Cock (Lat. gallus), a gallinaceous or rasorial bird of the order gallium and family phasi-anidae, originally a native of Asia. The birds of this genus, which includes the numerous varieties of domestic poultry, are distinguished from the pheasants by the crown of the head being naked, and the skin raised into a fleshy comb; by the base of the lower jaw having fleshy lobes or wattles; and by the tail, composed of two planes of feathers folded at a sharp angle, being generally carried erect. In the males the central tail feathers are elongated, and fall gracefully over the rest; the feathers of the neck, lower back, and tail coverts are very full, and assume various shapes. They inhabit the jungles of India and the Asiatic islands; they are polygamous, and the males are exceedingly pugnacious, manifesting their joy when victorious by loud and piercing notes; the males have a brilliant plumage, but the females, or hens, are of a duller color and smaller size. Of the many native species now known, it is difficult to decide from which, if from any, the domesticated races have sprung. It is the prevailing opinion that many species have mixed to produce the common barnyard fowls.
Temminck, who has paid the most attention to this subject, gives the preference to the species G. giganteus and G. Bankiva, from the fact that the females of these resemble in form and structure of the feathers our domestic hens, and that the males resemble the dunghill cock in the great development of comb and wattles. The Jago and the Javan cock are probably the principal wild originals of the domestic breeds; and it is universally admitted that Asia was the primitive seat of the genus, and there also now exist the above mentioned wild species. The Jago cock (G. giganteus, Temm.), of large size, is a native of Sumatra and Java; the comb is thick, slightly raised, and truncated or rounded at the top; the throat is bare, and the wattles of moderate size; the head, neck, and upper back are covered with pale golden-reddish hackles; the middle of the back and lesser wing coverts are deep chestnut, the feathers with disunited webs, the hackles covering the rump and base of the tail reddish yellow; tail large, and, with the greater wing coverts, glossy green; secondaries and quills with the outer webs pale reddish yellow; under parts glossy blackish green, with the base of the feathers deep chestnut, occasionally mottling the under plumage. The height of the cocks is from 2 to 2 1/2 ft.
To this species must probably be referred the large varieties so well known under the names of Chittagongs, Shanghais, Cochin Chinas, and Brahinapootras. The Javan cock (G. Bankiva, Temm.), the type of many of the smaller varieties, and especially resembling many bantams, occurs wild in Java and Sumatra. The skin is bare around the eyes and throat, the comb is large and deeply serrated, and the wattles well developed; the head, back, sides of the neck, and rump are covered with long golden hackles; the upper back is bluish black, the centre of the lesser wing coverts of a deep chestnut, with the webs of the feathers disunited; the greater coverts steel-blue, the secondaries the same, margined with chestnut; the quills brownish black, edged with reddish yellow; the tail black, with metallic reflections; the under parts black. Other wild species, less resembling the domestic fowls, but readily crossing with them, are the following: The bronzed cock (G. aeneus, Cuv.), also from Sumatra, larger than the Javan; the comb is very large, and not serrated; the wattles are small and thick, and with the bare cheeks and throat are bright red; the feathers are not hackled, of a metallic green, with brilliant reflections; the plumes are rich purple, with a broad pale lake border; the tail is purple, with green reflections; under parts deep black, shaded with purple and green.
The fork-tailed cock (G.furcatus, Temm.), a native of Java, a large species, is remarkable for its horizontal and forked tail, its smooth comb, and a large single wattle springing from the centre of the throat and divided into several lobes; the feathers of the head, neck, and upper back are short and rounded, close, velvety, and scale-like; the color of the centre is a deep metallic blue shading into golden green, with a narrow border of deep black; on the lower back and tail coverts the feathers are lengthened, black in the centre, with a narrow edge of yellow; the wing coverts are bordered with orange-red; the under parts are deep black; the hanging tail feathers are metallic green, tinged with steel-hlue; the bill, legs, and feet are yellow; the female has much brown in the plumage, and the under parts gray. This species inhabits thick woods, and is very wild; though rarely domesticated, the males cross readily with domestic hens, and in this way add a puzzling element to the problem of the origin of the common races. Son-nerat's wild cock (G. Sonneratii, Temm.) inhabits the high wooded districts of Hindostan, where it is called by the English sportmen jungle fowl.
