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How to start a successful game farm and gamefowl breeding business

Breeding fighting cocks in the Philippines is a lucrative but high-risk business. The country is one of the only very few sovereign states in the world where cockfighting is legal as long as the operator has necessary permits issued by the government.

Cockfighting industry in the Philippines

According to the  Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the sabong (cockfighting) industry in the country is worth P50 billion ($1B) annually. Jarius Bondoc of the Philippine Star claims the industry earns P1. 5 billion ($75.2M) a day.

There are around 200 game farms in the country with at least 1,000 heads of gamefowls and more than a thousand backyard breeders with at least 100 heads. According to Manny Berbano of Pitgames Media, the demand for fighting cocks every month is around 1 million birds.

What is Gamefarm?

A game farm, or game farm, in the US and Europe is a place where animals are raised for hunting. This is the normal definition in the United States and other countries but in the cockfighting world, the game farm is different.

A game farm is a place where gamefowls (gamecocks, fighting cocks, or gamefowls) are bred, raised, and trained for cockfighting. A game farm for fighting cocks is not an ordinary farm. It has facilities like a boxing gym (ring) where stags are trained to fight. It also has wide space with sheds for each fowl. The size of the game farm depends on the number of birds the company is raising. It can be as small as 1,000 square meters or as big as 10 hectares or more.

Starting a game farm and gamefowl breeding business

Rafael “Nene” Abello – one of the biggest names in gamefowl breeding in the country

Like any other traditional business, many people have tried to open and run a gamefowl breeding business and failed. This is because of several factors that I will enumerate below. 

Major reasons why a game farm could fail

  1. Has passion but lack of experience
  2. Poor and low-quality bloodlines
  3. Poor game record
  4. Inexperienced farm people
  5. Mismanagement and losing interest
  6. Bankruptcy due to gambling loses
  7. Fowl epidemic and diseases

1. Has a passion for gamebirds but lacking in experience

Passion does not always mean business. Hobbies do not always convert into profit. Many people start breeding because they think they love gamefowls but because of lack of experience, they fail. Others get interested because his neighbor or his friend is making products and he wants to emulate them. This type of mentality is always the main ingredient for failure. 

2. Poor and low-quality bloodline

The success of every gamefarm and breeding business relies solely on the quality of the breeders. If we think of the most popular breeds and bloodlines like Hatch, Lemon, Sweater, Kelso, Roundhead, and others, the people who developed and bred these powerful bloodlines started with quality birds. High-quality broodcocks and broodhens are expensive and this is where most of your initial capital would go. Whar is a broodcock? A broodcock is a Filipino-invented English term for a rooster with a winning bloodline used for breeding. It’s like a stallion when talking about horses. 

3. Poor game record

This cannot be achieved if the problem starts at item no. 2 above. A gamefarm could make or break in just one derby championship. The success of the business depends on its track record. This is the type of business where your success is purely based on your performance. If you gamecocks are always losing, who would buy your product? None! So, in order to have quality fighting cocks you must have quality breeders first.

4. Inexperienced farm people

Any business run and operated by inexperienced people will eventually fail. There is no long explanation for this as this is pretty straightforward. Look for experienced handlers who had experienced working with other similar farms with good track records and history. A good handler from a winning farm is preferred.

5. Mismanagement and losing interest

This reason is mostly a result of the above failures. When the owner cannot find a good bloodline, a good farm manager, and is always losing, chances are, he may lose hope and interest that could eventually lead to total farm closure. Other owners also rely heavily on lazy farm managers especially when the oner is not “hands-on” or have a full-time job like being an OFW or a top government official.

6. Bankruptcy due to gambling loses

Cockfighting is gambling and gambling is addictive. Most successful breeders focused only on breeding and not on the gambling side of the industry. A real breeder put up his business with the purpose of selling his quality products and not gambling his operating capital and income. Breeders join games and derbies not only to make money but the main purpose is to make names. But a gambler business owner would join in every cockfight betting here and there without minding the reputation of his gamefarm.

7. Fowl epidemic and diseases

Although very rare, an entire farm could be wiped out of it is not properly managed. Another factor is thieves. Gamefowl thieves are everywhere that’s why before starting a business and building a farm, consider the safety and security of your property.

Now that you know the above reasons why a gamefarm business could fail, it is easier to avoid these instances. We can then continue with other things to prepare.

