cannot do much in a 21 or 14 day Keep, other than to keep the cocks alert, increase their stamina and tone the muscles. Power comes with breeding, and muscles are developed during the rearing stage and pre-conditioning. Training should help promote flexibility, strength, muscle toning, contouring and cardiovascular endurance. No amount of exertions can improve the constitution, circulatory and respiratory capabilities of sickly birds. So, start them while they are young and properly care for them while they grow.

During the Keep, a trainer aims to make the cocks always alert because this is precisely what they need during the battle. Agility, reflex and quick thinking is an asset in fights lasting, sometimes, for just a few seconds. You must avoid what we call “Boredom Disease Syndrome” where the animals mope, become listless and disinterested.

Another objective of doing exercises during the Keep is to tone the muscles of the cocks. Toning is different from muscle development as the latter is gained during the growing and pre-conditioning stages, while toning is simply working on what you already have. With toned muscles, the cocks are relaxed, not muscle-bound and never coop-stale.

There are several views regarding training exercises for fighting cocks. Most older cockers before, subscribe to the “manual” or table exercises which mean the trainer’s supervision and handling to exercise the cocks. This finds the necessity of various exercises like the “tailing”, flies, flips, turn-overs, etc. Other advocate the “natural” or not much human interference on the movements of cocks in training. This brought about the Rotation Method and the use of fly pens, and scratch boxes to exercise cocks. Both systems have their own advantages and disadvantages, and I feel a combination of both is necessary to exercise gamecocks properly.

The Rotation Method. Rotation here simply means the transfer of cocks from the cord, to the fly pen, to the scratch box, to the resting coops, then back to the cord or tee-pee. For this method, a trainer must have a fly-pen measuring 12′ in length, 4′ wide and 12′ high. If you could have pens with bigger dimensions, the better. There must be an adjustable roost which can be positioned 4, 6, or 8 feet above the ground. The litter floor is a mixture of horse manure, river sand, and garden soil. The loose texture of the ground cushions the cock’s landing and also encourage them to do some dusting.

The Scratch Box. The scratch box, on the other hand, is made of wood with the following dimensions: 3′ long, 3′ wide, and 3′ high. Make it high enough so that the wings are not obstructed when the cock flaps them. The box should have wooden floors to ensure proper extension of the legs when the rooster scratch with a full swing of the legs extending back. Scratch materials like corn shucks, banana leaves, or hay must be placed in the box. The box is intended for scratching, not dusting, so don’t put soil in it.

The Tee-pee. The tee-pee or cord area should be their sleeping grounds, and where they catch the morning dew and sun-bathe in the morning. Position your tee-pees facing East or where sunlight casts its rays in the morning.

The Coop. A special coop for resting is also needed when you do rotations. This
is a small coop measuring 2′ wide, 2′ long and 2′ tall. The cocks are brought here to rest during the day – a kind of a siesta place.

The rotation is done by transferring the cock from one pen to the other after spending some time in it. When transferring from one pen to the next, always wash the cock’s face and legs before placing him in the next pen. Use a mist sprayer with Vet Rx. This opens their lungs and improves their breathing. In the scratch box, encourage scratching by throwing in ½ teaspoon oat groats per bird. For the first day, place a little scratch materials and let the cock scratch for only five (5) minutes. On the second, increase the amount of scratch materials and increase the duration of scratching to 10 minutes. Increase the amount of the scratching materials and the duration of the scratching up to the 7th day where the materials are almost 6 inches deep and the duration of the exercise, 30 minutes long. Starting on the 8th day, decrease the amount of scratching materials and the duration of the exercise in such a way that you reach zero on the 12th day of the Keep.

There are different materials used as scratch for light and heavy exercises. I use banana leaves for light scratching done only during the summer months, and use corn schucks or sugar cane leaves for heavy scratching done only during the cold months. Hay can be classified as an in-between type of scratch material. You yourself must decide whether your cock needs light or heavy exercises and adjust accordingly.

Do the scratching exercise when the cock is hungry or else, you will never get the desired results. I place my cocks in scratch boxes as early as 4 in the morning when they start to feel their hunger coming in. After scratching, I pick him up, wash his face and feet, then return him to the tee-pee for sun and dew.

By 7 a.m., I feed the cocks their conditioning ration for the day. You may find a discussion on the conditioning feeds I prepare in the I. Feeding During The KEEP.

At 9 a.m. take the cocks from the cord, wash their faces and feet, and place each in their respective fly pens until noon.

At 12 noon, place them in the resting coops. This resting should not be more than 2 hours to prevent coop-staleness.

By 2 p.m. get a pair of the rested cocks and do a little short sparring, only allow them two buckles while holding on to their tails. After that place the cocks again on cord while they await feeding. During the night, we do the table workouts.


Conditioning Aids

by Mike Strecker
(Taken from the Grit & Steel Nov. 1982)

There has been much discussion lately in the magazines on whether the use of conditioning aids are essential in the conditioning of a rooster. When I am asked this question, my answer is no-not if your fowl are receiving an adequate diet.

But what constitutes an adequate diet for a two year old cock that is spending a good portion of his day scratching in deep straw, and being exercised on the work bench? Lets take a look at the recommended nutrient levels for a rooster in the above mentioned situation.

First, his daily intake of protein should be at least 18 percent. To give a simple explanation; each hundred pound of feed must contain eighteen pounds of digestible protein. This brings to mind a situation that happened a few years back. I bought a bag of 20 percent Protein Pellets at a local feed store. The pellets looked and smelled old so I took a sample to a local college to be analyzed. The protein content of these pellets were analyzed at 9 percent, the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,& E) were almost nonexistent in this sample.

Now I do not give you this example to lead you to believe that all bags of pellets you buy are deficient. However, I am saying that conditions such as heat, cold, storage time, etc. will affect and reduce the protein and vitamin content of the feed.

Getting back to what a rooster needs in his daily ration to maintain top physical condition while in the keep. In addition to 18 percent protein, he needs vitamins and minerals. Will list a few of the more important ones with the recommended levels. Each pound of feed should contain:
5,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin A
500 IU of vitamin D
7.5 IU of vitamin E
one IU of vitamin K
6 milligrams of vitamin B-12, etc.

In addition, the feed must contain Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, etc. The food substances of importance in the nutrition of all your chickens are:
1.) Proteins
2.) Carbohydrates
3.) Fats
4.) Vitamins
5.) Minerals
6.) Water

Are conditioning aid necessary? If your fowls diet is, sufficient in the above listed nutrients, then no, they definitely do not need ant supplements.

It is my opinion that the perfect diet is impossible to obtain. Let me give you just one example of why I say this. Hard to Eastern wheat is 13.5 percent crude protein, where soft of Western wheat is 10.8 percent. Oats from the Midwest states are 11.8 percent crude protein, where the oats grown in the pacific coast states are 9 percent. This is the type of variables one would have to be aware of to formulate the prefect diet.

It is not the intent of this article to confirm nor deny that conditioning aids are required and essential. It is to inform you of some basic nutritional requirements or poultry, the decision to use or not to use conditioning aids is entirely up to the individual. However, I will say that through the years I have tried and/or seen the results of most all the conditioning aids advertised in the magazines and they, in my opinion, are all exceptional.

While we are on the subject of condition, it is very important for everyone to understand that each rooster or hen is an individual and each is different in one way or another. So, if you use a conditioning aids, the instructions for use are really just guidelines, no set of instructions can work exactly the same on each bird. For example: some birds are very active, they are scratching and moving all day long. This type of bird naturally needs more feed because he is expending much more energy than a lazy bird that sits on his roost half the day.

