When breeding dogs, you get a litter, not a single birth. Upkeep is much less expensive. And the offspring are marketable at 6 weeks to a much large market than the horse market. Comparing stud fees to the horse world just doesn't cut it.
You can breed to Rubinstein for $1800 (though I have heard he didn't freeze well), you can breed to Weltmeyer for about $600, you can breed to Argentinus or Fabriano for $1000, you can breed to Ferro for around $1200 (and his frozen is almost as good as fresh), Werther, Hohenstein and Don Frederico for around $1200. These stallions are renown because they have produced excellent offspring. While I agree that the stud fee is a small part of the cost of a foal, when you can have an inexpensive stud fee and a stallion with a proven record, it is hard to justify paying a lot for an unproven stallion.
Last year I inquired about a stallion who's fee was over $2,500. I asked if they offered discounts for an FEI mare...they didn't. So I didn't book with them. They said they were trying to keep the quality of mare's up. I think that's a good thing but I had a quality mare and they lost the booking.
I just wanted to point out that having lots of foals out there advertising will only be a good thing if the stallion can consistently produce outstanding foals - even out of mediocre mares. That said, I have been thrilled with the quality of mares Nevada has attracted - certainly mare owners with enough money to breed to the most expensive stallion out there, but they chose Nevada. I think what they do in Germany of making sure the new "hot young stallion" is bred to SPS mares the first few years of his standing at stud gives a false impression of his value as a stallion. I want to see what a stallion can produce when he has been bred to a variety of mares, including some average ones that need improving (notice I didn't say crap). Then you can truly see his worth.
In the Netherlands, they intentionally breed young stallions to a variety quality of mares to get a feel for what the stallions can improve. This information is available in the stallion's test report. It is really interesting.
A good stallion should be able to improve any mare he is bred to... and ours do http://chronicleforums.com/groupee_c.../icon_wink.gif But we also breed our own mares and thus have babies to sell, so our income isn't limited to stud fees. We strongly feel that good stallions should be available to every breeder. There are lots of mare owners who put everything into buying the best mare they possibly can. So offering top stallions at reasonable fees is good for everyone IMO. The fact that our stallions have consistently produced Premium foals is proof that it works.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Farmdad-changing to real name Tom King:
This might not have anything to do with the price of tea in China or in this case the stud fee amounts in the US but just as a point of possible interest we have 2 ten pound dogs with $2000 stud fees. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I once asked an SO why the fee for her newly imported stallion was so high. I thought her reply was interesting: "If I price my stallion like a bargain-basement horse, he is going to attract bargain-basement mares. I'd rather keep his price a bit high and only get 5 breedings to quality mares, than to get 20 breedings to mediocre mares." Her philosophy is working so far - the stallion got far more bookings his first year than she expected, and most of them are high quality warmblood mares.
In my stallion shopping, I looked for stallions that sired high quality foals out of mediocre mares and high quality mares. To me, that is a HUGE testament to the stallion and his abilities to reproduce himself and improve upon the mare.
Since a lot of small time breeders have TB mares that are "average janes," seeing an amazing foal by the mares side speaks wonders for the stallion.
Stallions that you can cross with anything and still have a nice quality foal are of the highest regard IMHO.
Breeding is a risk anyway you slice it. It goes without saying you don't know what you will get or if you will get anything at all. That being said, isn't the idea of picking a stallion selecting one that will improve the mare, any mare (even the nice ones). I don't blame stallion owns for wanting to use nice mares with their young stallions, but I would expect a significant reduction in the stud fee for assuming this risk. The best way to promote a stallion is to has lots of quality offspring on the ground by a range of mares. High stud fees on young stallions are a hinderance to this.
I agree that it is impressive to see a stallion produce a stellar foal out of an "average jane" mare, but I think it is more important to focus on raising the overall quality of our young horses. We can really help stack the deck in our favor by using better quality mares, and I would rather see U.S. breeders produce 7 or 8 very good foals out of 10 very good mares, than 1 or 2 exceptional foals out of 10 so-so mares. This is the "depth of quality" factor that often sets the European breeding programs apart from U.S. programs.
