Mature male chickens less than one year old are called cockerels. The term "rooster" originates in the United States, and the term is widely used throughout North America, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The older terms "cock" or "cockerel", the latter denoting a young cock, are used in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
"Roosting" is the action of perching aloft to sleep at day, which is done by both sexes. The rooster is polygamous, but cannot guard several nests of eggs at once. He guards the general area where his hens are nesting, and attacks other roosters that enter his territory. During the daytime, a rooster often sits on a high perch, usually 0.9 to 1.5 m (3 to 5 feet) off the ground, to serve as a lookout for his group (hence the term "rooster"). He sounds a distinctive alarm call if predators are nearby and will frequently crow to assert his territory.
- 1 Crowing
- 2 Capons
- 3 Cockfighting
- 4 The cockerel "waltz"
- 5 Religion and spiritual belief systems
- 6 Emblems
- 7 Image gallery
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Roosters almost always start crowing before four months of age. Although it is possible for a hen to crow as well, crowing (together with hackles development) is one of the clearest signs of being a rooster.
The rooster is often portrayed as crowing at the break of dawn ("cock-a-doodle-doo"). However, while many roosters crow shortly after waking up, this idea is not exactly true. A rooster can and will crow at any time of the day. Some roosters are especially vociferous, crowing almost constantly, while others only crow a few times a day. These differences are dependent both upon the rooster's breed and individual personality. A rooster can often be seen sitting on fence posts or other objects, where he crows to proclaim his territory.
Roosters have several other calls as well, and can cluck, similar to the hen. Roosters occasionally make a patterned series of clucks to attract hens to a source of food, the same way a mother hen does for her chicks.
Rooster crowing contests
Rooster crowing contests are a traditional sport in several countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States, Indonesia and Japan. The oldest contests are held with longcrowers. Depending on the breed, either the duration of the crowing or the times the rooster crows within a certain time is measured.
A capon is a castrated rooster. In the caponization procedure, the bird's testes are completely removed; a surgical procedure is required for this as the rooster's sexual organs are internal. As a result of this procedure, certain male physical characteristics will experience stunted development:
- The comb and wattles cease growing after castration, giving a capon's head a dwarfed appearance.
- The hackle, tail and saddle feathers grow unusually long.
Caponization also affects the disposition of the bird. Removal of the bird's testes eliminates the male sex hormones, lessening the male sex instincts and changing their behaviour: the birds become more docile, less active, and tend not to fight.
This procedure produces a unique type of poultry meat which is favoured by a specialized market. The meat of normal uncastrated roosters has a tendency to become coarse, stringy and tough as the birds age. This process does not occur in the capon. As caponized roosters grow more slowly than intact males, they accumulate more body fat. The concentration of fat in both the light and dark areas of the capon meat is greater than in that of the uncastrated males. Overall, it is often thought that capon meat is more tender, juicy, and flavorful than regular chicken.
A cockfight is a contest held in a ring called a cockpit between two gamecocks or cocks, with the first use of the word gamecock (denoting use of the cock in game, sport, pastime or entertainment) appearing in 1646. after the term "cock of the game" used by George Wilson, in the earliest known book on the secular sport of cockfighting in The Commendation of Cocks and Cock Fighting in 1607. Gamecocks are not typical farm chickens. The cocks are specially bred and trained for increased stamina and strength. The comb and wattle are removed from a young gamecock because, if left intact, they would be a disadvantage during a match. This process is called dubbing. Sometimes the cocks are given drugs to increase their stamina or thicken their blood, which increases their chances of winning. Cockfighting is considered a traditional sporting event by some, and an example of animal cruelty by others and is therefore outlawed in most countries. Usually wagers are made on the outcome of the match, with the surviving or last-bird-standing being declared the winner. There are religious significance and aspects of the rooster and the cockfight which are exampled by the religious belief of Tabuh Rah, a religious and spiritual cockfight where a rooster is used in religious custom by allowing him to fight against another rooster in the Balinese Hinduism spiritual appeasement exercise of Tabuh Rah, a form of animal sacrifice, where ritual fights usually take place outside the temple and follow an ancient and complex ritual as set out in the sacred lontar manuscripts. Similarly within the religious schema of Christianity and the cockfight within a religious, spiritual and sacred context, there are numerous representations of the rooster or the cock and the cockfight as a religious vessel found in the Catacombs from the earliest period as well as similar illustrations of cocks in fighting stance taken from the Vivian Bible.
