Your First Foal: Horse breeding for beginners (Horses)

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Most stallion owners initially purchase a stallion to breed their own mares. However, by breeding outside mares, the stallion owner is able to reduce the fixed costs of owning a stallion, increase the number of mares bred and subsequently increase the number of foals available to evaluate the stallion as a sire. In addition, by breeding outside mares, the traffic and visitors to the breeding farm are increased.

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This increases the potential to breed additional mares, sell foals and broodmares, board mares and hopefully increase the overall profitability of the breeding farm. This fact sheet addresses such fundamentals as stallion selection criteria, labor and facility considerations, breeding fees, personnel, mare care, advertising, communication, and breeding contracts.

Obviously, one of the first considerations to be addressed is the selection of a stallion. The first concept is that only good stallions make a profit. Therefore, if you are to be successful in the breeding business, it is important to stand a quality stallion. Basically, three things ultimately determine the worth of a superior breeding stallion:. It is still important for the stallion to be attractive and well-conformed, even though a stallion may be totally used as a performance sire.

Furthermore, a stallion with a fashionable or popular pedigree will contribute to the successful marketing of the progeny. An attractive, well-conformed yearling colt with a fashionable pedigree is much easier to market than a similar colt with a less popular pedigree.

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Color of the stallion is a factor that has to be considered when standing a stallion. Interest in breeds with a distinct color patterns, such as American Paint Horses, Palominos and Appaloosas, has been increasing, so color genetics play an important role in stallion selection. In cases where color has major emphasis in a breeding program, the stallion owner must thoroughly research available information and market considerations of both acceptable and non-acceptable color patterns of the respective breeds.

In most breeds, there are color biases within all the acceptable colors in the breed. It would be in the best interest of the stallion owner to know those biases and select the stallion accordingly. However, it should be pointed out that in most non-color oriented breeds, color is of secondary concern to superior genetics, conformation and performance factors. Breeding for color is sometimes trendy and long term breeding commitments to color alone may be risky. A major consideration that a stallion owner must determine is the stallion service or breeding fee.

Two philosophies exist relative to this matter. First, a stallion owner may limit the number of outside mares with a high breeding fee. Many stallion owners think this is advisable because of the marketing advantages of a smaller number of foals. Additionally, the quality of the mares bred to stallions with higher breeding fees is generally superior, resulting in an exceptional foal crop.

However, many horse breeding farms have been successful breeding a larger number of mares at a lower breeding fee. Typically, the quality of offspring may be reduced, but breeding income is increased. The stallion owner ultimately has to make the decision based on the breeding income needed to support the horse farm and on realistic expectations of the stallion in future breeding seasons.

The perception of stallion quality and acceptability is often determined by where the stallion is standing at stud. The horse breeding business is not always a science. Many mare owners make breeding decisions based on unrealistic perceptions. A good example of this situation is breeding to a Thoroughbred stallion. Many Tennessee mare owners will breed to a Kentucky Thoroughbred stallion instead of a Tennessee stallion. In doing so, they will pay substantially higher breeding fees, along with higher mare care and veterinary expenses for no other reason than the stallion was in Kentucky.

Although the increased costs may not be justified, the situation continues to exist.

Another consideration is that the stallion must be compatible with the locale. This has several implications. Generally speaking, the stallion offered to the public should be of the same breed as the mare population in the area.

Horse Breeding, Foal Care and Mare Pregnancy Information

For example, it would be more difficult to stand an Arabian stallion for a profit in an area dominated by Quarter Horse mares than a Quarter Horse stallion. Conversely, the same would be true. It is imperative to maintain an attractive, clean, well-maintained breeding farm. Mare owners are more likely to take their mares to a clean, well-maintained breeding farm. It gives them a sense of security that their mares will be safe.

The breeding farm should be accessible with adequate highways and roads. Visibility from major interstates and highways is advantageous but certainly not mandatory for a successful breeding farm. When standing a stallion, the breeding farm owners must not only consider the attractiveness of a farm but also the design of the facility to accommodate a breeding program.

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An additional component that will affect the facility design and construction is the use of a natural or artificial breeding program. A natural breeding program may be able to complete a successful breeding season with less elaborate facilities than an artificial breeding program. However, pasture breeding a stallion will greatly reduce the amount of facilities needed. Hand mating programs may require facilities similar to those required in artificial breeding.

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Artificially breeding a stallion may allow the stallion to increase the number of mares bred over natural breeding by fourfold, greatly increasing income-earning potential. However, this increased income will be offset somewhat by increased facility demand, improved and additional management skills, increased labor and generally higher veterinary costs.

Artificial insemination is prohibited in some breeds; therefore, the stallion owner should take into account breed regulations when purchasing a stallion. Regardless of the type of breeding program at a farm, labor is a primary consideration. The qualities or personal traits of a breeding farm worker are critical to a successful program. Generally the first impression of a breeding farm may be projected through a farm laborer, not the manager or owner. The image or perception of a mare owner greatly influences stallion selection. Professional, well-trained employees who have a good understanding of business principles and horse farm knowledge can have a real impact on success or failure of a stallion.

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Do you have a new trainer or instructor who has different expectations of your mare or a different style of training? A mare coming off of a racing career might show quite dramatic changes in behavior over time with or without being bred. Their dominance status might change over time after many foals, but this might just be due to their being older and residing in the group longer.

Prior to attending veterinary school, Dr. Diehl also spent six years on faculty at Penn State, where she taught equine science and behavior courses and advised graduate students completing equine behavior research. Additionally, Diehl has co-authored scientific papers on stallion behavior, early intensive handling of foals, and feral horse contraception.

Currently she is a practicing veterinarian in central Pennsylvania. You must be logged in to post a comment. Favorite Share:. About The Author. Leave a reply Cancel reply You must be logged in to post a comment. Related Posts. Dead space. Search Search for:. Weekly Poll:. Have you recently tested your horse for PPID? Featured Horse Listing. Free horse Unbroken, and my husband and I are to old and have medical problems so we can't break her.

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