Don't disagree, Sporthorse. But, the way to do this is have stallions who are real improvers. Of course, if you are going to breed you should use the best mare you can. But in reality, there are budgetary considerations. If a mare didn't go to Rastede, does this mean I shouldn't breed her? Should only SPS candidates be bred? One of the most interesting stastics to me is to look at not just how many approved sons, SPS candidates or FEI competitors a stallion has produced, but look at the damlines of those horses. Were they from main book mares? If so, that stallion is an improver.
A young stallion that is breeding to mostly high quality mares gives a skewed perspective. You can't really know if they are improvers or just riding along on the mares coat tails. And what happens (as statistics say it will) when some below average offspring are produced? If the mares are of superior quality, it will reflect poorly on the stallion (rightly or wrongly). It seems to me that because an individual stallion can have more of an impact than a individual mare on the quality of a breeding program, it is important to know whether he can really improve the popualtion. This can't be done by cherry picking.
And to address the OP's point, if you want to add to the depth of quality, it makes more sense to go with a known improver. If the cost is lower (as it often is with frozen), it is a no-brainer.
I see more people breeding to stallions based on other reasons than just stud fees - i.e. popularity, locality, band wagon, trend (color), etc. There are people who breed to the cheapest stallion around, but the costs of inspections and shipping semen nip most of that in the bud in the sporthorse world. Someone who breeds their approved TB mare to an approved warmblood stallion with a $500 stud fee is not equivilant to the person with the backyard grade mare who drives their mare down the road for live cover to a stallion with a $150 stud fee.
The biggest problem I see is that mare owners do not know how to choose the right cross for their mare. Even some of the big farms make terrible crosses on their expensive, imported mares ... usually by breeding to the farm stallion rather than the stallion who would cross best with the mare. It would be really awesome if the inspectors would spend more time educating the mare owners about conformation and what to look for in movement. RPSI has been really great in that respect.
I do bargain shop. I do take chances on young, unproven stallions who show outstanding potential and who have wonderful pedigrees. I start by making a list of the traits I want for the mare that I am breeding and then make a list of candidates. From there, I start eliminating candidates. Stud fee and the contract are final considerations. I have had great success with this.
Most hunter/jumper trainers want 2 year olds in the $5,000 range and broke 3 year olds in the $10,000 range. The market is there, but just far less than what we are spending to get foals on the ground. I try to price my exceptional youngsters much higher and my average youngsters at market value.
In regards to the comparison with breeding dogs, it is not the same. I showed and bred Akitas for 10 years and was a top 5 breeder (with only 3 adult dogs) for 3 years. The costs involved in breeding a litter can be about the same as producing a foal depending on the circumstances (transporting the bitch to the stud, the stud fee, c-section, etc.), but typically is much less. Usually, there are multiple puppies. Many times the stud contracts guarantee litter size. A show puppy is priced at an equal price to the stud fee and the pet puppies are usually priced at about 1/3 of that amount. Typically, only half of puppies bred are show quality although many breeders sell pet quality puppies as show quality.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by suzette:
Have you thought that maybe the SO didn't really want to get a lot of breedings for this young stallion? Perhaps the plan was that they would rather only breed to one or two mares at a high price, and spend his time and energy on training. Perhaps their plan is more aimed at a future breeding career, and they are thinking to create an 'upscale' image for him when the time comes to stand him seriously?
This may just be a 'marketing ploy'. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
It may not even be a marketing ploy. They may get requests to breed to him and aren't really at that stage in his 'career' yet. Instead of saying no, maybe they have set a price that they would be crazy to turn down if someone wanted to breed to him that badly.
Nhwr, I understand where you are coming from, but I think that improving the overall quality of our mare base will have far greater impact on the depth of quality of our foal crops than a few "improvement" stallions will have.
Don't get me wrong - I love a good "improvement" sire, but the OP asked about the high stud fees on some stallions, so I'm trying to look at this from the stallion owner's point of view. She knows that by attracting higher quality mares, the greater the chances that her stallion's foals will be high quality. If he breeds a lot of lesser quality mares, the greater the chances that his foals will be of lesser quality also. Even if he truly improves on every mare he breeds, the odds are that the more "so-so" mares he goes to, the more "so-so" foals he will have. She is simply hoping to stack the deck in his favor by trying to get good quality mares for him.