The cockerel "waltz"
The cockerel "waltz", when the cockerel struts in a half circle with one wing extended down, is an aggressive approach signifying to females his dominance, and usually, the female will submit by running or moving away from the cockerel in acknowledgement. On rare occasions, the hen will attempt to fight the cockerel for dominance. Once dominance is established, the cockerel will rarely waltz again. When other cockerels are in the hen yard, this waltz is used significantly more and most cockerels will waltz together if dominance has not been established; either one will back off, or the two cockerels will fight. Note also that the cockerel will waltz again if he is taken out of the pen for a period, usually 24 hours, and put back.
Some more aggressive cockerels will drop and extend both wings and puff out all their body feathers to give the hens or other cocks the impression of a larger size, and charge through the hen yard.
Religion and spiritual belief systems
Since antiquity the rooster has been, and still is, a sacred animal in some cultures and deeply embedded within various religious belief systems and religious worship. The term "Persian bird" for the cock would appear to have been given by the Greeks after Persian contact "because of his great importance and his religious use among the Persians", but even long before that time, in Iran, during the Kianian Period, from about 2000 B.C. to about 700 B.C., "the cock was the most sacred"
Animism, shamanism and tribal religions
In Southeast Asia, understandings and interpretations of indigenous beliefs of the veneration of spirits and deities remain strong and for many who are practicing Christians there is still the veneration of the traditional spirits (anito) as in northern Philippines. Animist beliefs extend to the rooster and the cockfight, "a popular form of fertility worship among almost all Southeast Asians" further considered by some within the Judeo-Christian ethic as a form of Baal or Baalim.
Aluk or Aluk To Dolo a sect of Agama Hindu Dharma as a part of religion in Indonesia, within the Toraja society and the people of Tana Toraja, embrace religious rituals such as the funeral ceremony where a sacred cockfight is an integral part of the religious ceremony and considered sacred within that spiritual realm. In several myths the cock has the power to revive the dead or to make a wish come true and is well known in Torajan cosmology.
Kaharingan, an animist folk religion of the Iban branch of the Dayak people, accepted as a form of Hinduism by the Indonesian government, includes the belief of a supreme deity as well as the rooster and cockfight in relation to that of the spiritual and religious and some with the belief that humans become the fighting cocks of god, with the Iban further believing the rooster and cockfight was introduced to them by god. Gawai Dayak a festival of the Dayaks includes the cockfight and the waving of a rooster over offerings while asking for guidance and blessings with the rooster being sacrificed and the blood included in spiritual offering, while the Tiwah festival involves the sacrifice of many animals including the chicken as offerings to the Supreme God.
Miao (i.e. Hmong) are animists, shamanists and ancestor worshipers with beliefs being affected in varying degrees by Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity. At the Miao New Year there may be the sacrifice of domestic animals and there may be cockfights. The Hmong of Southeast Guizhou will cover the rooster with a piece of red cloth and then hold it up to worship and sacrifice to the Heaven and the Earth. In Shamanism in the Hmong culture, a shaman may use a rooster in religious ceremony as it is said that the rooster shields the shaman from "evil" spirits by making him invisible as the evil spirits only see the rooster's spirit. In a 2010 trial of a Sheboygan Wisconsin Hmong who was charged with staging a cockfight, it was stated that the roosters were "kept for both food and religious purposes", resulting in an acquittal. In Viet Nam fighting roosters or fighting cocks are colloquially called "sacred chickens".
