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Basics of breeding

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  • Basics of breeding

    so I may never breed a horse or if I do it’ll be in the far future but there are some basic things that I’ve been wondering if anyone has the time!

    first, you have to pay stud fees but what are the chances of your mare not taking? I mean often would you have to ensemenate them in order for the mare to take? Sorry if the question isn’t clear on this on

    in general how much does it cost to breed a foal, I mean nothing too fancy with the horses but to pay the vet bills and etc. of a pregnant mare and then a foal what’s the ballpark guess? And for any breeders on here how much do you make or loss from a foal?

    and lastly just some general breeding tips that you guys have learned!

    and again I’m so eneducated on breeding and I don’t plan to breed my horses I am just interested about it!

  • #2
    I'll be interested to read the responses you get. I can't really give you numbers. I am currently riding and soon will be showing a fourth generation member of my breeding program. My 'basic' is that I saved money by doing all my own training, doing all my own vetting, owning my stallion(s) and my mares. I did spend money on collecting the stallions because my facilities have been small and I did not want to invest in all of the repro equipment though I do have some. All of my horses have served double duty - meaning they were my competition horses or my kids' competition horses and breeding stock. I have also always had my own place. I probably have spent 1/5 of what others have spent but I can promise you I barely broke even on the sales aspect, making only a small profit in the end.
    Ranch of Last Resort

    Comment


    • #3
      And if you pasture breed you don't even have repro costs

      Basically breeding costs can go from almost nothing in a ranch type situation where you pasture breed and are capable of foaling out on your own, to I don't know what if you have artificial insemination at the vet clinic and vet care and ultrasound at every step.

      I think though what exvet says applies generally. You are unlikely to make the expense back by selling young stock, even if there is almost no expense , except maybe in high end racing TB or maybe performance warmbloods.

      Comment


      • #4
        Assuming you don't stand your own stallions and pasture breed, breeding a mare can become very expensive. In my part of the world, California, it is around $1k for a breeding cycle. Breeding AI with fresh semen can be a little less, but that is ball park. If you don't have a live foal guarantee on the stallion, likely because you used frozen semen, you are out the cost of the frozen semen and the cycle. If you have a live foal guarantee, you are out the cycle and will have to pay collection and shipping fees for cycle #2. You won't have to pay another studfee though.

        Once the mare is in foal, it doesn't cost any more to keep the more in foal than it does to keep her open, until the latter part of pregnancy. Then it can cost more for feed, and I always vaccinate them. If you send the mare out for foaling, that can be very expensive, $$$$, and if you do that, it isn't an area where you want to economize very much as you want to be sure the mare will be well attended.

        Personally I don't think breeding horses is a terrific way to make money, as overall I think even breaking even can be difficult. As noted, if you don't have much overhead and you can start horses yourself and bring them along, that is clearly the more cost effective plan.
        Mystic Owl Sporthorses
        www.mysticowlsporthorses.com

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        • #5
          Breeding is a labor of love. If a breeder can break even, that is a good year. Let me give you an example of my year -- 4 mares bred, 3 pasture bred and 1 AI fresh semen. Mare 1 -- went 365 days and was pretty torn up in the foaling. She needed extensive stitches and antibiotics; will not rebreed her this year based on vet's recommendation. Her foal is fine and sold. Mares 2 and 3 -- had foals no problem but no sales either. Everyone fine. Mare 4 -- had a foal from contracted tendons on front legs. IV tetracycline did not work....at that point I should have put the foal down, but she was spunky. So 5 weeks and $5K later, we went through splints, casts, more splints, along the way dealing with pressure sores. She is now fine. I can't sell her for what I put into her. She remains very spunky.

          Also bred a mare AI frozen to an outside stallion. She caught first cycle. In fact she had two embryos, both embryos next to each other, so no chance to pinch one. We tried stressing her to get a reabsorption; we lost both embryos. Will try again next year. The cost of AI frozen shipping is crazy -- over $500 plus they want another $1260 as a deposit on their container. I do have more straws available per the stallion contract and the mare is a good candidate for AI.....too good this year.

          Two of my field bred mares are pregnant. Checking the AI mare (the stallion just doesn't like breeding her) and another field bred mare on Friday assuming Hurricane Florence leaves us with electricity.