Before making a decision, consider the following:

  • Financial capital
  • Experience
  • Manpower
  • Other resources

1. Financial capital

Opening a gamefarm needs a lot of money regardless of its size. If you are planning to maintain around 100 gamecocks all the time, you can start with 2 sets of trios. A trio means 2 hens and 1 rooster. If you have 2 sets this means you have 4 hens and 2 roosters of different bloodlines. In today’s cost, the standard price of trio of good quality breeders from big names like Nene Abello is around P70,000. For your breeder alone, you need P150,000 to P200,000. Your four hens can produce 400 to 500 chicks a year and around half of them are males so maintaining 100 to 150 gamefowls a year is possible.

Your expenses didn’t stop here though. You need a budget for teh whole year since it will take at least a year before you can sell your homegrown gamefowls. You need to pay at least 1 person to take care of and feed your birds. You need to construct a building, rent or buy a lang, and buy accessories like feeders, ropes, leg bands, etc. Feeds, vitamins, and vaccines need to be computed in advance as well. Factor all of these and you may need a million peso as start-up capital and another  P300,000 operating fund for the first year of operation.

2. Experience

Do you have hands-on experience on how to breed, grow, feed, and train these birds? If not, do you know someone you can hire, trust, and rely on? If not then don’t even dream of opening this risky business.

3. Manpower

Again for at least 100 heads, you need a farm boy. Not just a farm boy but someone who has experience and passion. This is not construction work where you can just hire someone to do the labor and pay him minimum. You need someone you can trust. You need someone to live the best part of his life on your farm so you should select the best person or people. 

4. Other resources

Other resources include connections. This is important because you can ask them for opinions and suggestions on where to buy this and that, what to do about this and about that, and etc. If your family owns the land then that’s another big resource, or, if your family owns land with indigenous materials that can be used in the structure like bamboo and trees for lumber. Sometimes, people start this type of business because they already have most of teh resources at hand.

Assuming all of the above are met, it’s time to start planning.

1. The location of your planned gamefarm

A gamefarm should be far from residential areas. If you have a small piece of land inside your subdivision, don’t even try. Gamefowls are loud and noisy and your neighbors will not like them. Avoid creating problems in your neighborhood and community. We heard this before when Raffy Tulfo ordered a backyard farm in Cavite to close after neighbors complained. Make sure there is a supply of water and electricity. 

2. Permits

You need to secure a permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). You can find the complete steps on how to acquire this on their website here. Remember that this permit is different from the business permit that you have to secure first from Baranggay and then the Mayor’s Permit from City or Municipal Hall.

3. Don’t rush, build first

Too much excitement is another recipe for disaster. Before bringing in your breeders, make sure your farm is complete and secured. Putting everything to normal is the key to success.

4. Don’t buy expensive equipment yet

Don’t buy a 500-egg capacity incubator when you just have 6 hens. It is total nonsense. Start with small and scale up later. You can use the fund for something else while gaining additional knowledge in incubating. 

5. Financial management is very important

Make sure to record everything and all of the expenses related to your farm’s operation. This is very important so you have a basis when your farm starts to make money after 8 months later. 

6. Additional knowledge is important

Even big breeders continue to learn. There is no limit on how much knowledge you can learn while running your own business. From egg handling to incubating, to hatching, to taking care of day-old chicks, vaccinating, feeding, training, conditioning – you have a lot to learn. 

7. Create a website for your farm

A website (not just a Facebook Page) is vital to the marketing of your business. Not many people know how to make a website but it’s not a problem anymore.Contact Us if you need one and we will create a beautiful website for your business.

8. Integration and other sources of income

If you have extra space, planting vegetables and other crops is another way to help your farm lower its expenses especially on feeds. Feeding vegetables and other crops when your chicken is young is not a problem. Your farmboy could also benefit if you plant another crop. 

Integration of other agricultural products is the best way to maximize the farm’s income. Farming is also a good activity for the mind and body.

I hope you like this simple but realistic idea. If you want to add something, please leave a comment below.

Gamecock for rent (closing additional information)

Many breeders who are making a living are not career gamblers. Recently, a number of breeders in Negros offer their gamecock for rent. This is a win-win for cockers and breeders because for whatever agreement both parties may have if they lost in a game, the cocker only lost money but not the bird while the breeder only lost the bird but not money (unless he place a big bet). So, if you are planning to start a game farm business, take a look at this gamefowl-for-rent business model.

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