Yoruba oral history tells of God lowering Oduduwa down from the sky, the ancestor of all people, bringing with him a rooster, some dirt, and a palm seed. The dirt was thrown into the water and the cock scratched it to form land, and the seed grew into a tree with sixteen limbs, the original sixteen kingdoms.
"The sacrifice of a cock and a ritual cockfight was part of the Imbolc festivities in honour of the pan-Celtic goddess Brighid". In the 20th century, Imbolc was resurrected as a religious festival in Neopaganism, specifically in Wicca, Neo-druidry and Celtic Reconstructionism.
It is understood that the constellations of the Zodiac within the belief system of Astrology, "the religion of the stars", originated in the ancient land of Babylonia (including modern day Iraq). The lore of the True Shepherd of Anu (SIPA.ZI.AN.NA – Orion and his accompanying animal symbol, the Rooster, with both representing the herald of the gods, being their divinely ordained role to communicate messages of the gods. "The Heavenly Shepherd" or "True Shepherd of Anu" – Anu being the chief god of the heavenly realms. On the star map the figure of the Rooster was shown below and behind the figure of the True Shepherd, both representing the herald of the gods, in his bird and human forms respectively.
Nergal, an idol of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, and Persians, whose name means, "a dunghill cock". (Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Brewer, 1900) Astrological mythology of the Assyrians and Babylonians was that the idol "Nergal represents the planet Mars, which was ever the emblem of bloodshed".
See also Kukkuta Sastra in Divination.
In Norse mythology, the crowing of three particular roosters occur at the beginning of the foretold events of Ragnarök. In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, references to Ragnarök begin from stanza 40 until 58, with the rest of the poem describing the aftermath. In the poem, a völva—a Nore seeress—recites information to the wisdom-seeking god Odin. In stanza 41, the völva says:
The völva then describes three roosters crowing: In stanza 42, the jötunn herdsman Eggthér sits on a mound and cheerfully plays his harp while the crimson rooster Fjalar (Old Norse "hider, deceiver") crows in the forest Gálgviðr. The golden rooster Gullinkambi crows to the Æsir in Valhalla, and the third, unnamed soot-red rooster crows in the halls of the underworld location of Hel in stanza 43.
The poem Fjölsvinnsmál also mentions a rooster by the name of Víðópnir. According to the poem, the rooster sits atop the tree Mímameiðr, likely another name for the central cosmological tree Yggdrasil.
Bayon Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple that also incorporates elements of Hindu cosmology includes "a depiction of a cockfight" within the walls of the temple. which continues today within a debate of "religious sanctity"
With the rambling strutting roosters of the Buddhist temple of Wat Suwankhiri on a Payathonsu cliff nearby, during April, Three Pagodas Pass becomes a site of the Songkran Festival with cockfights.
Divination, a part of many religions is derived from the Latin divinare "to foresee, to be inspired by a god" and as a part of divination comes alectryomancy, which means rooster and divination respectively, with the intent of communication between the gods and man in which the diviner observes a cock, pecking at grain, with Judaism forbidding acts of divination in the Hebrew Bible Deuteronomy 18:10-12. Alectormancy though is also sacrificing a sacred rooster, with the use of the sacred rooster through alectryomancy further understood within that religious character and likewise defined as the rooster fight or cockfight or cockfighting with the intent of communication between the gods and man.
Kukkuta Sastra (Cock Astrology) is a form of divination based on the rooster fight and commonly believed in coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is prevalent in the state, especially in the districts of Krishna, Guntur, East Godavari and West Godavari and the Sankranti festival.
Balinese Hinduism includes the religious belief of Tabuh Rah, a religious cockfight where a rooster is used to fight against another rooster. The altar and deity Ida Ratu Saung may be seen with a fighting cock in his hand with the spilling of blood being necessary as purification to appease the evil spirits. Ritual fights usually take place outside the temple proper and follow an ancient and complex ritual as set out in the sacred lontar manuscripts.
Likewise a popular Hindu ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala, India is the blood offering to the Theyyam gods. Despite being forbidden in the Vedic philosophy of sattvic Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, Theyyam deities are propitiated through the rooster sacrifice where the religious cockfight is a religious exercise of offering blood to the Theyyam gods.
