Category Archives: Negros Breeders

Breeding Tips from Nestor Espinel

breeding pen

Inside a breeding pen at the farm of Nestor Espinel.

Success comes to those who work hard…and work smart.

Nestor Espinel of Bacolod City is pretty much a hands-on game fowl breeder who doesn’t have a farm manager. He goes to his farm everyday not just to check here and there but to work. He sometimes even personally transports the feeds.

While he does have hired hands already, Nestor still keeps a rigid control over his farm. When derby time comes, he handles conditioning and the final preparations for the fight. He also installs the knives on his entries.

Pure blue face hatch

A green legged pure blue face hatch.

This successful breeder has worked hard for what he has that is why he is keeping a tight rein on what he has already achieved. He does not waste his resources, which is why he keeps the number of workers in his farm to a minimum. At his conditioning farm in Gardenville, Bacolod City, Nestor only has four men while the breeding area has three. During the breeding season, however, he just hires extra hands in order to keep up with the extra work. On easy months, these people are let go in order to save up on salaries and other expenses. Nestor does this so that his farm remains not only profitable but also sustainable.

In terms of game fowl nutrition, Nestor says that he takes advantage of the free advice given by veterinarians on retainers with feed and nutritional companies. He is very thankful that these companies give full support to local breeders like him through ambulatory clinics and veterinary advice. Nestor uses different brands of supplements and medications but is loyal to only one brand of feeds.

cord area

Nestor's cord area in Gardenville, Barangay Tangub, Bacolod City

Nestor is also keen on keeping the farm clean so that disease can be prevented or at least easily controlled. He shares that one big concern now is that new strains of diseases are coming out. Sometimes, they would notice a symptom and then they would administer a medication immediately. As it turns out, the new infection is just simulating the symptoms of another but is not exactly the same. Only through a laboratory testing are these strains identified. Nestor shares that their fowls all have complete vaccination and they give antibiotics every month as prevention.

During breeding, Nestor uses an incubator for faster production and also to cut on costs. As an enterprise, using the incubator is economically viable, he explains. The chicks stay in the brooder for a week after which they are released in a cage on the ground. The cage still has lights on to keep them warm, especially at night. From three weeks onwards, the young birds are then ranged.

pure dink fair

Pure Dink Fair

Since Nestor also handles the conditioning of his entries, he relies on his good sense in the selection of his birds. Primarily, he looks at the birds that are brave, high flying, and not aggressive. “They have to be smart fighters,” Nestor says. After selection, the chosen birds and then prepared for about a month with a special diet, beefed up supplementation, and exercise.

Nestor Espinel has certainly gone a long way from just feeding the chickens at his father’s backyard farm in Silay City when he was a young boy. He is now an established breeder in Negros who has made a name for himself through hard work, perseverance, and an effective breeding system. He has won awards for his breeding and has gained recognition among his peers. Now, the only way to go is higher.

Note: Buyers may reach Nestor Espinel in Bacolod City at Mobile No. 0917-4082021.

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Nestor Espinel–Building Fighting Cocks

Nestor Espinel

Nestor Espinel at his spar pit.

Bacolod-based breeder Nestor Leonida Espinel, 47, had always been a hardworking man. While finishing his management course from the West Negros College (now a University), he was a working student in order to support himself and his studies.

After college, he worked as Chief Security at the Riverside Hospital from 1983 to 1989, and since then he got into bodybuilding and eventually became a Progressive Resistance Training (PRT) Instructor in the same institution.

But aside from his regular job, Nestor was also a part-time karate instructor and on weekends, he was a gaffer to many clients on the pit. Sometimes, he would also accept conditioning jobs from some breeders.

All these things he did, not wasting a moment and life had been good to him.

Nestor and His Game Farm
Eventually, the beckoning of the breeding industry became too loud to bear that Nestor gave in and followed the call. He left his full-time job to concentrate on his breeding in 1995 and since then, he has never regretted that life-changing decision. His body building principles have been shifted in the body building of game fowls.

For someone who had been in love with game birds ever since he was a preschooler, going into commercial breeding was a dream come true. He first occupied a small space in the farm of his friend Jessie Divinagracia in Mambukal, Murcia with materials from another friend, Leo Dano. His bloodlines were primarily of the Blue Face Hatch lineage from the late premier breeder, Emmanuel “Mame” Lacson.

Nestor admits that his breeding then was pretty much the result of a lot trials and corresponding errors. But he persisted in his experiments and eventually established his own system, proving first hand the things that work and those that don’t. He admits that even being a gaffer, he was self taught.

In 2000, Nestor was blessed to be able to acquire new materials. From known Negros breeder Joe Laureño, Nestor got some Dink Fair, Hatchett, Cowan Roundhead, and Sweater breeding stock.

Because of his expansion, the place in Mambucal became too crowded already. So Nestor moved his breeding to a one-hectare lot in Bendito, Brgy. Alangilan, Bacolod City in 2005. Aside from the move, the year 2005 was a big year because during this time he got married to his supportive wife Ritchel with whom he now has two daughters, Althea Nichelle and Athena Nicolette.

Two years later, Nestor again moved to a four-hectare leased property in Cabutungan, also in Alangilan. At present, he is producing around 700 heads per season of his signature breeds—the Dink Fair and the Blueface Hatch. These are sold to buyers that mostly come from Cebu and Manila.

Given ample finances, Nestor plans to grow his farm to produce 1000 heads per season and to sell more breeding materials.