As I said before, all the keeps and conditioning aids are very good. But they cannot replace common sense. For example: if your bird is “coming on” too soon, then you must cut back on what you have been giving him for a few days, if he is not “coming on” fast enough you must increase. If there was a fool proof, cut and dried method of conditioning all chickens then the score board would read all draws!

As a closing thought, I would like to say that more roosters have been beaten on the work bench than are ever whipped in the pit!


Training Cocks/Stags

Posted by DocMoll on www.cockfightsonline Forum.   ”Link Does Not Work Now“

Now this is what works for me. Some will not agree with my methods. So with that said, A cock/stag must be trained. You cannot do this in pens or on a tie cord. They are great for getting them in shape, But that’s it.

Training a cock

First off you must train your cock/stag for the weapon you are going to be using. I am a gaff man, so I only train for the gaff.

1.) I want a bird to break, Now I don’t mean 5 foot in the air. I want him to cross the pit fast as he can. So how do we do this? First when sparing, bill them up and drop them about 2 foot apart. Let them hit, and pick them up. Do not let them roll around for a long time. Remember you are teaching them to break. Just let them hit one or two times. After the first drop wait about 30 seconds and drop them about 3 feet apart and remember to just let them hit one or two times. Then move to 4 feet and so on. I think you get my point.

Now you still will have some that doesn’t want to break very well. When I get one that does this I hold him on the ground by his legs and turn a very aggressive cock lose on him. He can’t fight and gets beat on pretty bad, ( So he is good and mad ) Now after this is done, keeping him focused on the other cock. Rest him for 30 seconds, Then pit him with the other cock. After a few times of this he should get the idea. If I can’t get one to break, HE IS GONE. A cock/stag must break in todies competition.

2.) A cock/stag must hit from all angles, not just head on. So the way you train them to do this is take a dummy cock. Tie his wings together so he can’t flap them. Also tie his legs together so he can’t move around. Take him to the cock/stag and put him down back wards, sideways, upside down, etc. This will get them to hitting at another cock/stag from all angles. It will also get them to hit down cocks/stags more aggressively. It seems curl but it is very affective.

Number 1 and 2 should be done before entering the main keep.

3.) A cock/stag should know how to get off of his back in the pit. The longer he lays on his back the faster his lung fill with fluids in a fight. So you need to teach them how to do this as it is unnatural for them to be in this possession. Lay him on his back and see if he rows over to get back on his feet. Some will do it right off and some won’t. So take and give him a little push from the left or right side. He will figure it out pretty quick. I do this through out the main keep.

4.) You should not spar cock/stags for a long period of time. 1 minute is long enough. Never spar them for long period of time in the main keep. As it takes time to recover. Now think about it, Example: You go out tonight and pick a fight with someone in a bar and roll around with him for a while. I mean beat the hell out of each other. See how long it takes you to get over the soreness, stiffness, and the little aches and pains.

This is just a few tip for you. Some may think my ways are crazy, But I know they work. Having a cock/stag in great shape is great, But they better know what to do with it.




by The Coach

A. Check opponents gaffs for flats (sharp as a razor, usually on the right leg).

B. Check opponents weight and band number to make sure you are meeting the right cock, especially on your money fight.

C. Bill cock on the side you choose. Get there early before derby starts and check pit for the hard, high side. Check drag pit for best side out of drafts and on good ground. Get to the drag first.

D. Position yourself as close as the referee will allow so you will be able to get to your cock quickly when handle is called.

E. Use the count. You should ask for it only when you deserve it.

F. If your cock is ahead, count each time you hit a blow that may hang, so you can come right back, not allowing his cock to rest. If his cock is on his back, don’t count, let your cock continue to hit. Let him stay on the cold ground and out of your opponents hands. If your cock does not continue to hit, ask for the count so your cock won’t lose interest in the fight.

G. Always hold your cock above his opponent looking at him and turn away only when you want your cock to rest.

H. Don’t ever give up on your cock or your ability to out-handle your opponent. If you don’t know the rules, read and study them (you can read them HERE ) and use them to your advantage.

I. Don’t argue with the referee, let the crowd do that.

J. Have your friend watch your opponent, he may take a piece of gum or cough drop out of his pocket, call it to the attention of the referee before he spits in his cock’s mouth. Watch for the sponge trick. They will put some Black Leaf 40 on a sponge and rub it on their cock and your cock may quit.


Pointing Fowl and Holding Them on Point


The “sharpness” that a cock experiences when he comes on point is a natural process that occurs almost daily in cock’s life. As the cock becomes gut empty and his moisture level decreases, he will begin to come sharp. To try to force this to happen, using stimulants and drugs, will throw many fowl completely off. The secret to this is to know how to have the fowl come sharp when you want them to, then to hold them at or close to this level of sharpness for the duration of the derby. Sounds complicated but it really isn’t.
Depending on the amount, make-up, and moisture intake, complete digestion will occur 4 – 72 hours after a cock eats. The softer the food source and the greater the moisture content, the quicker it will digest. The drier the feed, the more heavy husks in the feed (such as whole oats or whole sunflower seeds), and the less moisture a cock is given, the longer it will ake him to digest the food, thus the longer it will take him to come sharp. Moisture is needed for digestion. Moisture can either be given in the form of drinking water or in the moisture content of the feed. With the misunderstandings in so many keeps, many cockers will take the water from the fowl 3 days before fight day, then wonder why the fowl aren’t passing their feed. THEY ARE CONSTIPATED and can’t pass the feed. I feed a moist feed the last 3 days of the keep and reduce the amount each day until fight day. In weather less than 75 degrees, I use a mix of 1 cup of cracked corn, 2 bananas, 1 apple, 4 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar and 4 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon. If it has been dry, I soak the corn overnight in water. In weather hotter than 80 degrees, I use instant brown rice, instant white rice, and instant oatmeal in place of the corn. Bring to a boil 3 cups of water and 3 cups of condensed milk. Pour this over the uncooked grains and allow it to soak up all the moisture. Allow to cool then keep in the refrigerator when not being used. Add 4 bananas, 2 apples, 4 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar and 4 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon to this mix before feeding it to the cocks. With this feed mix, the fowl will completely pass it within 12 hours of feeding, if they aren’t traveled far.
To keep fowl at a level of sharpness requires moisture, and sugars. This is why I use banana. It is almost all moisture, is full of simple sugars and potassium and will keep the bile in the digestive system from souring and making the cock go “over”. I cut banana in 1/2 inch thick slicesm then divide each slice into 3 pieces. Once the cock comes sharp, I drop him out every 30 minutes. I also feed him the 1/3 of a 1/2 inch thick slice of banana every hour to keep him sharp. It works wonderful and there is no side effects that you WILL get from the other stimulants on the market. It is all natural and will not effect your fowl’s ability. The brown sugar provides a quick reserve energy source, the cinnamon is the best blood clotting agent I’ve ever found, and the potassium in the banana will help prevent fatigue cramps during battle.





Several people have asked me over the years to post my keep (here you go GFF) so here it is:

I use a three week keep. The first week is nothing but getting the birds used to keep stalls, being handled and get them in peak condition for the second (work) week.

