|By Pinoy Farmer | February 5, 2008|
Gamefowl breeding is a tedious and lengthy undertaking that requires full time attention. If you don’t have the heart for it, don’t do it. The good thing about gamefowl breeding as a business though is that, locally nowadays, there exist a big and lucrative market for fighting cocks. Many beginners get their initiation into cockfighting and gamefowl breeding usually through family or friends.
When asked what they like most about breeding, majority of rooster-raisers would say it’s the joy of coming out with a winner by their own design. Acquire as much information as you can about gamefowl breeding before even buying a single rooster.
Start by visiting some experienced cockers and observing methods of raising gamefowl. You can also learn so much from readily available reading materials and videos on the subject. If you’re an internet user, a number of good websites about cockfighting can provide some of the information that you need and you can also meet cockers and friends from all parts of the world who could be more than willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
Start within your budget and with the right planning.
Plan your breeding within the limits of your time and budget. As time goes on, you can keep your numbers down through selective breeding and hatching. And you must be willing to cull any defective or inferior birds. Huge farm is not a must to raise quality gamefowls. Quality is more important than quantity. Prepare your yard and have some housing ready for them.
Start with the right broodstocks.
It is said that “the end justify the means”, but, although this may be true at some extent, in gamefowl breeding the end result comes a little bit longer than others that you can not just try any means for a shooting-an-arrow-in-the-dark end. Veteran rooster-raisers always say that gamefowl breeding becomes very expensive and wasteful when you start with cheap brood stocks. That is cheap in every sense of the word.
The first rule is to make sure that what you are breeding is the right stuff or close to it. In choosing a good brood stock, one must take into consideration the following steps:
a) Scout for winning bloodlines of breeders who have established names in the field or breeders who are on a winning streak;
b) Choose which bloodline do you intend to produce;
c) If possible, find out the family tree of your preferred bloodline;
d) Try to seek the best source of the brood stocks that you need;
e) When you have identified the best source try to get from him the best that he got, even if you have to pay more;
One thing in common among those who became successful in gamefowl breeding is the fact that they all placed considerable investment on their brood stocks.
Partners Peter Uy & Joseph Choa never leave any stone unturned when they are buying seed fowls in the United States. Tukaan producer-host Emoy Gorgonia revealed that if Peter & Joseph are offered a broodcock priced at $1,500, they would simply offer back $2,000 for a better one or an ever higher amount for a rooster that is supposedly not for sale. They look not for the physical features, but for a rooster’s potential to produce winners. Today, the partner’s farm in Antipolo City is one of most preferred source of brood stocks locally.
A good example of someone who started it right, although, he admits that he had to spend more than a million peso as “tuition fee” before he learned his lessons is Sonny Lagon. With only four years of serious breeding behind him, Lagon has earned his place among the country’s finest game fowl breeders. When he found out the right source of the brood stocks that he needed, Bruce Barnette of Alabama, Sonny immediately made his move. During one of his early visits to Barnette’s farm, Lagon wanted to buy a particular rooster, but, was told that it was not for sale. When Sonny insisted, Barnette jokingly told him that he would only let go of the rooster for $5,000. Right there and then, Sonny handed Bruce $5,000. The rooster may not be worth that much, however, Sonny was able to earn Barnette’s attention, trust and later on, friendship.
There are those who had been in the breeding business for years, but never got off the ground. Why? Because they started with the wrong or untested brood stocks. They probably got bargain seed fowls in the beginning, but ended up spending more and losing their investments in the long run. And in game fowl breeding or in any endeavor, something that is started wrong can never be made right.
Important things that you should know
a) Strain – a strain is a family of gamebirds that have the same physical characteristics and easily recognizable traits that make them different from the others and they must also have the ability to reproduce themselves to be considered a strain. Basically, all gamefowl breeds are man made designs that first stem from the Wild Red Jungle Fowl of Southeast Asia (the local labuyo perhaps). Through selective breeding, we now have the birds we see today. Creating a strain is the result of one man’s vision. It is developed through selective breeding, for many generations with a single family.
b) Single breeding – a cock bred with a single hen or rotating that cock with three or four hens that are individually penned.
c) Group breeding – is breeding a cock with a group of hens. It is similar to flock breeding except a smaller amount of hens are bred to only oen cock at a time.
Specialize in only one or two breeds at the most.
The first thing to consider when you aim to be a breeder of fine quality gamefowl is to specialize in one or two breeds at the most. This could be done through line breeding, inbreeding, out-crossing, semi-outcrossing and infusion.
a) Line Breeding – is the most common form of maintaining a strain. This is when a cock is bred to his mother, grand-mother or even his great-grandmother or if a pullet is bred to her father, grandfather or her great-grandfather. Breeding to their aunts, uncles or even to their cousins will also work.
b) Inbreeding – is the breeding of brother to sister. It is important when you need to accentuate or lock in the good genes or traits of your strain.
c) Out-crossing – is when you bring in new blood. The main purpose of out-crossing is to produce battlecocks. These are the ones that you’re going to fight or sell.
d) Hybrid vigor –the main reason for out-crossing is to establish a high degree of Hybrid vigor. To breed an individual that is better, faster, stronger, smarter and gamer than his parents is the result of hybrid vigor.
Sex of a chick is not a cocks’ fault.
A cock has thirty-nine pairs of chromosomes composed of one pair of sex chromosome and thirty-eight pairs of autonomic chromosomes, while, a hen has one sex chromosome instead of a pair. A cock gives a sex chromosome to every fertilized egg, but a hen gives her sex chromosome to maybe 50% of the fertilized eggs she lay. If the fertilized egg receives sex chromosomes from both the cock and the hen, it will hatch to be a stag (male), but if the egg only has a sex chromosome from the cock, it will hatch out to be a pullet (female).
Remember that as much as possible, always keep youth to one side of the breeding. Breed a proven hen, which is at least two years old, to a young brood cock and vice-versa.
With this information, I guess you can now start in gamefowl breeding. Of course, be sure to provide your birds with the best nutrition and health care available. A comprehensive vaccination program is a must considering that game birds are very susceptible to a wide range of avian pests and poultry diseases.
Lastly, keep track of each chick’s ancestry by keeping good records, giving each brood cock or brood hen its own identification code and marking each of their chicks with the identity off the breeding that produced it. This can be done with toe punching and nose marking, then later with wing and legbands. Through, this you’ll be able to identify which pair of breeding to continue with or to stop.