          Some years all the foals make it and are fine. Other years I will lose a foal. Some years all mares catch, other years stuff happens. Some years there may be a miscarriage. This year I had a mare sent to me bred from an outside breeder and she was open. I think the outside breeder mistook a uterine cyst for an embryo, but perhaps she reaborbed or aborted. In any case, open.

          Whatever the case, do not assume breeding is as simple as getting viable semen in the mare at the time of ovulation. then managing the birth. There are many, many complications all along the way, some easy to handle and others expensive and frustrating.
          Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
          http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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          • #6
            Only spend what you can afford to flush down the toilet.

            Comment


            • #7
              No one has mentioned this, but responsible breeding should entail breeding the best to the best to avoid foals with poor conformation, birth defects and undesirable temperaments.

              Also, before breeding, anyone who is a responsible human should consider the high number of horses being sold at the horse lots for the horsemeat industry, many of whom have nothing wrong with them, other than becoming a financial drain on their owners. When you breed, if you do not intend to keep the foal, you are adding to the horse overpopulation, plain and simple.

              In an industry where half the horse owners treat their animals like cars, I wish there was more accountability and consideration for inconvenient or elderly animals that have served their purpose admirably only to be dumped off to horse dealers, scared sh**less in a feed lot, carried away crammed in a cattle truck with 20 or more horses and made to walk down a chute to their sad, frightful and painful deaths. But there isn't.

              Here's a little documentary on the situation for you:
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gXzAFO1HLs

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree that you should think long and hard about breeding grade horses or beloved but mediocre mares.

                But breeding high quality performance horses that have a market is a different matter. Someone that wants and needs a quality reining horse, or a warmblood with specific jumping or dressage lines, is not going to head out to the auction and rescue a mustang or an OTTB or a cute but fugly draft cross.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Not a professional breeder but have bred my own mares to get my next horse.

                  First off, don't bred any mare that you wouldn't want a carbon copy of. Stallions can definitely help with making a better version of the mare, but they usually can't fix major conformation or attitude problems.

                  I would always do a full breeding work up prior to signing any breeding contract.

                  For me personally, I was happy to have a healthy foal. Everything else has been the icing on the cake

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                    I agree that you should think long and hard about breeding grade horses or beloved but mediocre mares.

                    But breeding high quality performance horses that have a market is a different matter. Someone that wants and needs a quality reining horse, or a warmblood with specific jumping or dressage lines, is not going to head out to the auction and rescue a mustang or an OTTB or a cute but fugly draft cross.
                    Absolutely true. However, if you are breeding those types of horses, you should also acknowledge that they usually gravitate to people who quite frequently do not keep them for a lifetime or retire them in dignity. Check out the Red Bucket Rescue stories. They recently rescued two warmbloods who were elderly from the horsemeat auctions. The previous owner had them their entire lives and in her Facebook posts bragged about how much she loved them. Yet there they were standing terrified at a feedlot ready to be auctioned off for horsemeat after one became lame and the other couldn't jump anymore.

                    If you can reconcile this fact to yourself that the animals you are breeding are nothing but the latest model car for most of your customers, that's your business. I just think that it needs to be understood within these parameters to the general public (to at least discourage backyard breeders of substandard animals). I believe these well bred animals are more deserving of being born, I still think it's a crapshoot that they find a decent end to their life when they reach their golden years. They are myths that all well bred horses do not end up at auctions or purebred dogs don't end up in the pound. They do. I read recently about a well bred dressage horse originally purchased for five figures that had issues in training, went from one home to another and ended up at a feedlot. It was not elderly or dangerous either. It was merely inconvenient (and probably poorly trained) at that point in it's life. It is not only mustangs, funky plowhorses and unfortunate OTTBs that end up in feed lots. Additionally, we have owned many purebred dogs obtained from the pound or dog rescues (really beautiful animals too). It's a throwaway culture that we have to blame whose values also gravitate to animals and human beings. I only urge careful consideration in this matter to the average reader here (most of whom do not breed horses and probably shouldn't).