I start out by trimming spurs, delousing and worming. I give no morning feed the first morning and that evening I blow them out with a tablespoon of bread soaked in milk. After that I feed 1 ½ to 2 ounces of 17-18% racing pigeon feed in the morning. In the evening I feed one rounded tablespoon of Purina Puppy chow, soaked in buttermilk until soft. This will keep them fresh and build up the breast. If possible, keep them on ropes on green grass this week. If not, soak rabbit pellets and mix with the Puppy Chow. Rabbit pellets are nearly all alfalfa and will benefit your birds greatly, particularly if they have been pen raised with no grass.

To increase the birds weight, feed more Puppy Chow in the evening, to decrease their weight, cut it down.

The second week I feed a different feed morning and evening. For the morning feed, boil 2 lbs. of racing pigeon feed for 20 minutes in a pot with a lid on it. In a separate pot, boil 8 oz of raisins for 20 minutes. Let both stand for five minutes, drain and mix together and store in refrigerator in a sealed container. You’ll feed 1 ½ to 2 ounces in the scratch litter (preferably corn shucks) every morning. Before the evening feed make sure the birds are EMPTY, if not decrease the amount fed to that bird the next day.

For the evening feed, put 1 cup of rice (half white, half brown), 2 cups of popcorn and 4 cups of water in a pot, boil 20 minutes covered, and let stand five minutes. It should soak up all the water. In another pot, put 1 cup raisins, 1 ½ cup oatmeal and 5 cups of water. Boil ten minutes, stirring it to keep from scorching. Let stand 5 minutes and add 2 cups Purina Puppy Chow, one 8 ounce can of Vanilla Ensure (high protein) and 35 rabbit pellets. Add three heaping tablespoons of parakeet grit. Mix all ingredients together and store in sealed container in the fridge. When you feed this, add a little Ensure to moisten. Feed all that the bird will throw every evening! It’s usually between 2 ½ to 3 ½ oz. every evening, it all depends on the bird. One word of caution-monitor the amount he throws and feed him CORRECTLY or he will lose weight on this QUICKLY!

As for work, I only work in the evening. I fly them to the bench by tailing them. I start out with ten flys and increase it by five a day. You’ll find the occasional bird that refuses to be tailed, in that case I flip them the same number of times. I rotate the birds between flypens and eight foot ropes daily, always making sure they go to different pens, ropes, etc. with a different bird beside them. This keeps them active and working.

I maintain this feed and work routine until three days before fight time. Give them ALL the water they can drink!

My last three days feed is 1 cup of rice (again half and half)3 cups of cracked popcorn and 4 cups of water. Put in pot, bring to a full boil, take off heat immediately and drain. Boil 1 cup raisins for 10 minutes, drain and add to above ingredients.

I black my birds out in stalls for the last three days in stalls. I give NO water! Instead I feed 2 oz. of above feed in cups morning and evening with 2 tablespoons of Ensure over it. The Ensure will help the birds regulate their moisture irregardless of the weather conditions.

You’ll have to experiment with the blackout time-some birds flat cannot stand being blacked out that long! Mine can but I discovered that by trial and error.

Last feed is 2 ½ oz of the three day keep feed with 2 tablespoons with Ensure over it. Next morning (fight day) take them out and dump them. Check their crop, if empty, give them a peck of the three day feed mixed with salt free (dietetic) tomato juice to keep their energy level up. If they have a few grains of feed in their crop, don’t panic, dump them at the pit until you are satisfied with them.

I also give 1/4cc of 1000 mcg of B-12 36 hours before fight time. The next day they will act sleepy but look out come fight day-you’ll have a hard time holding on to them!

At the pit, I dump them every thirty minutes until I’m satisfied they are empty, then black them out until the first fight is called. After that the light stays on and I dump them hourly to monitor moisture. If they appear to be drying out too quickly, I give them a peck of the keep feed-tomato juice mix.

After the first bird fights I give them a tiny peck of apple hourly to keep them from going over and ALERT. Once you start, do it religiously EVERY hour!

There is nothing easy or cheap about this keep, but if you have better than average birds but still can’t seem to put the W’s on the board, try it. You’ll LOVE it! YFIS



Proper Conditioning of a Gamefowl

Wilfredo Rodrigo 4:15 PM

This article is written by Zac Mattingly, a US resident and the owner of Gamefowl Journal (FB Group)

I’ll be doing a few articles on conditioning. I’ll write this with the intent of helping beginners. Some of this may seem very elementary, but I will start with the basics, as if the readers are just getting started. I’ll start this where the conditioning starts, and that is health, and nutrition. Without health and nutrition, everything else is for nothing.

The whole idea of conditioning, is to bring a rooster to his absolute highest potential. A rooster, that is poorly cared for, will never, and can never reach his true potential. Health and nutrition start from day 1, however, I feel that the readers want to get to the good stuff, so I will save the hatching, brooding, and raising part of this subject for another day. I’ll start this at about the time you will be selecting your fowl for conditioning.

At this point you want to have your fowl on a good maintenance feed, of about 12-16% crude protein. Your feed mixture needs to be adjusted to your fowl, your yard, and your environment. Fowl that are kept on long tie cords, on green grass, do not have the same requirements as fowl that are kept in pens, and even then, fowl kept in movable pens, that are on fresh ground, and green grass, don’t have the same requirements as fowl kept in a pen on sand, that is never moved. Fowl raised in Arizona, will have different requirements than fowl raised in Maine.

Most places you can find a gamecock mix, that will include a combination of different grains, and pellets. If not, a good breeder pellet, or at the least a layer pellet, and scratch feed can be mixed with good results. A breeder pellet is normally 18-28% protein, and contain more vitamins, and minerals. It is formulated to give fowl enough nutrients to pass on to their offspring through he egg. Layer pellets are normally 15-16% protein, and are intended to give enough nutrients to just lay eggs for eating. Also there is more to consider than just the protein percentage, protein percentage does not dictate the quality of the feed.

Normally gamefowl do well on 3 to 4 ounce of feed per day. Of course fowl that are more active are going to require more feed to maintain their weight, and lazy fowl are going to need less. A little common sense here goes a long way. If they are getting too heavy, or fat, feed less. If they are staying a little thin, feed more. If they are being picky, and not eating all of their feed, don’t feed them the next day, and the following day only feed them half. A good healthy game rooster should have his feed cleaned up in about 5 minutes or so. A good appetite is a sign of good health. Do not…. DO NOT feed so much, that there is feed left on the ground. That is one of the worst things you can do. That is asking for disease, sick fowl, and rodents, which bring with them more disease and parasites.

Your fowl should always have plenty of clean water at all times. If you have too many to keep all your water bowls clean, and full of water, you should cut back some. It is good practice to clean all of your water bowls regularly with bleach. Don’t worry about rinsing them real well after, that little bit of bleach won’t hurt a thing, in fact many people keep a little bleach in the water all year. It helps keep disease from forming, or spreading, and helps the bowl stay clean. Once a month bleaching is good for a good size farm. If you just have a handful, you can do it weekly.

All fowl on your yard should be free of parasites (Worms, lice, and mites.) Not just the ones you plan to conditioning, but every hen, pullet, stag, cock and chick. Your environment will determine how often you need to treat to prevent parasites. Some can get away with treating 3 or 4 times a year, but most common is monthly, to every 6 weeks. I won’t get too much onto dewormers in this article. I’ll just add that is a good idea to rotate different types of dewormer, to cover different types of worms, and to reduce the chance of them building resistance.