It seems to me the term improver really simply means good producer. And good producer means the stallion is simply a good horse. The statistics of the situation in which a stallion bred to good mares produces some below average offspring are the same statistics at work when a stallion is breed to below average mares, and produces some below average offspring. It's proven the odds are better when a good stallion is bred to a good mare. I understand some SOs feel it's important to get as many babies on the ground as possible. But I think if they do so by breeding to below average mares, they are increasing the odds those babies will be below average. And thus the statistics game will need to be run in a certain manner, a large pool of babies will be needed in the hopes that one or two will reach a standard above the mare. By breeding a small number of good mares, one or two good babies also might be had. It's the tortoise and hare scenario. But I think the first scenario has more potential to backfire, and lead to the stallion getting the reputation of not being a good producer.
showjumper66- you said something that really hit me (in a good way). The need to educate mare owners (that don't otherwise know) on how to select a good stallion to complement their mare. I think that is a fantastic idea, and one that would be really helpful.
I know my mare has faults and am pretty much aware of what they are, but when selecting a stallion it's hard to decide which attributes are the most important to try to improve on. My girl has the typical TB neck set- low and not much top line- and the high withers. This has improved with weight, but it can never improve beyond her limitations in conformation. I tried to select stallions that I thought would suit her, but had no basis other than my own knowledge on what I should really be looking for.
I did post here a lot and it was helpful, but I would have LOVED for the stallion owners (or some other resource) to get back to me and say tactfully your mare needs x,y,and z and this boy can really help with that- or not.
The ONLY comment I got on her was that she was "wasp wasted" from a photo I have of her running as a 2 year old. DUH- she is thin, not done growing, and tucked up racing fit.
Sorry for any typos- no time to proof read.
OKGGO - Great point. That is what I want to hear from a stallion owner too - the good, the bad, and the ugly. If a SO said "I don't think your mare and my stallion would cross well" and they explained why, I would be more impressed with their honesty and willing to come back when I had something suitable (or send people there).
I think some stud fees are high, but I also stop to think about the inspection costs, membership costs, vet costs - not just stud fees. The whole thing is extremely expensive - isn't this sport in general though. I can't guarantee my mare can even carry a foal to term. Should I spend the $$$ to see if she can? I don't want to spend too much on her first breeding because of this.I can understand why SOs keep the fees a little higher - they have to cover vet bills, advertising, showing, etc.
Most important to me is to see the offspring out of TB mares that are similar to mine. I would love to see more pics of the mares on stallion sites, not just the offspring. I would also like to see offspring older than 3 or 4 not just foals.
Breeding isn't as simple as you take this stallion plus that mare and get a nice foal. There are fabulous looking stallions (on paper, in terms of bloodlines and real life, in terms of type) who end up don't producing much in the way of offspring. Then there are stallions who were bred for one purpose that end up not working for that, but having a huge impact in other ways (like Donnerhall). Yes you should start with a good mare base. But because a mare will only produce one foal a year, whereas a stallion will produce multiple foals a year, what a stallion will actually produce is much more important, in terms of depth of quality for the overall population. You will only know what a stallion produces by seeing many of his foals on the ground. You breed the best to the best, for sure. But with a younger stallion there is more of a risk. IMO, that risk should be reflected in the stud fee. After all the SO can always maintain the right to approve mares for breeding. That would make more sense to me.
And there are only 2 ways we are going to improve our mare base. 1)Import better mares. 2)Breed better offspring (so we are back to that improvement sire thing again). So if we are going to really get depth of quality, we need to be using stallions who improve what they are bred to.
Sporthorse South - I have to say that line of reasoning doesn't really make sense to me, from a business or breed improvement standpoint.
First - why import a stallion if he is not going to be a good cross with the mare base? If his only real niche is with imported SPS mares, why do we need him here? What function does he fulfill?
Second - we NEED to have stallions covering mares so we can see their get. I know you said they were pleased with the bookings - but how many are you talking about? Thirty? Fifty? One Hundred? Stallions here often cover so few mares that you can't really begin to tell whether they ARE improvers or not. More importantly, you can't tell WHAT they improve or don't improve, because you don't have the statistical information.