It is nearly as large as the domestic fowl, though of more slender proportions; the comb is large and serrated, and the wattles double; the shafts of the hackled feathers, of a golden orange color, in the centre and at the tip are developed into flat horny plates, similar to those of the wings and tail of the Bohemian wax-wing; the centre of the back, the throat, breast, belly, and thighs are deep gray; the tail a rich green; below the hackles the feathers are deep purple with a pale yellow edge, and below these golden green, edged with gray with brilliant metallic reflections. The hen has neither comb nor wattles, and the neck is covered with feathers; the plumage is of a general brown tint above, and grayish white below. Though smaller than game cocks generally, it is very bold and active, and is eagerly sought after by the Mohammedan natives of India tor cock-fighting; it is generally believed that this species has not mixed with the domestic races, except in the breeds kept as game cocks. The negro cock (G. morio, Linn.), originally from India, is remarkable tor its blackish violet crest and wattles, black skin and periosteum; the plumage is of a dark color, with bronzed reflections; this easily becomes domesticated, and crosses readily with other races.
The crisped or Friesland cock (G. crispus, Linn.), considered a distinct species by Temminck and Gray, has the ends of the feathers turned up or frizzled; it is of small size, wild, not very easily domesticated, and is seldom reared except for curiosity; the pure breed is white, with smooth feet. They are quite common in Java, Sumatra, and the Indian archipelago, where the natives rear them. Some authors consider this and the next species mere varieties produced by accident, and perpetuated by accident or design. The silk cock (G. lanatus. Linn.) has the webs of the feathers so disunited that they appear like silk or glossy hairs; the general color is white, and the legs are feathered externally to the toes. It is common in China and Japan, where specimens are sold to Europeans as curiosities. The epidermis is black, and this peculiarity is communicated to the hybrids produced by them and the common fowl, with which they readily cross; the flesh, however, as in the negro fowl, is white and of excellent flavor. The gallinaceous birds are remarkable for the facility with which different species will unite and produce fertile offspring, a peculiarity which renders them doubly valuable to man.
The wild hens do not vary in their plumage like the domestic, but resemble each other individually, being generally of colors intermediate between black and white, these two colors being the result of special care on the part of man to keep breeds unmixed. There are species, however, which must originally have been white, as the G.crispus and G. lana-tus, and such breeds will remain white if not crossed with others. - It would be useless to enter into any description of the external appearance of the common cock and hen; but there are some points of internal structure which may be mentioned. Toward the lower part of the neck the oesophagus is dilated into a first digestive cavity with membranous walls, the crop, in which the food remains a certain time and undergoes a partial softening; below this is a second digestive cavity, small in the gallium, but large in birds having no crop, and secreting a gastric juice; this opens into the third stomach, or gizzard, where chymification is completed; the gizzard is remarkably muscular, and able to commi-nute the hardest food, and even foreign bodies exposed to its continued action; to assist in breaking up the hard grain and seeds on which they feed, the gallium are in the habit of swallowing small pebbles.
The intestinal canal is long, as in vegetable feeders generally, measuring five times the length of the bird; the caeca are six inches long; the testes are probably larger in proportion to the size of the body than in any other bird; the trachea and larynx are capable of being elongated, compressed, or dilated, according to the sounds to be produced. The cock is a proud bird, walking as if conscious of his superior strength; but at the same time he is kind, always inviting his family to eat first of any food he may have discovered, and protecting them from the attacks of all enemies. Now and then a hen essays to crow, but she is generally a barren and useless fowl, despised by her associates and the pest of the farm yard. The cock is very pugnacious, and will always measure his strength with one of his own sex; this propensity is noticed in very young specimens. The male begins to propagate at about the age of three months, and his vigor lasts about three years, though he may live to the age of ten; one is sufficient for 15 or 20 females. The cock is a very clean bird, and spends much of his time in arranging his feathers; his voice, if not soft and melodious, is clear, sonorous, and exhilarating.