They should be in good flesh, but not fat. You should maintain the weight, and shape of your fowl at all times. You want them to have a nice body, but not be over weight. Its hard to describe how a rooster should feel, and it varies from family to family. Some have more of a round full body type, and others a more narrow build. Their body should feel some what firm, and solid, but not tight and drawn up. Gut fat on a rooster, is one of the top reasons for poor performance. Gut fat is one of those things that many people think they know about, but they really only know of it.

They don’t know how to feel for it, don’t know how to remove it, their roosters will be carrying excess weight because of it. I guess first I’ll try to explain how to feel for it. You’ll hold the rooster in your left arm, facing left, with your left hand running under the breast toward the tail bones. Using your right hand, you’ll hold the roosters right leg and wing. Between where the breast bone ends, and the tail bones are, is where you can feel this fat with your left hand. Using your thumb and index and middle finger, you can kind of pinch up in this area. Don’t be afraid to get up in there, you won’t hurt him. A rooster with no fat, you’ll literally be able to feel the skin on both sides, with a small band in between, which is his guts. Most of the time there will b a little, to a lot of excess in this area. If its not skin or guts, its fat. Cocks can have from 2-3 ounces, to as much as 10 ounces or more of fat in the gut area.

Now located, and recognizing the fat is the easy part. Removing this fat, without stress, or hurting the rooster is the hard part. The first, and easiest way, if to handle and feel your roosters often. Adjust your feed if they are gaining too much weight or fat. Now assuming you have roosters that are already fat, and you need to cut the fat off of them, it is a slow process. You need to soften the fat first, so they can work it off. Adding about 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar to a gallon of drinking water is a good start. It has no negative effect, and you can run it as long as you need to.

Another thing you can do is feed canned tomatoes after you feed in the evenings. You can feed a tablespoon a day, and even soak their feed in the juice. Once you get it softened, and loosened up, you can start working it off, by rotating them into pens for them to scratch for exercise. You have to be careful here, they can scratch off their breast, if you let them. 3-4 inches of litter is plenty. Rotating them once to 3 time a day, will keep them active and working.

Once you get the fat off them, you’ll have to monitor closely, and adjust your feed accordingly. I’ll just bluntly say most people over feed their fowl. Your roosters should be handled and moved regularly, fowl that are stale, or bored, are not going to be mentally correct. A good routine for a good size farm, is to handle, rotate, deworm, bleach water bowls, and check and spray/dust for lice and mites monthly. People with smaller chicken yards, of course, can handle and rotate more often.

Facilities don’t have to be extravagant, or expensive, but you can’t keep healthy cocks in small muddy pens. A few good tiecords on grass is in my opinion, the best place for a gamecock to live. The freedom he feels while on a tiecord can not be replicated in a pen. The cords can be 4 feet to 8 feet long. I prefer about 7 feet myself, especially for cocks that are being conditioned, or preparing to be conditioned. Any shorter than 4 feet, and they don’t have as much territory to call their own. Any longer than 8 feet, and they have more chance of getting tangled. You want to have some sort of shelter for them while on cords. The 2 common ones being an A shaped “teepee”, or a plastic barrel with a cut out big enough in the side for the cocks to get inside, when its raining. They will normally roost, and sleep on top, unless the weather is bad.

A useful pen to have, is a flypen. A flypen can be from 3 to 5 feet wide,6 to 10 feet long, and 8 or 10 feet tall. With roosts being 4 feet to 6 feet or more high. I personally personally prefer 4 to 6 feet high myself. They will fly to the roost more at this height, than at 8 feet. I feel that a rooster flying up to 5 feet 30 times a day, is better than one flying up to 8 feet 5 times a day. Also take into consideration the landing. If the pen is not really long, and he jumps down from 8 feet, he is going to land pretty hard, and that hard landing, is bad for their knees and feet. The idea of a flypen is to influence the cocks to fly up and down, to a roost, and build their wing muscle, and improve their balance. Some opt to also add litter for the fowl to scratch in the flypens, others use a specific pen for scratching, normally being 4 feet by 4 feet. Litter could be leaves, straw, pine needles, corn shucks, or possibly the best…. horse manure cleaned from the stalls of a horse barn. Flypens are especially good for keeping cocks in when the weather is very bad. While in a pen, or on tiecord, be sure they have access to shelter from the sun, rain, snow, wind ect… And of course access to clean cool water at all times.              If your fowl have any disease, illness, cold…ect… They are not ready to put up for conditioning, and will not be ready until they are cured of the problem, and their body has time to recover. (If you want to get in touch with Zac, add him on Facebook or e-mail him on



Hugh Norman Keep

by Hugh Norman


Health can not be over stressed as it is the basis of most everything that is expected or even demanded of a cock. The apparent health of a cock is what any reasonably experienced chicken man can detect, but there is even more that the eye can see for complete health. It is so necessary to know the life history of the individual cock but sometimes this is impossible and in most cases impossible. Let us suppose that you walked the cock and at one time during his walk life he became starved, listless, anemic and in poor health in general, but when you picked him up in the fall he has had access to fall maturing seed and water from the fall rains, hence he strikes the eye as being healthy. A healthy cock is the cock with a high blood count which is indicated by heavy pimples on his head and face. These appear to be the skin of a rich, ripe, lush strawberry. His head is a rich true red like blood itself. This comes as a result of complete coordination of all that is inside a cock. The flesh of a healthy cock is firm yet pliable, never hard, never flabby or or weak feeling. The skin of a healthy cock is a true greasy yellow or slick white, which ever the breed portrays. Now, in a brief way we have gone from the inside of a cock to the part which meets the eyes, and this is his feathers. Now let us reverse this.

If a cock is not in full bloom and does not have live moving feathers which seem to slide on his shoulders and shed your hand when you rub him, he is to be discarded for some later date. Just a word of caution; if the humidity is high just before a rain, even a cock that is not real healthy will shine and deceive you. This cock must be observed several days. The moleskin look and feel is absolutely necessary. When the feathers are as we have discussed, then the skin is healthy, the flesh is healthy, the organs are healthy, hence a cock is at this moment healthy enough to begin training.

Now since we have an apparently healthy cock, let us see if he has always been so. How can we tell? If this cock is narrow and apparently weak or poorly made, he probably is one of those birds which has barely existed through the summer or he has been penned too long as a stag. If he has apparent health but his spurs appear as a stag’s spurs, his flesh on his thighs short fleshed and his breast lightly filled, yet his vent and gizzard are heavy with flesh, he is one which has not had proper care and is a bad risk in good competition.

Upon examining a cock’s skin and feathers.if the skin is flakey and of poor texture and there are cut feathers which show cuts through the silk of the feather, a few poorly made feathers, it is a sure sign that this cock’s health and environment have been poor and should be considered carefully. It seems a bit needless to say but if a cock behaves peculiarly in any manner, has an odor of any kind, an off shade in his complexion, a peculiar crow or cackle or behaves differently to the strain, he is not a perfect cock in health. Excess in appetite or insufficient appetite for food or drink is a sign of questionable health. It is a real word of wisdom that when you can detect anything at all wrong with a cock, there is for sure much more than you can see with the eye.

Gameness is a point of consideration as this is the element which will determine how sincere a cock will be in the way he tries to do what you have trained him to do. It has often been said with wisdom that a cock does not hit with is feet, he hits with his heart. This is just, of course, a figure of speech but there is truth in it. A cock will indicate his gameness by how he tries to annihilate an opponent. If he is strong yet makes a weak and feeble effort, he is poorly trained or short on gameness, and it is the job of the trainer to determine which. Now as for a completely game strain, there may not be one, but it is the pit behavior that we are concerned about. If a cock claims, scores, strikes and gives you an honest effort under the pressure of battle, you should not worry about what he does beyond this since this answers all practical purposes. I do believe that a game cock will make an honest effort to annihilate an opponent every second that he is aware of his presence. And he will fight an uphill fight the same as when he is ahead. If one owns game cocks, he has a fair percentage of his fights won before he begins. It is a very good guess that high flying, defensive fighting, cocks which act wild and shy are not as game as the opposite type.