                    Hey, man.. I feel the same way about breeding dogs, cats, domesticated birds etc. I don't care who tells me, I'll speak my mind about it. Even when my hairdresser was cutting my hair and I was risking a mohawk, I told her that breeding her cat once before fixing her will not "settle her down." Age and time will do that just fine. The world does not need more litters of cats when there are so many already being put to sleep in pounds. I told my bookkeeper her kids did not need to see her non-purebred dog give birth to see a beautiful experience. They can watch it on YouTube. I don't care. I speak my mind on this particular subject. Fewer animals means fewer sad and painful deaths in the world.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tyrus' Mom View Post

                      Absolutely true. However, if you are breeding those types of horses, you should also acknowledge that they usually gravitate to people who quite frequently do not keep them for a lifetime or retire them in dignity. Check out the Red Bucket Rescue stories. They recently rescued two warmbloods who were elderly from the horsemeat auctions. The previous owner had them their entire lives and in her Facebook posts bragged about how much she loved them. Yet there they were standing terrified at a feedlot ready to be auctioned off for horsemeat after one became lame and the other couldn't jump anymore.

                      If you can reconcile this fact to yourself that the animals you are breeding are nothing but the latest model car for most of your customers, that's your business. I just think that it needs to be understood within these parameters to the general public (to at least discourage backyard breeders of substandard animals). I believe these well bred animals are more deserving of being born, I still think it's a crapshoot that they find a decent end to their life when they reach their golden years. They are myths that all well bred horses do not end up at auctions or purebred dogs don't end up in the pound. They do. I read recently about a well bred dressage horse originally purchased for five figures that had issues in training, went from one home to another and ended up at a feedlot. It was not elderly or dangerous either. It was merely inconvenient (and probably poorly trained) at that point in it's life. It is not only mustangs, funky plowhorses and unfortunate OTTBs that end up in feed lots. Additionally, we have owned many purebred dogs obtained from the pound or dog rescues (really beautiful animals too). It's a throwaway culture that we have to blame whose values also gravitate to animals and human beings. I only urge careful consideration in this matter to the average reader here (most of whom do not breed horses and probably shouldn't).

                      Hey, man.. I feel the same way about breeding dogs, cats, domesticated birds etc. I don't care who tells me, I'll speak my mind about it. Even when my hairdresser was cutting my hair and I was risking a mohawk, I told her that breeding her cat once before fixing her will not "settle her down." Age and time will do that just fine. The world does not need more litters of cats when there are so many already being put to sleep in pounds. I told my bookkeeper her kids did not need to see her non-purebred dog give birth to see a beautiful experience. They can watch it on YouTube. I don't care. I speak my mind on this particular subject. Fewer animals means fewer sad and painful deaths in the world.
                      Amen, and I wish I could like this post 100 times!
                      "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                      "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm not sure there is any category of horse or horse owner that is guaranteed to keep their horses until they die of old age. Not competition riders or backyard ammies or anything in between. Individual owners in every category may, but in no sector is it guaranteed. Horses live much longer than cats or dogs and are much more expensive to keep. Even a well meaning owner may have health or money problems, or their situation may change. Or they might get too old to care for horses.

                        And honestly not that many fully useful horses end up at low end auctions. As the saying goes, pick two out of three: sound, sane, broke.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          [QUOTE=Scribbler;n10226693

                          And honestly not that many fully useful horses end up at low end auctions. As the saying goes, pick two out of three: sound, sane, broke. [/QUOTE]

                          I have a friend in rescue who tells me there are a lot of horses in California at the feedlots that are perfectly good horses. She has one friend in particular that takes on a new horse every few months from the feedlot, rehabs them and passes them to a horse rescue to find a decent home for them. She says in the many years she only had one that had to be PTS because of soundness. She said nothing about temperament. Just FYI... maybe your source of info is not valid on that subject.

                          In our throwaway culture, responsibility is not a cherished value, unfortunately. As I said, it's choices everyone makes what to take on and what to cast off. So it goes... there is not one answer for this problem, but awareness of the problem is the first step to solving it.





                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tyrus' Mom View Post

                            I have a friend in rescue who tells me there are a lot of horses in California at the feedlots that are perfectly good horses. She has one friend in particular that takes on a new horse every few months from the feedlot, rehabs them and passes them to a horse rescue to find a decent home for them. She says in the many years she only had one that had to be PTS because of soundness. She said nothing about temperament. Just FYI... maybe your source of info is not valid on that subject.