The cock was a favorite bird with the Greeks and Romans, and is frequently represented on their coins; the ancient philosophers dedicated it to Apollo, Mercury, Mars, and AEsculapius, and thought it the most acceptable sacrifice they could offer to their deities; in later times, the crowing of the cock was supposed to be the signal at which all spirits, whether good or evil, must retire from mortal sight. Like other domesticated races, cocks and hens are very liable to monstrosity; double-headed and four-footed chickens are common in collections. Hens, if properly housed, will lay even in the coldest weather in temperate regions; having laid 18 or 20 eggs, they show a disposition to sit upon them, but if the eggs are taken away they continue laying. As the gallium can eat without assistance as soon as they leave the egg, instinct teaches the hen to lay as many eggs as she can cover and keep warm with her body. Like all birds, the hen, if left free to act, will lay her eggs and hatch her brood in some hidden place, and return to the poultry yard with her chickens in excellent condition. The young leave the egg on the 20th day.
The affection of the hen for her young is remarkable; as the cock is a model husband and father, the hen is the pattern of a tender and faithful mother. - For epicurean purposes, man has from ancient times been in the habit of removing the testes of the cock; this mutilation renders the birds, called capons, indifferent to sexual and fighting propensities, and causes them to grow fat, with all the whiteness, tenderness, and delicacy of a chicken; the voice loses its shrillness, and their whole demeanor renders them liable to the insult of both cocks and hens, and they require special protection that they may eat, drink, sleep, and grow fat. Capons may be taught to perform some of the offices of the female; they have been taught to hatch out eggs by covering them with their bodies, and to take the care of the young brood. Hens are sometimes deprived of their ovaries, and the flavor of their flesh is said to be thereby much improved. - Various artificial processes of incubation have been tried; the ancient Egyptians were peculiarly successful in their processes, and their hatching ovens furnished in old times 100 millions of chickens annually; other nations, the French particularly, have invented various kinds of hatching apparatus.
By the Egyptian process more than two thirds of the eggs produced chickens, while the hen, upon an average, cannot hatch more than half of the eggs. - Domestication has produced many changes in the form and size of the cock, especially in the crest, wattles, and arrangement of the feathers on the body and legs. The game cock stands at the head of the domestic varieties, from which it does not appear to differ except in its superior strength and courage; the best breed is generally believed to be the G. Bankiva without any crossing with other varieties; the East Indians prize the G. gigantevs and the G. Sonneratii as game cocks. Cock fighting was practised among the Greeks and Romans, and was introduced into England by the latter nation, and it is a favorite sport in the East Indies and in Spanish America. In this sport the plumage is trimmed, to make the bird lighter and more active and give its antagonist less hold upon it; the legs are armed with an artificial steel spur, called a gaff or gaffle, capable of inflicting a speedily fatal wound. When cock fighting was the favorite sport of kings and nobles, as much attention was paid to keeping the breed pure as was bestowed upon the race horse.
The game cock is valuable, independently of his courage; the hens are small eaters, good layers, determined sitters, strong, rarely sick, and very solid and heavy. - Preeminent among the modern favorites are the large Malay and Chinese varieties, embracing the Chittagongs, Shanghais, Cochin Chinas, and Brahmapootras, which are probably all varieties of the G. gi-ganteus, variously crossed. The Chittagongs were originally brought from Malacca; they stand high on their legs, are long-necked, and are usually dark brown, streaked with yellow or white; they present a very striking appearance, and form an excellent cross with the common fowl, possessing the hardiness of the latter with the large size of the foreign stock. The Shanghai variety weigh as much when five months old as the full-grown common kind; they may be black, yellowish, or white, bare-legged or feathered, and all equally good. The pure variety is large, with a round short body, broad breast and back, and closely feathered; when a year old, the male should weigh from 10 to 12 lbs., and the female from 8 to 9 lbs. They are little disposed to roam or do mischief in the garden; they are good layers, and their flesh is yellow, juicy, and of delicate flavor.
