Is Dubbing a Rooster Illegal

Is Dubbing a Rooster Illegal? (Laws and Reasons Explained)

Dubbing a rooster, which is the process of removing a rooster’s wattles, comb, or earlobes, is often the topic of controversy.

Historically, dubbing has been used to remove wattles and combs of roosters being used for cockfighting, which is where most of the bad stigma comes from.

The fact is, however, that dubbing a rooster or any chicken is often necessary and in the best interest of the bird.

Here is a closer look at what dubbing is, the pros and cons of this procedure, and whether or not it’s illegal to dub a rooster or a chicken:

What Is Dubbing a Rooster?

Dubbing in poultry is the procedure of removing a comb, wattles, or earlobes. It’s also less commonly called ‘de-combing’ or ‘de-wattling’ sometimes.

The most common reason to dub a rooster is to remove large wattles or combs that are at risk of frostbite, being pecked at, or some other health-related issues.

It’s also performed on some breeds, in particular, that are kept as show birds and need to conform to a certain look and the APA Standard of Perfection.

Is Dubbing a Rooster Illegal?

First of all, I have to point out that you should always check with your local animal welfare office if there is any guidance as to how you should dub a rooster where you live.

I can’t be sure where you’re located when answering this question, but what I can tell you is that generally speaking, across the US it’s not illegal to dub a rooster.

There are some organizations that are outspoken against dubbing, such as the RSPCA in Australia, which opposes dubbing for the sake of showing a rooster.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council in the UK has also been outspoken about dubbing, stating that any welfare advantages the person doing the dubbing claims do not outweigh the stress of the procedure on the chicken.

Interestingly, however, the National Chicken Council (NCC) lists dubbing as an acceptable procedure but beneficial to the welfare of a rooster and their flock.

For those who are not familiar with the NCC, they’re “the national, non-profit trade association whose primary purpose is to serve as the advocate and voice for the U.S. broiler chicken industry in Washington, D.C.” 

So, to answer the question with opinions aside, as far as I can find out dubbing a rooster is not illegal in most states when carried out for the right reasons.

Related A look at when it’s the best time to dub a rooster.

Is Dubbing a Rooster Painful?

Obviously, dubbing involves cutting and removing parts of a chicken that have nerve endings so it can be painful.

Despite what I’ve heard some people say, chickens feel pain like any animal does.

Therefore the humane way to dub a chicken is to use an anesthetic so they do not feel pain. Or the pain they feel is at least going to be minimal.

Although a simple procedure and one many people carry out with a pair of dubbing scissors, dubbing is best left up to an avian vet or another animal welfare professional.

If you’re not experienced performing dubbing or similar types of procedures you could easily end up causing a rooster some trauma.

You need to use a chemical to reduce bleeding and know how to properly care for the wound afterward, too.

In Summary

Dubbing is a controversial topic in some circles, but it’s a legal procedure that’s performed to remove the comb, wattle, or earlobes of a rooster.

It’s most commonly done for the good of a rooster’s health. A large comb can become obstructive while a chicken eats, as well as becoming a target for other roosters or hens in the flock.

It’s also done for cosmetic reasons to meet show standards.

Some Specific Questions Related to Dubbing Roosters

Is It Illegal to Dub a Rooster in Florida?

To answer if it’s illegal to dub roosters in Florida, specifically, I took a look at Florida’s Animal Welfare Act.
I was directed to the Animal fighting venture prohibition legislature 7 U.S.C. § 2156, and nowhere in this document does it say that dubbing is prohibited or illegal.

Is It Illegal to Dub a Rooster in California?

Dubbing is not illegal in California, but much like looking at Florida animal welfare law, it’s hard to find anything about dubbing mentioned.
597b of the Penal Code addresses cockfighting, which is illegal in California. But it doesn’t mention dubbing as part of this code, so it’s fine if you do it for showing cockerels or roosters, or their health.

Are Game Roosters Legal?

Game roosters bred for the purpose of cockfighting are illegal. Partaking in cockfighting in any form is illegal in all 50 states, and carries some serious punishments.
Because dubbing was so common in the cockfighting world, making this ‘sport’ illegal dramatically reduced the number of roosters being dubbed.


Image credits – Image by ELG21 from Pixabay

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