Date: 23 April 2014
COCK FIGHTING IN THE NORTH OF FRANCE
In many Western countries, cockfighting is seen as cruel and therefore prohibited. In France, too, cockfighting is considered cruel and it is in principle prohibited by law, except in some parts where an exception is made under subparagraph 3 of article 521-1 of the French penal code for cultural reasons.
However you look at it, culture or not, a cockfight is and remains a cruel blood sport. Chickens and roosters are very sensitive, social animals. A cockfight exploits the normal behaviour of cocks that they do not tolerate another cock on their territory. In a normal situation, a cock will usually give up a fight (even roosters specially bred for this sport) if he feels that he is the weaker. In the circle of a cockpit they are not given the chance to do this. They are egged on by the spectators. Because, of course, there must be a winner. As with bullfights, there is no escape. Prior to the fight many cocks have their crest, ears and wattles trimmed to prevent the other cock getting a grip.This is a very bloody affair and is always done without anesthesia.
A Dutch magazine published a decription of a cockfight:
“Two cocks, one white and one black, attack each other so furiously that within a quarter of an hour the blood dripping from their beaks blinds their eyes. They are completely fired up. Ther referees start their stopwatchs whenever the battle stops and the exhausted animals adhere to each other. If the hostilities stop for two consecutive minutes, while the two cocks are still standing, then the fight ends in a draw. But a real cock fighter expects that his champion will not be satisfied with a draw. “A good cock fights to his death,” he says. …
The roosters will continue with the courage of despair collapse together. The blood is pumped in spurts through their flabby neck, as if their hearts beat there. They have become too tired to jump and ram their spurs in each other. To make theirs weapon even worse, the owners have fitted these still fairly young with spurs with daggers from cocks previously killed in the arena. These small knives are mounted on a kind of support that is wrapped with wire to clamp it to the legs.
The two cocks demonstrate incredible stamina. After half an hour they are, swaying on his legs, still dogged enough to bite each other’s necks, during a short truce. The stopwatches are pressed again. Their exhaustion is now clear; the two heads sink slowly down, as if in a slow motion, until they hit the ground. What still stands on two strong legs is a blood-red sticky mass of feathers, in which no eyes can be seen. It has already been claimed that one cock had become a “squinter”, meaning that one eye has been pecked out. If he manages to survive these horrors, he will still be allowed to fight, but only against another one-eyed cock. That’s what the old rules of this cruel game want. The tension ends, as according to the timekeepers two minutes have passed, during which the panting animals were not able to raise the energy to peck or kick each other. Their aggression which first lead to an appalling bloodlust is extinguished. Holding each other up, they are rocking back and forth, as if they thereby express a feeling of endearment. This sheltering together of two animals on the brink of death has something moving. The duo who are about to faint are picked up. The owners cut a long feather from the tail and put it down the throat to prevent choking from the heavy bleeding Then they will lovingly nurse their birds, in the hope that they will recover from their injuries and in a few months can be put back in the ring again. Extra-power food should give them renewed lust for battle… ”
In this short documentary by AFP which recently appeared on youtube, you can see images of cockfighting in France. The betting around the cock fighting is a purely masculine affair, a tradition passed down from father to son. There can be a lot of money involved. In general, the fights take place in so-called “gallodromes” in small groups out of sight of the general public. That they would rather not have too much publicity about this blood sport is clear from the images of the newspaper Le Parisien, where the filmmakers were not authorized to film the end of the fight. Every year between 10,000 and 50,000 cocks are slain in gallodromes per year from the north of France.
The number of gallodromes in France has fallen in the last 30 years by half, but in these villages gallodromes are still to be found:
- Aire S / La Lys
- Camphin en Pévèle
- Camblain l’Abbé
- Hautes Avesnes
- Mt des Bruyeres
- Mt the Péruwelz
- Ste Marie Kerque
- St Martin au Laert
On this page you can find photos taken in 2010 in the town of L’Abeele, where cocks were prepared for a fight.
In 2010, a bill to prohibit bullfights and cockfights was prepared. After a long radio silence, the bill officially submitted by the French parliament in December 2013. A detailed discussion is expected soon.
How can it be that a country like France, which calls itself civilized, in today’s Europe , in 2014, still tolerates these practices, that there are severe punishments for the serious mistreatment of animals, but that under the excuse of “culture “animals can be tortured like this. Unacceptable! What do you think?