Pongal or Makar Sankranti is a Hindu harvest festival. In southern state of Tamil Nadu and western state of Gujarat, an event of the celebrations is rooster fighting also known as Seval Sandai or Kozhi kettu. It is also practiced in Tulunadu. Kozhi kettu organized as part of religious events are permitted.
The Samaritans or 'Cutheans' are an ethnic group with a long history, once widely distributed and powerful. From Assyria they extended to India, China, Arabia Petraea and Abyssinia. They were also introduced by the Assyrian Empire into Samaria, in a policy of mass deportations. They had their Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim, opposite the Temple in Jerusalem, and they worshipped the Mesopotamian deity Nergal: his emblem was a cock (rooster).
The Zohar (iii. 22b, 23a, 49b), the book of Jewish mysticism and collection of writings on the Torah written by first century tannaic sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), tells of a celestial manifestation, which causes the crowing of the roosters; known also in the Talmud, is "blessed be He who has given the cock intelligence", (Ber. 60b). and as well as Job 38:36 in the Douay-Rheims Bible.
Not only "In the rabbinic literature, the cockcrow is used as general marking of time", but also some of the Sages interpreted the "cockcrow" to mean the voice of the Temple officer who summoned all priests, Levites, and Israelites to their duties and used as such because the Hebrew gever was used also to mean a "rooster" in addition to the meaning of "man, strong man".
The Talmud likewise provides the statement "Had the Torah not been given to us, we would have learned modesty from cats, honest toil from ants, chastity from doves and gallantry from cocks" – (Jonathan ben Nappaha. Talmud: Erubin 100b), which may be further understood as to that of the gallantry of cocks being taken in the context of a religious instilling vessel of "a girt one of the loins"(Young's Literal Translation) that which is "stately in his stride" and "move with stately bearing" within the Book of Proverbs 30:29-31. Saʻadiah ben Yosef Gaon (Saadia Gaon) identifies the definitive trait of "a cock girded about the loins" within Proverbs 30:31(Douay–Rheims Bible) as "the honesty of their behavior and their success", identifying a spiritual purpose of a religious vessel within that religious and spiritual instilling schema of purpose and use, within Judeo-Christian traditions.
The Hebrew term zarzir, which literally means "girt"; "that which is girt in the loins" (BDB 267 s.v.) is recognized in the Targum as well as the Chaldaic, Syriac, Arabic, LXX and Vulgate with all referencing the fighting rooster or fighting cock as the religious vessel. The ancient Hebrew versions identified the Hebrew "a girt one of the loins" of Proverbs 30:31 as a rooster, "which most of the old translations and Rabbis understood to be a fighting cock", with also the Arabic sarsar or sirsir being an onomatopoeticon or onomatopoeia for rooster (alektor) as the Hebrew zarzir of Proverbs 30:31. "Rooster (Gallus domesticus) bones were identified at Lachish dating to early Iron II", but even earlier not to be ruled out, which corresponds was well with "as for Palestine, the earliest chicken bones are present in Iron Age I strata in Lachish and Tell Hasben". Further we see the rooster placed within the Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David and recognized of Jewish identity and Judaism. In excavations at Gibeon, near Jerusalem, dating to the seventh century B.C., potsherds were found incised with cocks and "some of them placed within the six-pointed star of the Magen David". The seal of Jaazaniah carries the insignia of a rooster from the ruins of the biblical Judean kingdom at Mizpah, with the inscription of "belonging to Jaazaniah, servant to the king"., the first known representation of the chicken in Palestine, and from II Kings 25:23, we know of one Jaazaniah the Maschathit, who was an official under Gedalish at Mizpah.
