Record such weight day by day on a chart right to the quarter ounce so you can determine whether a cock is gaining or losing weight which is a excellent indication of his health, and whether or not he is prospering on the quality and quantity of feed he is receiving. A cock should be at about his proper fighting weight when he enters the keep following a week or two of the preconditioning process. During the two week "keep" period I like to drop him off an ounce or two through the quality and quantity of feed during the early part of the keep, and then bring him up toward the end of the keep so that he weighs as much as when he entered the keep or an ounce or two more. Make such increases and decreases in weight gradually. Don't go to excesses in achieving such results. I he does not change don't fret about it. Such uniformity in weight indicates that a cock is just about right in weight, and you should not attempt to change it.
By all means concentrate on having a cock "coming up" in weight, health, spirit,, and freshness as the day of battle approaches. Note especially Spirit and Freshness. If the cock does not have those qualities the minute he enters the pit, and has become stale or "gone by" as some men express it, he is an almost certain loser no matter how much you have done for him during the preceding four weeks. Many good cockers make their selections on the day of the fight based largely on a cock's freshness and eagerness on fight day regardless of how he has shown in his previous sparring sessions.
I am a great believer in freshness and in having lots of moisture in cocks’ tissues when fought. One excellent cocker I know who has a splendid record for setting down cutting cocks attributes much of his success to having cocks with a lot of moisture in their muscles. He actually forces in the moisture by feeding aloof oatmeal soaked in buttermilk, and a lot old stale bread soaked in water. Personally, I think he overdoes this feature of feeding, but you can't argue with success. My own fowl have a splendid reputation for cutting, and I always have plenty of moisture in their systems. Certain it is that a cock will hit short and not "reach out" with his blows.
The matter of a cock's proper fighting weight is a topic of dispute among even the best conditioners. Some men like for a cock to carry two, four, or even six ounces more flesh than other equally good conditioners. Both win and apparently show equally strong and durable fowl. Some families, and especially round headed fowl, seem to require more meat on them than others. You don't want any gut fat in them . That's sure. But other than that you'll have to come to your own decision as to your fowl's proper fighting weight based upon your experience and observations. In any event, approach this problem with an open mind and don't be a slave to the scales or preconceived ideas. Base your judgment on what you observe with your own fowl. Read Continuation here
Probably the most important feature of the feeding, as well as all other procedures in the conditioning program, is that of timing, or of having the fowl at their peak at the hour of battle. It is no good to have them "ready" or at their peak, two days or even two hours prior to battle. They must "peak" at the hour they enter the pit. Many features contribute to this condition, but from a feeding standpoint the important part is to have them "comin up" just prior to battle, and fresh. To accomplish this you must feed less (mostly cracked corn), excercise less, and rest more-- complete rest the last 72 hours prior to battle. Not over one-half the feed the eveing before fight day unless fought at night and then only one-half white of hard boiled egg. Through this procedure, cocks will come up in weight, even on less feed, and be hungry and " a walkin' and talkin' in your hands" as they enter the pit.
Some conditioners endeavor to control this timing, or peaking, through the use of various drugs. I find that the best overall, and the most consistent, results are obtained by foloowing the procedure outlined here.
4oz. powdered charcoal
2oz. ground mustard
2oz. ground ginger
2 oz. red pepper
2 oz. cinnamon
1/2 oz. carbonate of iron (if obtainable)
Sprinkle liberally on moist feed like salt
"This is an appetite stimulator only. Use all during the keep."
The matter of selection of the fowl to be shown at a specific time is of the utmost importance to the cocker who wants to win. You have up a show of 12 birds from which you must show eight. Which ones should you use? In this respect, I always think of the advice given me by Elmer Ernhart of York, Pennsylvania, over thirty years ago. He said : "Take only your Aces to the pit. Leave the Kings and Queens at home." Again: "Play no favorites, select your show from the ones which are "ready" today."On the negative side I often think of the advice given me by my father who said; "Many an attorney accepts a case which at first he thinks has no chance of success. But the more he works on the case he becomes convinced he has a chance, then when the verdict goes against him he is sunk." It is the same way with cocking. We put a second rate bird in the keep, but he improves and we "talk ourselves" into believing that he can win. But he doesn't.
So beware of "talking yourself" into a win. Rather follow the advice of old Elmer: "Take only the Aces to the pit." The Kings and Queens,well, use them for hacking or leave them at home. The chances are that they will meet someone else Ace and you will have a zero on the scoreboard.