Third - you are going to get a much better, faster improvement to the mare base if you bring in stallions that are suited to improving the mare base (like Europe has done and like the AQHA did - two sets of relatively successful results in short time frames) and let them do their job, at a reasonable enough cost that you see the results on the ground, than you will by importing a mare here and a mare there. It doesn't help the mare base that much, imo, to have the stallions just breed to a very few imported SPS mares . Umm, if that is what there job is going to be here, why shouldn't we just leave the SPS mares in Europe, let them be bred there where they WILL have access to lower stud fees and produce a more economic and diverse product, and bring over the best at performance age time? If the goal is just to get a few really nice individuals - not to really dig in and become a part of the breeding industry here and help shape and support it - then why bring the stallion over?
Fourth - why would a newly imported stallion or a new young stallion have such a great claim to being entitled to 'only the best' mares (and, for that matter, what stallion station/standing experience does their owner, the SO, bring to the equation to justify enhanced fees - do they have the experience **and I don't mean, oh I have a great vet, I mean THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE operating a successful stallion or station successfully**)? I would worry right off the cuff that kind of SO is going to be just a bear to work with. They just don't put out "I'm hear to work for my mare owners" vibes to me, whereas there are a LOT of stallion owners who do put out those vibes.
Fifth - it makes me (this is me personally, just an opinion) worry about the objectivity of an SO in evaluating their stallion and their stallion's actual production qualities when I see this, IMO, overemphasis on *needing* super quality mares. Let's face it - is every nice stallion a good nick for every Premium Mare? Of course not - so when I see a stallion owner trawling for just Premium Mares, and not so much for mares that all have certain categories of qualities that will cross nicely with their stallion, I feel like either they don't know what they are doing or they are relying on the mare to fill in for the stallions failings. I have 3 (soon to be 4) very nice, very different mares, approved with different registries, all successful on the line, all clean xrays, all a joy to ride but they are DIFFERENT. I very distinctly remember years back talking to a stallion owner and when I asked as about the types of mares their stallion crossed best with I got a very stony "well, nice mares of course, I suppose you just have a tb mare?". It was intimidating to a newer breeder (despite my 25+ years with sporthorses at the time). But now my reaction would be - that guy is not worth a serious mare owner's time.
Sixth - US based stallions need to have get on the ground that people can see if they want to take the bookings away from frozen. If you breed just a couple, or ten, or even twenty, mares - you are not getting enough get on the ground for your horse to be able to sell himself. After the "ooooooo, aaaaaa, newness factor, if you don't have some fantastic performers (not just premium mares/foals - but performers) that get lots of national attention, you are not going to keep the interest in your stallion vis a vis the guy that was just imported THIS year, with his that much newer bloodlines and his that much newer test results, etc. If, however, breeders run into your get at testings, shows, etc. on a more consistent basis and whether it is an exceptional individual or not, they recognize repition of important traits for them - they will seek out your stallion. If they are sophisticated breeders at all they like to see get and get from more than one mare or more than one mare type.
Seventh - I don't go along with the point that the depth of quality in Europe has come from only breeding premium mares. I think someone from the Hannover region mentioned that the region produces something like 9,000 foals/year? I think that's in the ballpark. That's one region. No way is every one of those foals going to Disneyworld. But because they cross a young stallion on a lot of mares, they get enough get to see if he is doing his job and to see what mares he works with. Whether someone goes performance or testing route with their stallion, one thing neither of those tells a mare owner is what the stallion will put on the ground. A European type of approach, where the stallion covers quite a few mares, operates as almost second round of testing - and it is the info that mare owners really want and need. It is the proof of the stallion being a good breeding stallion - not just another really nice horse.
Obviously - everyone is going to feel differently. I think, though, that the approaches taken by, for example, GW Ranch in giving excellent bargains the first years with their stallions, generally has a positive payoff for the breeding community as a whole
Dray - I would bet that when you have your stallion approved with RPSI bookings will pick up. I think most mare owners are still most comfortable working through a registry and RPSI is getting more and more support.