Plutarch said the inhabitants of Caria carried the emblem of the rooster on the end of their lances and relates that origin to Artaxerxes, who awarded a Carian who was said to have killed Cyrus the Younger at the battle of Cunaxa in 401 B.C "the privilege of carrying ever after a golden cock upon his spear before the first ranks of the army in all expeditions" and the Carians also wore crested helmets at the time of Herodotus, for which reason "the Persians gave the Carians the name of cocks". It is Carites in 2 Kings 11 who were used by Jehoiada to protect Joash son of Ahaziah of the line of David, ancestor to Christ from Athaliah.
In the Jewish religious practice of Kapparos, a rooster as a religious vessel is swung around the head and then slaughtered on the afternoon before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The meat is the distributed among the poor for their pre-fast meal. The purpose of the ritual is the expiation of sins of the man as the animal symbolically receives all the man's sins, which is based on the reconciliation of Isaiah 1:18. The religious practice is mentioned for the first time by Natronai ben Hilai, Gaon of the Academy of Sura in Babylonia, in 853 C.E., who describes it as a custom of the Babylonian Jews and further explained by Jewish scholars in the ninth century by that since the Hebrew word geber (Gever) means both "man" and "rooster" the rooster may act or serve as a palpable substitute as a religious vessel in place of the man with the practice also having been as a custom of the Persian Jews.
In East Timor, one of the two predominately Christian nations in southeast Asia (the Philippines being the other), for some, the roof of the house is reserved for gods and spirits of ancestors, the lower portion remains for the nature spirit and usually occupied by animals, and the cock is admired because of courage and perseverance, with the courage of a man compared with that of the cock, with the cockfight occurring regularly and "many tais designs include the cock". Reverend Dr. Kosuke Koyama's thoughts and words spreading the Christian gospel while in Indonesia of, this morning I say to myself, "I will try to bring the gospel of Christ through the medium of cockfighting!" may be further understood not only in the spiritual understandings of many in Indonesia but further in the light of numerous representations of the rooster or cock as a religious vessel found in the Catacombs from the earliest period including a painting from the Catacomb of St. Priscilla (mentioned in all the ancient liturgical sources and known as the "Queen of the Catacombs" in antiquity) reproduced in Giovanni Gaetano Bottari's folio of 1754, where the Good Shepherd is depicted as feeding the lambs, with a crowing cock on His right and left hand. Likewise as well within the Christian "Tomb of the Cocks" in Beit Jibrin, which was a Palestinian Arab village located 13 miles northwest of the city of Hebron and part of the Kingdom of Israel, "we find two spirited cocks painted in red in the spandrels with a cross just over the center of the arch". Similarly a multitude of sarcophagi are found with the rooster and the sacred cockfight with the understanding of striving for resurrection and eternal life in Christianity. This sacred subject carved on early Christian tombs, where the sepulchral carvings have an important purpose, "a faithful wish for immortality, with the victory of the cock and his supporting genius analogous to the hope of resurrection, the victory of the soul over death". Similar illustrations of cocks in fighting stance  are found within the Vivian Bible as well as the fighting cocks capitals in the Basilica of St. Andoche in Saulieu and the Cathédrale Saint-Lazare d'Autun provides "alternate documentation" of the rooster and the religious, spiritual and sacred cockfight.
Augustine of Hippo, Catholic saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church understood "a visible sign of an invisible reality" of the rooster to include that as described by St. Augustine in DeOrdine as that which "in every motion of these animals unendowed with reason there was nothing ungraceful since, of course, another higher reason was guiding everything they did".
In the sixth century, it is reputed that Pope Gregory I declared the cock the emblem of Christianity saying the rooster was "the most suitable emblem of Christianity", being "the emblem of St Peter". Some say that it was as a result of this that the cock began to be used as a weather vane on church steeples, and some a Papal enactment of the ninth century ordered the figure of the cock to be placed on every church steeple. It is known that Pope Leo IV had the figure of the cock placed on the Old St. Peter's Basilica or old Constantinian basilica and has served as a religious icon and reminder of Peter's denial of Christ since that time, with some churches still having the rooster on the steeple today. Alternative theories about the origin of weathercocks on church steeples are that it was an emblem of the vigilance of the clergy calling the people to prayer, that it was derived from the Goths and is only possibly a Christian symbol, and that it is an emblem of the sun.
