Fighting Cocks

June 29, 2005

We have a customer who, with an extended farm south of Guadalajara, Mexico, purchased a KP-6 screw press. They refer to it as "the recovery machine". It is used to separate undigested food solids from manure at the pig farm. Originally, this press failed to adequately dewater these solids. Both 0.030" perforated and 0.020" wedgewire screens were tried. It was only with the addition of a small 18" static screen, to pre-thicken the flow, that successful operation was achieved. The press cake is used as a feed supplement in the cattle grow-out operation.

One Sunday, after I ran out of things to tell him about screw presses, the owner told me of his own avocation. He spent twenty years playing and breeding fighting cocks. In his career he regularly worked in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, the United States (mostly in Arizona and Louisiana), and other countries.

For breeding, he imported birds from the Far East and Spain. The birds were characterized by their strength, how high they jump, and the skill with which they aim their spur. The trick is to breed the best of these qualities.

The fighting spurs are different in each country. Made of forged steel, some are longer or shorter, serrated or smooth, flat or pointed. In all cases the points are needle sharp, and, in the case of a flat blade, it is sharp enough to shave with. The spurs are made from spring steel, and some Swiss alloys are popular.

Mounting the blades is a science. Generally, the first step is to wrap two 3/8" wide bands, on the leg, above and below the bird's spur. Dr. Scholl's elastic bandage, cut into narrow strips, is preferred.

The bird's spur is a bony protrusion on the back side of the foot. It has a nail, but this is trimmed off. The saddle, made of leather or plastic, is wrapped around the foot, at the spur. There is a hole in the saddle that fits around the spur. Some saddles have aluminum inserts in these holes. The saddle is tied in place with a yard of surgical suture.

The saddle has a flat platform on which the metal spur is mounted. This is tied in place with the thread. The final assembly must be extremely rigid on the bird's leg.

In Mexico, only the left foot is armed. Just as most humans are right handed, most birds are left-footed. Right-footed birds do poorly in contest.

In the States, both feet are armed. The long, pointed spurs are bent inward at a slight angle. Because of this, spurs manufactured in the States are carefully etched with LH and RH markings. The SPCA has put great pressure on the sport in the States. The customer gave up the business three years ago. The participants were bringing in more weapons than before. Also, narcotraficantes have gravitated to the sport, and the police tend to arrest everyone when they conduct a raid, not just the drug people. Also, the hobby was too much of a distraction from his core businesses. Today the customer has reduced his flock to 1,500 birds. He belongs only to a local club that meets for a match every two weeks.

Issue 162