Conformation is a very controversial point, but performance has established a number of facts which must be reckoned with. To look at a cock from side view, if his head, neck, and back lines form an angle with the tail greater than 100 degrees, he is an oriental type no doubt. His tail is too low to the ground and if this open space between his head and tail is much less than 45 degrees, it is possible that he is squirrel tailed. Either of these is objectionable. His top silhouette must range between these two angles aforementioned. The legs must come out from the front position in relation to the whole body but not an oriental type of projection. If the legs are far back, cock pitches forward easily and if they are too far forward, a cock has a tendency to rock backwards. It must be a center of gravity position, considering the entire body a proned fighting position. A cock that is extremely wide through the back with massive legs and hips is usually a short bodied cock like roundheads, blues, etc. which have a poor confirmation and roll around in their fighting and lack power.

The cock that is shaped like your mother’s old preheated smoothing iron with the wider end forward is a power cock with balance which carries his power. The bird with heavy legs, broad back, heavy hips, thick coarse head, short quick curving front feathers in the wing, quick turning short tail, short strong thick neck, is a poorly conformed bird with poor pit prospects. After the basic consideration of body structure a cock must have a full lengthy strong quilled coat of feathers. When a cock lifts his legs to meet an opponent, he must have something to carry himself with and this is his wings which must be filled with good, tough, long, heavy-quilled feathers. When he looks as though you could pick him up from behind by the wings life wheelbarrow handles, then he has enough wing feathers. The tail, too, should be well-studded with good straight inside feathers, as this is a cock’s rudder and prop against aggression. There have been cocks that were too heavily feathered but usually it is just the opposite. Let us say this: Everything wihich resembles a long legged craine, a short pudgy dunghill chicken, a draft horse, a big dumb coarse football tackle or a big pudgy wrestler is poor conformation for a gamecock. Remember the falcon and hawk swift, manueverable, deadly and more powerful than any feathered opponent according to the weight.

Qualities of a Fighting Cock

Regardless if all the foregoing meets the standards, they are no good unless a cock can fight as this is the fruition of all our efforts. If the cock flips over the other cock a time or two and does not make a desperate effort to kill, he is lacking in pit qualities. This stroke for the kill should be a multiple stroke, a vicious shuffle or buckle as a single stroke cock is outmoded. If a cock feeds his head or his breast without an offensive stroke he is the cock that hits second and usually this cock loses his battle. It might be noted here that if a cock has a few first shots at an opponent and does not damage him considerably, he probably is lacking in cutting qualities.

The high-flying cock is usually a weak ground fighting cock and spends lots of energy maneuvering defensively and when the fight comes to a slugging ground fight, is at a loss to compete with the cock which stands on the ground, and pulls back with a watchfulness crushing into the opponent when he comes down. Too, it may be noted with importance that in a bill and strike fight, after five pittings, the cock which rises on another’s billhold is an elusive target. The cock that bills and strikes at the same instant, strikes without a billhold or strikes first is with real merit. It is real wisdom to watch what a cock does wrong rather than what he does right. The cock which strikes with devastating hardness involving short strokes which are delivered the instant of the opponent’s stroke or an instant before, is a cock of quality. The cock that chews on his opponent, always looking for a billhold and when he gets it rolls over the pit, shuffling until exhausted, is a perfect target for a multiple stroke clever cock. The game cock which has all the looks, health and eye appeal is worthless as a pit cock unless he is a fighting cock, as he is usually a loser.


Flesh should be a main consideration in selecting a cocks for the keep as this is the bulk from which you are to carve and perfect the physique. If you will note it is to carve or take from, not add to. In my opinion, nothing can be added to a cock in the keep unless it would be wind and endurance, as all flesh that is added is not a natural part of him and we must have extra flesh in the beginning of the keep if we expect to carve anything away and yet have enough left. How can one carve a statue from an exact sized piece of marble without a gamble? Suppose the chisel slipped. The are too many slips with thin cocks or cocks that have been scratched down too thin. A cock must go into training from 4 to 8 ounces heavy and he must be treated as an overweight cock. One must choose between feathers, sinue and bone with weakness, or reflex, round, firm alive flesh with strength and vigor. Temperament

Temperament is not to be ignored as this is a vital part of the cock’s makeup. The same as he inherits his color, red, gray, black or blue, he too inherits his temperament. It is wise to avoid birds with extremely high temperaments this is sometimes indicative of fine brood yard qualities rather than pit. Just a word of caution, do not confuse temperament with alertness. Alertness and being wide awake will come under control when it is handled properly, but temperament is usually always explosive. It is a part of his inherited makeup, the same as color. Disposition relates to the individual and is usually a result of his environment. It too generally is a result of the way he has been handled and responded to it. This too can become a seemingly permanent part of him but this can be taken away from him or added to by the way he is treated. It is wise to discard all cocks with ugly disposition and stubborn tendencies.

Natural Strength

Natural strength is a great asset and can be likened unto a prize fighter who has 50 wins with 40 knockouts. This is indicative of natural strength can be bred and raised in a cock, and supplemented but a small bit in his training. Some other cocks appear to have all the natural strength but when the real heat of the battle comes and injury is inflicted, he is unable to cope with the situation. This is a short bred undesirable pit cock. Natural strength or weakness is a result of breeding and perfect environment.


Since it is necessary to suggest some equipment in preconditioning it can be brief: An open air pen from 5 to 6 feet wide, 8 to 10 feet long and 7 to 9 feet high with wind breakers or blinds all around the sides from the ground up for 2 to 2 1/2 feet. The top should be half roofed under which a T-type roost pole may be built which reaches to within 30 to 36 inches of the roof portion. There should be a fresh clean 4 inch litter of corn shucks or straw over the floor. Never should this litter be over 6 inches. An easily clean water can, can be nailed to one end of the T-type perch. The T-type perch should be so arranged that the cock never touches the sides or top of the pen. Since the pen is blinded around the sides the cock will rise to the perch to oberve his surroundings, and upon doing so, he will come down to see what can be done about it, thus he continues up and down.

It is well to bear in mind that we are not conditioning this cock but we are roughing him down or up to a physical fitness to condition. The height of the fly pole (not swing) and the depth of the litter are the factors which regulate his work. Therefore, we must be careful to not overwork a thin cock nor a fat cock because the thin cock will never build up and the fat cock can possibly burn up. In an accessible place a feed cup can be placed to feed all cocks in at night and the thin cock can be fed there in the morning, whereas the fat cock can be fed the morning feed in this litter and from the cup at night only until the desirable weight is obtained. You can adjust this feeding habit according to the way the thin cock gains weight and the fat cock loses weight. One must exercise judgment to not overfeed a thin cock and to not underfeed a fat cock as there is danger in either extreme.

