Cockfighting is a blood sport that involves two roosters dueling to death in a pit, with spectators gambling and betting on their favored cock. In many countries, cock fighting is outlawed. However, cockfights are also legal in several parts of the world, often hailed as a part of tradition, culture, or religion.

The birds used in this spectator sport are specially trained and conditioned for stamina and strength. In fights, cocks are often fitted with a razor-sharp blade, known as a gaff. 


What Is A Chicken Gaff?

Chickens have a natural spur that is part of the leg bone. It is covered with keratin, the same hard material found in a chicken’s beak. The spurs are effective weapons to protect a flock from predators, as well as to defend a chicken’s territory. When a chicken attacks, he will often lead with his spurs. 

In cockfighting, the natural spurs of the cocks are often removed and are instead replaced with a gaff. Sharp and made of metal, a gaff resembles curved ice picks. Cocks use artificial gaffs to rip and tear at their opponents when fighting in a pit. Due to the sharpness of a chicken gaff, it can draw blood, lead to severe injuries, or the death of a cock. 


What is a Cockfight Blade?

In cock fighting, birds are equipped with metal spurs called gaffs or knives, tied to the leg in the area where the natural spur has been partially removed. Typically, a gaff is curved in shape and can range in length, from “short spurs” measuring over an inch to “long spurs” that are almost 2 1/2 inches long. 

During the height of cock fighting in England In the 17th century, gaffs were made of silver. In American cockfight events, gaffs are also referred to as long heels, measuring about 2 3/4 inches in length and attached to both legs of the gamecock. In Mexico, the weapon used is a Mexican short knife attached to the left leg of the cock. In Philippine cock fights, it is common to see cockfighters use single-edged blades or double-edged blades, that are all attached to the left leg.

In India, the natural spur of a cock is left intact and sharpened. For matches in the Dominican Republic, cocks are often outfitted with spurs made from various materials, ranging from plastic to metal, or even a shell.

Are Rooster Gaffs Illegal?

Gaffs are legal to use in cockfighting. Because a gaff is a weapon used to subdue or kill another cock in fights, a lot of people see it as one of the main reasons to ban cockfighting altogether, citing it as being cruel to the animals forced to fight against each other. In countries that have banned cockfighting, the possession of chicken gaffs is also illegal.

Before cock fight matches were banned in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, gaffs were permitted to be used in matches. New Mexico was the 49th state to pass a law banning rooster fights, while Louisiana was the last US state to pass similar legislation.


How Are Roosters Trained to Fight?

Gamecocks are specifically bred to achieve heightened physical prowess, speed, courage, and aggressiveness. A training program is tailor-made for each gamefowl but a common way of training the birds is by sparring. Their spurs are covered with sparring muffs so as to not injure other gamecocks in the training pit.

Over the course of their training and upbringing, gamefowls are often injected with steroids and adrenaline-boosting drugs to further enhance their strength and stamina.


Final Note

In some parts of the world where cockfighting is legal, the use of gaffs is permitted as well. Some might see the use of gaffs to be harsh, but it is a normal part of cockfighting as it can raise the stakes on the outcome of the match.