                            In our throwaway culture, responsibility is not a cherished value, unfortunately. As I said, it's choices everyone makes what to take on and what to cast off. So it goes... there is not one answer for this problem, but awareness of the problem is the first step to solving it.
                            I'm sure you mean well but I wonder if you really understand the issue. Your friend who takes horses from feedlots "rehabs" them and gives them to "rescues" is not "rehabing horses" if she has to give them to rescues. If she was truly rehabbing them they would be sold to riding homes, and not need to be given to a "rescue".

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by skydy View Post

                              I'm sure you mean well but I wonder if you really understand the issue. Your friend who takes horses from feedlots "rehabs" them and gives them to "rescues" is not "rehabing horses" if she has to give them to rescues. If she was truly rehabbing them they would be sold to riding homes, and not need to be given to a "rescue".
                              You people who like to quibble about the details on what happens to rescued horses fail to see the bigger picture in favor of what? What am I missing here? The horses were rescued bottom line... and she was allowing the rescues to make money on the horses... but perhaps generosity is peculiar to you.

                              It was a friend and associate of my friend who is a hands on dog/cat rescuer, who rehabs abused and injured dogs and cats in Northern Cali and gives them to rescue services to rehome who gave me that information, to be clear. In the rescue world it is quite common for individuals to give their own time and money to the cause. These people do not see it as a business, but rather a calling.

                              Rescues do not give animals to people at no charge. More often than not we have paid more for the privilege of getting a rescue dog than we would have paid for a papered pup. It is called a donation but is mandatory.
                              Last edited by Tyrus' Mom; Sep. 14, 2018, 09:07 AM.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Both stallion and mare must earn the right to reproduce in some concrete way, in the breeder's opinion. Owning a uterus and a set of nuts does not make a horse "breeding stock". Pedigrees and registration, stud fees and purchase prices mean very little in prediction of success. Study racing records, and breeding theories that have been explored by race breeders to gain an understanding of just how varied these theories are among successful breeders, and how contradictory they can be. Race records have been kept meticulously over many years and many generations, unlike other equine sport records. Soundness, and form to function are paramount, as are other things too which are sometimes not considered by breeders... such as mothering ability of the mare, milk quality and availability.

                                The use of AI techniques to breed horses is a license to print money for vets and AI techs. Marketing and promotion is effective. If you have no other options, or believe the marketing, then you subscribe, and pay the costs involved. However, the use of AI has already damaged the reproductive successes of many other species of animals (and horses already too), tightens the gene pool, and concentrates genetic flaws rapidly as a result. OR, can give you access to genetics and quality of animals that you may not have access to geographically. So it is a double edged sword. Choose your poison.
                                www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by OdieJump View Post
                                  so I may never breed a horse or if I do it’ll be in the far future but there are some basic things that I’ve been wondering if anyone has the time!

                                  first, you have to pay stud fees but what are the chances of your mare not taking? I mean often would you have to ensemenate them in order for the mare to take? Sorry if the question isn’t clear on this on

                                  in general how much does it cost to breed a foal, I mean nothing too fancy with the horses but to pay the vet bills and etc. of a pregnant mare and then a foal what’s the ballpark guess? And for any breeders on here how much do you make or loss from a foal?

                                  and lastly just some general breeding tips that you guys have learned!

                                  and again I’m so eneducated on breeding and I don’t plan to breed my horses I am just interested about it!
                                  You are asking all the wrong questions.

                                  First of all, the biggest concern is having a nice enough mare. I can't emphasize this enough. She doesn't just have to be good enough that you'd want a carbon copy of her (because that's not how breeding works--if only). She has to be good enough that if you took her worst fault and magnified it you'd still have a respectable, useful horse. Your mare has to have good conformation, good movement, be mentally and physically sound, have a good pedigree, and ideally have had useful career under saddle (or in harness) without suffering unsoundness.

                                  Secondly, yes it costs a lot of money to breed. The vet bills to get your mare in foal, the expense of foaling your mare out in a supervised setting, the expense of keeping your mare and foal in safe and appropriate accommodations, etc.--all these costs are large and sort of predictable, in the sense that you can choose to stop trying after you burn through $5000 trying to get a mare in foal.