Cocks must be kept under close observation and if weight is being put on or taken off at the rate of one ounce every three to five days, progress is being made. There is no guess work about the weight. You must weigh these cocks empty. Early in the morning before they have picked up any feed or moisture is the most desirable time to weigh. It is wise to remember that we are trying to have the cocks carry a little excess weight and moisture so that we will have a surplus from which to carve a full rounded physique. There are two plans for training cocks. One to work hard, feed sparingly and spring them by jumping their weight with excessive moisture the last two feeds, but this method we are discussing is to fight the cocks on the drop which most successful cockers do. The drop is accomplished by having and keeping excessive flesh all the way through the training period and pulling the moisture with the last 4 or 5 feeds.

Feed Consumption

The feed composition for Preconditioning and “Keep” feeding should consist of 50 percent good commercial pigeon chow, 15 percent oats, 20 percent corn chops, 15 percent of barley, rye, millet, wheat, sunflower seed and rice with the husk, all this last 15 percent in equal parts. This last 15 percent mixture is not imperative but helpful and if all can not be obtained, any one or two of them to substitute for this 15 percent will be satisfactory. This mixture above is basic, but it must be supplemented with a noon day feed of variety. A little lettuce once each day, a small chunk of banana can be feed twice a week at noon, a small amount nut meats (peanuts, pecans, etc.) may be fed twice each week, too, a small marble sized ball of ground lean beef may be fed twice each week. It may be made clear here that one day out of every 7 of a cock’s entire life must be soft feed. Stale bread and buttermilk or oatmeal and buttermilk are preferable. Each night feed in precondition in which the grain feed is used, it is desirable to sprinkle the feed generously with a good brand of plain canned evaporated milk – I prefer Carnation.

A cod liver oil granule or pellet high in Vitamin A and D should be given every other morning in precondition and every morning after working in cockhouse condition for the first nine days of the cockhouse training. Two weeks more or less a sufficient amount of time to keep a cock in his precondition work, but the precondition feeding program can be continued indefinitely. After a cock has been in precondition, unless he is to be put in cockhouse training, can be switched to a small pen without a high perch and very little litter so that he may loaf for a week. This pen should be a nice clean place on the ground so he may have access to minerals and just relax and be lazy for about a week. This two weeks in a fly pen and one week’s rest is a good procedure which will keep a cock in excellent shape indefinitely. It is true that all work and no relaxation can stale your cock or just burn him up. It is equally true that loafing and no work can make him too fat and sluggish.


After two weeks precondition, we can place the cock in the cockhouse. Now, let us make a survey. Have you eliminated lice and worms? Has the cock’s health met the standards? Is he a fighting cock? Is he a game cock? Is he a well conformed cock? Re-read this keep from beginning to end with intelligence and understanding, as this is the yardstick with which you hope to measure your success or failure in the pit. Inasmuch as you have placed the cocks in the cockhouse from the precondition pen, let us use this as a five-day period to accustome the cock to the inside of the cockhouse, since this will be his new surroundings for about two weeks after this introductory stay. Place the cocks in the stalls at night for the night and morning feed. Take each cock from his night stall to the work board, exercise him a few times, rub lightly and generously, but be sure never to make a false move with him or excite him. Do this twice each day, morning and night, and return him to his precondition pen for an all day stay with the same precondition feed and routine. The five-day period, if wisely used, should prevent your spending time with a cock that will later train unsatisfactorily.


How to work a cock in the keep is the most controversial subject, but we will discuss our way. Probably all the methods discussed have their merit but we will just try to be reasonable. It is nice to place the cock’s breast and front part of the keel in a well cupped left hand with your right hand cupped downward across the back with your little finger touching his tail root and your thumb wrapping around under him towards his vent. With this accomplished you find his legs dangling down and he is sitting comfortably in your hands. Now give him a gentle flirt by raising your left hand quickly and lowering your right hand the same. These two actions combined will give the impression of trying to gently but quickly throw him over backwards. This we can call a flirt as you give im a flirting motion. As the flirt is understood and begins to function watch the cock’s feet, they must rise to the head level since a cock will often bill what he wishes to strike and his feet must rise to his head level in order to strike the object he has billed. A cock carelessly flirted will strike short.

The run is accomplished by facing the cock to the left and placing your right hand behind him to his right side and by slightly lifting a part of his weight and pushing him firmly but gently to your left until you have reached a comfortable distance in the direction. Since you have taken him about three or four feet in this direction pull your hand and arms towards you so as to partly circle the cock’s head from you and tail towards you. This accomplished you will find the cock partially turned in the opposite direction heretofore accomplished. Now place your left hand behind him gently in the same manner as your right hand was in the beginning, push him back across the table to your right. Thus you have accomplished two runs, so you may continue this alternating process until runs are completed. A cock must never run across the board in an absolute straight run nor a sideways run of 90 degrees. As he is started across the board he must run in a sideways position of about 45 degree angle. Thus he will step one foot slightly across the other. This is his stepping motion which increases the power of an inward blows of a gamecock. This 45 degree angle of the run may be called “quartering” the run.

The climb is a great exercise and can be easily accomplished by standing a bale of shucks, straw, hay or any baled forage against you work table or any object against which it can lean slightly, (about a 65 degree angle). If the bale is stood on the end so as to barely balance itself against and object, the angle is correct. A well padded board about 4 or 5 feet long and 8 or 10 inches wide will suffice if a bale is not obtainable. Either of these pieces of equipment may be arranged as a steep plane up which the cock may climb. Since we have established a flirt, we will take the cock in hand in the same position and pitch him lightly in this manner to the top of the inclined plane or bale. He will learn this resting place and in a few days can be tossed with head up and feet toward the middle of the plane or bale 2 1/2 feet from the floor, and he will climb it hurriedly to his accustomed resting place using his wings and entire body fully. The cock must always be tossed with his head and front of body upward toward top of plane upon which he has become accustomed to sitting. If he hesitated to climb, a light gentle pull downward on his tail will teach him. If he does not respond to this, he is exhausted, sick, stupid or outsmarting you, either of which is bad. A few of these climbs are a great deal of work. Be careful. When a cock opens his mouth enough to insert a grain of corn the flat way, this is time to stop and look our bird over.

The stretch may help a great deal to overcome some of the poor or improper work which has been thrust upon a cock. First position, turn cock’s head straight from you on the work table, stand cock firmly on the table with his tail toward you, cup your right hand palm up and thumb pulled in tight as though you were expecting to pour a few drops of water in your hand, turn left hand facing your right cupped hand, slide right hand firmly under the cock between his legs, lay left hand gently across cock’s back as if to rub raise cock upward with right hand, left hand resting and securing cock between hands. Assuming that you are standing within two feet of your work table while all the preparation is being made for the stretch, pull the cock bact toward your right hip and with an upward circular motion with the edge of the table in mind, point the cock’s feet toward this point on the table which you have had in mind. Now hesitate or stop the forward motion of the cock within 4 to 6 inches of the table and the cock will reach full length with his legs and will try to pull himself with his wing power to the table.

When he has made sufficient effort to reach the table, let him go to it so that he will feel that he has accomplished his aim. A slight effort is all he will make perhaps, but some cocks will make more effort than others. As soon as you get the feel of the stretch yourself, all cocks will cooperate more as they learn what you wish them to do. It is best to perform the stretch while cocks have energy left and are anxious. Three to five of the stretch exercises are enough at each working period. An added feature to the stretch exercise is a little easier accomplished and should not be overdone. It is this; as you have through working and rubbing your cock and are starting towards the stalls or scratch pens, you may put the cock on the floor, take him gently by the tail and lift a small portion of his weight by his tail, walking him at the same time from you and you will find his toes slightly touching the ground; he is now digging or stretching to carry himself foward. You may let him pull himself with your giving gently to his pull until you feel that he is relaxing a bit. A little of this exercise has very definite merit but shoud be suspended the last three days of the keep.