The Cochin Chinas, considered by many the same as the Shanghai, are very large; the general color is a rich glossy brown or deep bay, with a black horse-shoe marking on the breast; the comb is moderate, serrated, and the wattles double. From their ability to double up the posterior half of the wing and to bring it forward between the body and the anterior half, they are sometimes called ostrich fowl. The flesh is white and delicate; the eggs are large, chocolate-colored, and of excellent flavor; and they are good layers. The Chinese fowls were imported from Canton about 25 years ago, and somewhat resemble the Cochin Chinas in size and color; they are good layers; the eggs are buff or nankeen color, and the flesh is good; they are hardy, peaceable, and easily raised; their wings are so short that they cannot fly over ordinary fences, and it is necessary that their perches should not be more than two feet from the ground, nor above each other. The Brahmapootras are either a gray variety of the Shanghai or a cross between the latter and the Chittagong; they are excellent layers, and their eggs are twice the size of a common hen's egg; a pair will weigh from 18 to 24 lbs.; crossed with the Dorking breed, it is very handsome.
The Dorking breed, so called from the English town of Dorking in Surrey, are of large size and good shape, and if pure should have two toes behind instead of one; the silk fowl also is seen with five toes, and even a greater number of toes has been found, a peculiarity which by great care might become the characteristic of a breed. The color originally was pure white, but they are now generally seen speckled or mottled with black or gray. The flesh is white and delicate; they are good layers, and easily reared and fattened. This breed is supposed by Dickson to have originated from a cross of the Malay with the game fowl. The males weigh from 7 to 9 lbs., the females from 5 to 7 lbs.; when bred in and in for a long time, the comb becomes double. The black Poland, instead of a comb, has the head covered with feathers, which sometimes form a crest overhanging the eyes; there are also white, silver, or golden Polands, according to the general color; the first named is black, with a white topknot; all varieties with topknots are called Polands by the English. They are very ornamental, and excellent layers, but so little inclined to sit that their eggs are often put under other hens; they fatten quickly, and their flesh is considered by many as equal to that of the Dorkings. This breed is said to have been carried to Europe by the Spaniards from Santiago. The black Spanish fowl is a large breed, with high-colored comb and wattles, doubtless the result of high culture; the general color is black, and the feathers of the legs, thighs, and belly are velvety; the feet and legs are lead-colored; the distinguishing character is the silvery white cheek pieces; they are excellent for the table, and layers of the first order, and cross advantageously with the common fowl; from their wildness they are good for ranging over large farms; the male weighs from 4 to 6 lbs., the female from 3 to 4 lbs.
The Fayal fowls are the same. The Bolton grays have the plumage silvery white, with minute and uniform pencillings of black; their forms are small, neat, and rounded, the comb double-rowed and sharp-pointed, the wattles large and round, and the ear lobes white; they are good layers, easily kept, hardy, and moderate eaters; they are also called Hamburgs, of which there are the varieties, Creole, silver and gold spangled, and pencilled Hamburgs. The small race of bantams, so named from a town in Java, are distinguished by their plumed legs, a variation caused by cultivation and high feeding; some have topknots, others have the legs naked; there is a dwarf variety, not larger than a pigeon; the Turkish cock seems to differ from the bantam only in the naked legs. Many extensive breeders are of opinion that the native yellow-legged fowl is as profitable as any foreign breed; of course they vary much, according to the mixture of varieties; they ought to lay from 150 to 250 eggs in a year, but probably, as generally kept, they do not average more than 30, and their average weight would not exceed 2 1/2 lbs.
Sonnerafs Jungle Fowl (Gallus Sonneratii).