Nestor poses with his farm hands and some of their trophies

Memorable Derby Victories
Nestor admits that his main reason for venturing into breeding is for business. He has proven that the breeding of game fowls, with the proper management, can be a profitable source of livelihood.

But breeding is the kind of business that requires one to join associations and their subsequent derbies. Nestor is a member of the NGBA, GF-BAN, Bakbakan, and NSSA where he meets new friends and clients.

And since he joins in derbies, even for the purpose of marketing, he is given the chance to fight and prove that his game birds are of the superior kind. In 2007 and 2008, he was co-champion in the GF-BAN 8-Stag Derby. As if the two championships are not enough, he was also hailed as GF-BAN Breeder of the Year in 2008 after earning 13 straight wins in the 8-stag derby and the 5-stag clean up derby. It was also in the same year that his entry was the only one that qualified for the Bakbakan finals in Manila, earning 8.5 points in the 10-stag event.

nestor espinel family

Nestor with the three women in his life–wife Ritchel and two daughters, Althea and Athena.

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Lair of Breeders

Note: “Lair of Breeders” was originally published at Re-published with permission. Original story here complete with photos: Lair of Breeders.

Aside from sugar and the Masskara Festival, there is another industry that Negros Occidental is known for—the breeding of fighting cocks. All over the country, Negros is known to be the lair of the best breeders in the country.

I have traveled the country from Tuguegarao to General Santos City in search for the best breeders of the country when my partner and I were tasked to interview and photograph the most famous game fowl breeders in the land. The company that hired us chose the men who have made a name for themselves not only for their production and their winnings, but also for their credibility in the pit, in their dealings, and their personal lives. These breeders are then called and branded, “Ang Maginoong Magmamanok.”

Although the company would have wanted all the regions represented, it was impossible. Seventy percent of the breeders we interviewed are all Negrosanons.

We visited their farms from Northern to Southern Negros. We had the opportunity to visit the best farms in the province that featured either one or more of these features—impressive infrastructure, functional yet stylish set ups, expansive landscapes, verdant plantations to provide ample oxygen to the fighting cocks, and thousands of game birds from chicks to stags to bull stags to full grown battle crosses! And oh lest you think otherwise, the ladies (I’m talking about the hens) also have their own special places.

I can never forget the first few breeders that we interviewed—Rafael “Nene” Abello of Isabela, Ampil Brothers in La Carlota, Juancho Aguirre of La Carlota, Emmanuel “Mame” Lacson of Bacolod City, Renato “Otic” Geroso of Alangilan and Mambucal, Murcia, Bob Cuenca of Ma-ao, Bago City, Freddie Yulo of Hinigran, Danilo Hinlo of Victorias, Lance dela Torre of Talisay, and Itoy Sison of Bacolod City. The rest became a blur to me as the company started sending us to other places. We had the job that many men around the country would die for! We were ladies and were given the opportunity to meet these breeding big guns and visit their farms! Cool!

Breeder wannabes and cockers from everywhere would come and visit Negros on a regular basis just to buy fighting cocks. Financiers from other cities and countries would tandem with Negros breeders and join in local and international derbies. We are that famous for the breeding of the best fighting cocks in the land!

This is such a big industry that my photographer-friend who was my partner in these endeavors thought of holding a Breeders Tour around Negros and I was given the chance to go along with them. She chose several of the most famous farms that were going to be the stop for the tour. Many cockers, upcoming breeders, and those who were just curious as to the breeding system here in Negros joined the tour.

The tour of Negros Breeders was the tour of fancy of cocking aficionados from other places. They were given hotel accommodations and brought around in tour vans. At the Negros farms, the owners themselves did a guided tour of their breeding areas, explaining their system along the way. They also unselfishly shared their techniques and other information pertaining to breeding. The breeders treated the participants to sumptuous lunch buffets in the farm! It was fun to partake of a great lunch (that sometimes featured lechon) amidst the beautiful landscapes of game farms while the fighting cocks were crowing on the side.

By the end of the day, the participants bought so many birds from the breeders so everyone was happy.

Sadly, the pharmaceutical company that hired us had to lay low of their support for the game fowl industry because of an international law against cockfighting. They were an international company so even though cockfighting is a much accepted game here in the Philippines, they were affected in other countries. Needless to say, they stopped sending us around 2005. Oh well, what can I say, it was a good 7 years – from 1998 to 2004 – that we had traveled the country to visit the premier game farms not only in Negros but also around the country.

After the stint with the company, cockfighting publishers would commission us to interview breeders to be featured in their magazines. And up until now, even though my friend is already in the United States, I still continue to do profiling of breeders here in Negros.

My most recent talk was again with Otic Geroso of Alangilan, Bacolod City, Manny Delleva of Talisay City, Beboy Javellana of Bago City, and Peter “Anggok” Montesa of Alangilan, Bacolod City.

I am very privileged to meet these people. I have learned a lot from them, not only in breeding, but also in life. Through my journeys, I have met some of the richest and most influential people in the industry. One thing I really learned from them is building your credibility so that people trust you. In the cockpit, there are no receipts, but cockers honor their bets.

Cockfighting may be associated with gambling for those who are not privy to this game, but for the breeders that I met, the breeding of fighting cocks is a science. They have a system of doing things and all their data are recorded religiously and meticulously. And all the breeders that I met do not bet much on their birds, they join derbies for marketing purposes. They would rather do breeding and do business. They are breeders, not cockers.

I am so thankful for the experiences I have had because of my travels. I am up for another interview next month, after the round of stag derbies this time of the year.


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