Rubbing your cock is as vital as any feature of training and it is well to bear in mind that we as average men are about forty times as large as a gamecock. An elephant is possibly forty times as big as a man. How hard do you wish an elephant to rub you? Rub as though you were rubbing a sore part of your body on which the skin is sore, not like the bone was aching. Do not rub a cock down the back so firmly that his legs kick downward and stretches his neck twice its normal length. Easy and gentle does the job. Remember this about rubbing and working a cock; common sense is an abused pharaseology and yet it has its place, but let us say it this way. Consider the cock as to what he does for himself and to himself under natural circumstances. He can chase a hen a half a day when he wishes to, but I say when he wishes to. If a cock does not wish to cooperate with you in his work, his breathing is heavy and thick, he is wild, stubborn, fat sick or overworked. Maybe you are advancing your work too rapidly. Observe him closely as you will have to be the judge. Patience, consideration and time will usually bring about good results. Remember too, a cock does not necessarily share your zeal and zest to win a cock fight. He does not know how many days he has to get ready nor how much you wish to whip and opponent. Do not let your strength, energy or ambition run away with you to the extent that you will overwork or abuse your cocks. Regularity, system, perseverance, patience and good judgment are the basis of the formula to successfully training game cocks.

It is absolute folly to assume that one can train ten cocks for fourteen days and raise the curtain at the end of fourteen days finding ten cocks ready for battle. Most usually you will find five or six of the ten cocks which will be ready and give a creditable performance. The others need another week or two and some cocks may never get ready. Then there is the cock to consider wich may get ready to fight once in a lifetime. If you have these very difficult cocks to train, they become a nuisance, and do not deserve the time and effort given to them. However, these difficult cocks can be trained when understanding what you are trying to do.


Selecting for battle is a complete survey of all the details before mentioned and assembling them in your mind as well as on paper. Then make up your mind which cocks you choose to fight using standards of perfection as your guide. Do not compromise with much short of perfection. The cocks you select for battle must be all that you can think about a cock which is good on a reasonable basis. Finally his flesh must be firm, not hard, yet not soft, a well contracted or small vent and feel lighter that he really is but not dehydrated or dry, not listless feeling. He must be wide awake, anxious and looking for an opponent. It is well to remember that a complete mental note must be at hand about each cock in final selection. Selecting and training a game cock is a job for the mentally alert. A cock which feels like a firm rubber rooster is in full flesh and should be able to fight.


Point a cock for battle in the minds of most cockers is a real job for a magician, but this is not the case providing real judgment and knowledge have been used in the keep. It is well to assume that if a cock has been abused during the keep and dealt with unintelligently, he then can not overcome this in a week much less two or three days, hence, it is impossible to point him in the last few days of the keep which are allotted to his job. If cocks have come good all through the keep, they will point easilty when properly fed, work tapered and complete rest period. A little less feed and much more rest are the formula for pointing cock for battle. If your keep has been good, do not have too much worry about pointing your cocks.

Details on pointing are to follow with your feeding routine. Holding cocks to point for battle is accomplished by two things alone:

  1. Know what days and approximate hour he will fight. 2. Stagger your work and feed.

If you are fighting in a multiple day event then point the cock for each separate day as if this were the only day you are to fight. If you are fighting cocks for four days, you are to assume that you are fighting four separate derbies. If you should choose to fight a cock a day later than the day scheduled, feed him the night before the fight same as the other cocks you wish to fight the same day, After the cock is pointed to fight one day and you fight him the following, it is wise to observe him closely by the standards laid down in this keep and do not use him unless he meets with the requirements. If he has lost a couple of ounces in weight and does not seem wide awake, it is well to discard him. After a cock is pointed for battle, he is usually his best for six to eight hours afterwards, but there are frequent exceptions.


Heeling a cock can be made an extremely controversial subject but since this keep for the greatest amount of benefit to those who use it, we will pursue the facts as this writer sees them. A two and a quarter or two and three eighths inch gaff for a cock up to five pounds, four ounces and a two and five eights or two and three-quarter inch gaff on all cocks above five pounds four ounces may be used. A high pointed jagger type gaff is the most desirable. The gaff should be snugly, not tightly,fitted to the stub of the spur and leg. Thus fitted, the concave flange will rest snugly to the light packing around the leg and the socket will fit the natural shape of the spur. When a gaff is fitted in this manner and your cocks do not cut, it is well to assume that you need another pair of gaffs. Never try to set a gaff according to your whims or fancy.

If you twist the gaff or over pack it, top or bottom, to do the job, there is a greater possibility that after the cock strikes a few blows the gaff has take its natural set or slips back on the leg like the designer created it to fit. This being true, it warrants the purchase of a different pair of gaffs if a different set is desired. It is true that one of several pairs of identical gaffs will cut, whereas the others do not seem to do as well. A real strong fighting cock usually makes a pair of standard type gaffs good, but one must not depart too far from the conventional type. A good cock, a nicely made pair of gaffs well fitted and snugly tied on will usually serve the purpose well.


Caring for a cock to refight soon is a pet subject with this writer and it has proven a real worth while endeavor. Pardon the personal comment, but this writer campaigned during the year of 1954 in what is considered the country’s major competition areas with about forty cocks, and won or made a considerable showing in all events entered. Some of these cocks were fought six and seven times and one of these cocks which proved to be outstanding was fought thirteen times in one season. Let us see what we have done to the cocks in the process of training. We have take him from a slightly overfleshed cock down to a perfect physique which required taking off flesh and removing excess moisture. And too, it is well to remember that his nervous system has been tuned to almost a breaking point.

Assuming that this has been successfully accomplished, now let us reverse the process of training. Put your cock in a nice pen on the ground without much litter and feed him generously of things as different to the keep feed as possible. Keep the corn out of his diet unless it is severely cold. In short, give him plenty of rest, pleasure and feed. In a few days his weight will rise about three to six ounces above his fighting weight. By weighing and thoroughly examining the cock when empty and deciding he has regained his moisture and original flesh, he may be put either in the keep or the preconditioned pen as previously described. If you stay on the job, and exercise your best judgment with your cocks, they may be fought seven or eight times a year if not badly injured and retrained each time if this plan is pursued.


Assuming that the preconditions and selection of birds to train have been intelligently handled, we will now set forth on a fourteen day routine of work and feed.


  • Take your cock from the overnight stall to your work table. Give him six runs across the work table. The work table should be an old half-bed mattress or even a new one, which is better. Three good flirts two feet high, one stretch exercise, two climb exercises. Rub him generously and freely without quick jerking motions and any excessive hand waving about his face as this is the time that you must make a good or bad impression on the cock. Now drop this cock in a cool out pen where there is no draft and allow him to become normal in respiration and scratch about a little while you are working another cock. As you have finished with the second cock, remove the first cock from the cool out pen and place in the overnight stall, continue this process until all cocks are worked. Now feed two rounded tablespoonful of oatmeal and buttermilk which has soaked overnight. Give one cod liver oil pellet or ganule after morning workout only. At nine or ten o’clock in the morning rub all cocks down generously and pitch them into fly pens or scratch pens until time for their night work. All cocks should be fed as suggested in the keep for the noon day feed.
  • Repeat same work and feed routine at night.