The Vatican Persian cock denoting a sacred and religious vessel acknowledged by and from the Vatican, "a girt one of the loins" of Proverbs 30:31, the Hebrew zarzir, Arabic sarsar, Greek alektor, French coq, Persian bird, Persian cock or the acknowledged rooster from the Hebrew Torah, the Christian Old Testament, the Holy Scriptures of Job, Isaiah and of the Apostles John, Luke, Matthew and Mark, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ may still further be viewed through "A Dictionary of the Bible" which tells us that "Pindar (ca. 522–443 BC), mentions the cock, Homer (ca. 800–750 BC) names a man "gever" the word for a cock and Aristophanes (ca. 446 BC – ca. 386 BC) calls it a Persian bird."
In the Bayeux Tapestry of the 1070s, originally of the Bayeux Cathedral and now exhibited at Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy, there is a depiction of a man installing a rooster on Westminster Abbey.
The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation and over time it became a ceremonial stone with the laying of the stone being generally important metaphorically in sacred architecture. Frazer (2006: p. 106) in The Golden Bough tells us that, "In modern Greece, when the foundation of a new building is being laid, it is the custom to kill a cock, a ram, or a lamb, and to let its blood flow on the foundation-stone".
The understanding of the divine spiritual endowment of the rooster within Islam, may be evidenced in the words of Muhammad of that Abrahamic religion in one of the six canonical hadith collections of Sunni Islam, stating that of "when you hear the crowing of cocks, ask for Allah's Blessings for they have seen an angel".
In Taoism, Hanshi and the spring Hanshi festival were when fires were not used and then relit. Since fire, like the cock a yang symbol and symbol of the sun, was temporarily extinguished and then relit. In a Tao religious aspect, to have a rooster fight another rooster, was the same in substance as a fire-renewal custom, where the rooster and the cockfight then takes its place as an indispensable spring ritual, and "Taoism, which assessed it positively in this form, can be thought to have guaranteed its continued existence". The Hanshi festival was eventually moved to coincide with the Qingming Festival or the Pure Brightness Festival which still includes the rooster and cockfight.
Zoroastrianism, claimed to be "the oldest of the revealed world-religions" and founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) opposed animal sacrifices but held the rooster as a "symbol of light" and associated the cock with "good against evil" because of his heraldic actions. In Iran during the Kianian Period, from about 2000 B.C. to about 700 B.C., among domestic birds, "the cock was the most sacred" and within that religion, the devout, "had a cock to guard him and ward off evil spirits".
The cockerel was already of symbolic importance in Gaul at the time of the invasion of Julius Caesar and was associated with the god Lugus. Today the Gallic rooster is an emblem of France. The rooster is also an emblem of Wallonia and the Turkish city of Denizli.
Among Roman deities, Priapus was sometimes represented as a cock, with its beak as a phallus and its wattles as testicles. The cock or a man with rooster attributes was similarly used as an erotic symbol, Priapus Gallinaceus
A fighting cockerel on a ball is the symbol of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The cockerel wears a pair of spurs which is a reference to the club's nickname. It has been present on their crest and shield since 1901. Additionally, the cockerel is the emblem of Turkish sports club Denizlispor, which was founded in 1966. Also, the supporters of the club are called cockerels. Another soccer club that uses a rooster as its symbol is the Clube Atlético Mineiro, from Brazil. The supporters of the club and the supporters of other Brazilian clubs, often refer to Mineiro as "Galo", which means rooster in Portuguese.
The "Crazy Rooster", a symbol of Clube Atlético Mineiro.
In Australia, the Sydney Roosters, who play in the National Rugby League have adopted the cockerel as its emblem. The Roosters' emblem is a cock with its comb fashioned to represent the Sydney Opera House.
The University of South Carolina features a Gamecock, or fighting cockerel, as its mascot for all athletic programs.
The Coat of arms of Kenya features a rooster holding an axe.
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