                                  But the costs don't end there. As if! Instead, breeding is like playing roulette, but instead of winning money you end up with intermittent enormous losses. Your foal dies. Your mare dies. Your mare or foal goes into the hospital and racks up $10,000 or more worth of bills. You need a nurse mare or are stuck caring for a bucket baby around the clock. Your mare dies, you get a nurse mare, and then your foal ends up as a wobbler as a three year old and has to be put down anyway.

                                  The last point is, just as important as the monetary costs are the time and commitment costs and the emotional cost. Breeding will drain your time, drain your energy, and break your heart. You have to be ready for that.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Tyrus' Mom View Post

                                    You people who like to quibble about the details on what happens to rescued horses fail to see the bigger picture in favor of what? What am I missing here? The horses were rescued bottom line... and she was allowing the rescues to make money on the horses... but perhaps generosity is peculiar to you.

                                    It was a friend and associate of my friend who is a hands on dog/cat rescuer, who rehabs abused and injured dogs and cats in Northern Cali and gives them to rescue services to rehome who gave me that information, to be clear. In the rescue world it is quite common for individuals to give their own time and money to the cause. These people do not see it as a business, but rather a calling.

                                    Rescues do not give animals to people at no charge. More often than not we have paid more for the privilege of getting a rescue dog than we would have paid for a papered pup. It is called a donation but is mandatory.
                                    I understand much more than you think. You admit that you are basing your opinion on third hand information.
                                    "Details" matter very much where horses and feedlot/rescues are concerned.

                                    No, generosity is not "peculiar" to me.

                                    OP sorry to derail the thread.

                                    It would be helpful for you to read a few books. There is an oldie "Blessed are the Broodmares" that can give you a general sense of what is involved in breeding. As others have said, breeding begins with a very good mare.

                                    Don't expect to make a profit on the foal. You've had some very good advice here from people who know about breeding horses. Bee Honey gave you a good financial overview.

                                    I know it seems like breeding horses would be fun, and it is wonderful to see foals come into the world and watch them grow, but it is an expensive and sometimes heartbreaking process.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Tyrus' Mom View Post

                                      I have a friend in rescue who tells me there are a lot of horses in California at the feedlots that are perfectly good horses. <snip>
                                      One person's "perfectly good horse" is not another's. I have looked at many rescue horses, and there are few that have NOTHING wrong with them. Old, ugly, unsound, ignorant, with vices, or any combination of these is what you mainly find. The number of really nice horses -- good looking, sound, lots of good years left, well-trained and mannerly -- is small. Rescuer types tend to feel that all horses are good, worthy, lovely animals, no matter if they have three good legs and bite. I get where they are coming from, but they are not reliable assessors by and large. After quite a few years of experience with the type, I no longer believe rescuers any more than I believe anybody else who wants to sell a horse.

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                                      • #20
                                        I hang around at the low end of nice horses. People have an eye for a good horse but budget constraints. I follow the local rescue sites and get first hand information from folks who work at the SPCA horse center.

                                        I board at a suburban barn where space and cost restraints mean that people can only really have 1 or 2 horses, no pastures to fill up with semi retired sad cases.

                                        I've been watching where people source their project horses.

                                        The one "category" of auction/rescue horse where you can sometimes find sound, sane, and decent conformation is if you also get unbroke and unhandled, either a QH breeder culling surplus yearlings off the range, or a long time pasture ornament whose owner died of old age.

                                        Likewise if you play your cards right you can sometimes get an OTTB off the backstretch for free or $500. Or an OTSB. If you are careful and knowledgeable you can pick one without racing injuries. And of course also have to do all the retraining yourself.

                                        I have yet to see anyone turn up with a rescue or indeed a low dollar or free horse being "rehomed" that is sound, sane, and also well broke.

                                        For my money I'd go with unbroke because you can fix that, and I have training support available. Also I'm a decent rider now and can school a well behaved green broke horse. But for many ammies and juniors, getting an unbroke horse is a gong show especially if they don't have cash for training and lessons. And especially if the horse isn't 100 % "sane."

                                        Auctions and rescues are indeed testaments to how many horses are surplus to actual needs and also how many are damaged physically and mentally over their lives by poor management. But generally they are not good sources of ready to ride, problem free, horses. Some may slip through the cracks, of course.

                                        A good trail broke ranch gelding sells here for at least $3000 to $5000. You wouldn't sell him for $500 at auction if you had any choice in the matter.


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