  • Work, one stretch, five flirts, five climbs, 6 runs. Feed grain, a level tablespoon in the morning, well rounded tablespoonful at night, Flollow your same cooling and scratching routine as described for the first day. This is his first grain feed of the keep with a cod liver oil pellet in the morning only, lettuce, nutmeat or banana at noon.
  • Repeat same work and feed routing at night.


  • Two stretches, five flirts, five climbs, ten runs. Repeat same stretch and cool out routine as described in second day, except increase his grain feed to a well rounded tablespoon in the morning and a heaping tablespoonful at night. Now the cock is on full feed, and the only thing that will vary for the next few days is the amount of work which you will give him, unless upon cloose examination you find that he is not throwing his grain and if this is the case, cut his grain a little for one more feed until he does begin to throw it.
  • Repeat same work and feed routing at night.


  • Two stretches, ten flirts, five climbs, ten runs. Cod liver oil pellet in the morning and repeat same feed and scratch routine as last mentioned. Work night and morning.


  • Three stretches, ten flirts, ten climbs, fifteen runs. Cod liver oil pellet in the morning and same feed and work routine as before. Work night and morning.


  • Three stretches, ten flirts, fifteen climbs, twenty runs. Cod liver oil pellet in the morning and same feed and work routine as before. Work morning and night.


  • Three stretches, fifteen flirts, fifteen climbs, twenty-five runs. Cod liver oil in the morning and feed all cocks two or three tablespoonful of oatmeal and buttermilk night and morning with same noon day feed as mentioned before. Continue same cool out and scratch routine as before established. Work night and morning.


  • Three stretches, twenty flirts, twenty climbs, twenty-five runs. Cod liver oil pellet in the morning and feed one rounded tablespoon of grain mixture in the morning and heaping tablespoonful at night. Continue same cool out, scratch and rubbing routine as before established. Work night and morning.


  • Fourth stretchs, twenty flirts, twenty-five climbs, thirty runs. Cod liver oil pellet in the morning and same grain feed, same cool out and scratch routine as for eighth day. Work night and morning.


  • Four stretches, twenty-five flirts, thirty climbs, thirty-five runs. No cod liver oil pellet for the remainder of the keep. Add one-fourth of the white of a hard boiled egg, morning only, to the grain feed (egg white). From this day for the remainder of the keep, do not use fly pens or high roost perch poles nor liter over two inches deep, as we are beginning new to store up energy and taper off on the work of the cock. Use same feed, cool out routine as before described. Cock may be left all day in a medium sized scratch pen. Work night and morning.


  • Two stretches, ten flirts, tenty climbs, twenty run. Feed, cool out, scratch as described in tenth day. Work night and morning.


  • One stretch, two flirts, ten climbs, ten runs. Feed one-fourth of the white of a hard boiled egg per cock with your regular morning and night grain feed. Scratch thirty minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the afternoon. Leave in overnight stalls for the rest of the day. Work night and morning.


  • One stretch, one flirt, one climb, two runs. Scratch five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the afternoon. Leave in overnight stalls all day. Feed one fourth of the white of a hard boiled egg per cock with the regular grain feed night and morning. It is desirable to cover the coops loosely so that plenty of air may be had, but make the coops as dark as possible to keep the cocks perfectly quiet and calm all day. Make as little noise and as few trips to the cockhouse as possible. The noon day feed on this day shoudl consist of a few bites of the white of a hard boiled egg and two or three picks of yellow cracked corn. No lettuce, no banana, no nutmeat on this day.


  • Feed the cocks one fourth of a feed if the cocks fight about noon, feed one half of the feed if they fight in the afternoon. If he fights at night, feeda full morning feed and a bite or two of corn and egg white at noon. Keep cocks dark and quiet untill time to heel. Just before heeling, the cock may be dropped into a scratch coop long enough to kick about a dozen or so strokes, then he is ready to heel.
  • Grain feed night and morning every day except first and seventh day of keep. It will take from two to two and one-half pounds of feed a cock through fourteen day keep. Use the same mixture as use in the precondition and mix in a large can so all feed may be mixed at one time for all cocks through the keep. For example, if you have one cock use about two pounds of mixture — four pounds for two cocks — six pounds for three cocks, etc. Now, this is important to avoid any quick change of feed. And too, after the first four days of the keep, you will begin to add to this can of mixed feed. From the fourth day on, every time you use feed from your mixture, you will replace the same amount with good clean yellow corn chops. The corn chop mixture will consist of ninety per cent yellow corn (common field variety) and ten per cent yellow pop corn.
  • When the corn mixture is added to your original mixture, stir well to blend the corn in. As you add corn each day fro the amount of mixture removed each day, you will approach a full mixture of pure corn. After the fourth daysame as the case of adding the corn mixture, you will add one heaping tablespoon washed clean oats which have been soaked in condensed milk all day or night, whichever the case may be. These oats are added to your mixture after you have put the proper amount of feed in your pan, washed it with clear water and are ready to feed your cocks. One heaping tablespoon of oats above mentioned to every six cocks. A generous amount of medium sized granite grit must be fed at all times can be discontinued last three days. Stir these well into your feed mixture and add a little condensed milk, but discontinue milk after tenth day of keep.
  • A mixture of one-half condensed milk and one-half water may be given generously to replace drinking water for first ten days of keep. Give your fat cocks the milk mixture one day and plain clean water the next, however your thin cocks may have the milk mixture every day for the first ten days of the keep. Bear in mind that cups and feed pans must be well cleaned and sunned when milk is used. After working cocks in the morning for first ten days of keep, a cod liver oil pellet may be given. A pellet which is high in Vitamin A and D is necessary. After the ninth day you may begin to feed white of a hard boiled egg at night only the tenth and eleventh day at the rate of one white of egg to every four cocks. The twelfth and thirteenth day white of an egg may be fed twice each day, night and morning. In same proportion as mentioned above.
  • All feed should be washed before feeding but well drained. When milk is being fed, it can be added after washing feed. Milk is to be discontinued in all forms after the tenth day. Oats may be soaked in water from the tenth day on until the fourteenth day. Water should be kept before the cock all through the keep except the last two days. The twelfth and thirteenth day after you have fed night and morning, place a cup of water, before the cocks and let them have what they want, then remove the water and close the cocks up. Try to encourage moisture through drinking until the last two days and particularly the last two feeds. No water at all on figth day. Never change water source nor type during you keep.
  • When cocks do not turn out well, there is usually no single thing to blame but thre are many things too small to attract much attention and they have added up against your cock. It is rarely ever the feed if a conventional pattern is followed. It is nice to see cocks jump at the stalls and pound the feeding cups, but if he looks and acts anxious at all times, he is too hungry — increase his feed. If he sits idly around and does not show life and vigor, decrease his feed. Observe him closely, he may be sick. Meat may be fed three or four times during the keep at noon preferably, but night feed will do. A ball about the size of a marble. Boiled, lean beef well ground and fed at noon on the twelfth day of the keep is good. Never make an abrupt change in feed. If anything is to be added or taken away from the feed, do it gradually. Work and feed should be eleven hours apart such as, seven o’clock in the morning and six o’clock at night. Once a routine is established, it is wise not to vary it, even ten minutes one way or the other. Routine is of the greatest importance.

If you wish to convert this keep into a short heel keep just add about one third more work and rest one more day at the end of the keep which will make a fifteen day keep instead of a fourteen day keep.



3 Responses to “Historical Keeps”

  1. luz garcia said

    Learned. Alot thanks

  2. Jun Gold said

    great Guys…..

  3. Eliseo Diaz said

    Great advise and great work Gentlemen .

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