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How much does the stud fee/semen price affect your choice in stallions?

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  • How much does the stud fee/semen price affect your choice in stallions?

    Just wondering, how much does a stallion's stud fee, or his per dose price in the case of frozen, affect your choice? Even within the realm of well-regarded stallions approved with major registries, there seems to be a huge range of prices. Some of the really hot/popular stallions are around $2000 a dose now (Sir Donnerhall for example), but at the same time I can breed to a nice, proven, but not necessarily fashionable stallion at Celle for around $500. I know over the horse's lifetime, a difference of $1000 or even $1500 is just a drop in the bucket, but if you are selling a foal, that could make the difference between making a profit and losing money. Also, if you are paying a high stud fee, does the resulting foal's price go up accordingly?

  • #2
    I haven't actually bred my mare yet... but I purchased her planning to breed her. I'm doing a lot of research into stallions and their get right now. The semen fee is on my list of things to consider but it's on the bottom of the list. A difference of $1500 is very small to me when I'm thinking of all of the other fees that I'm going to put into this and the fact that my mare is only able to breed once a year... might as well breed the best that I can. With that being said... if it was a $3k or $5k difference - that would be another story.
    I am planning on breeding something that I would like as a future dressage competition horse. I may end up selling the foal, but I'm not breeding for the purpose of selling whatever I get.


    • #3
      I try to pick the best matches for my mares without regard to semen price but as between two otherwise equal stallions I would likely pick the less expensive one. I have yet to have my decision come down to price except in one instance where I elected to go with fresh chilled / LFG because I anticipated that frozen with that particular mare could end up being costly.

      I do not price the resulting foal based on the cost of the stud fee - I price foals according to the quality of the individual and relative to what comparable foals bring at that time. I also don't think that a foal by a more expensive stallion would necessarily have a smaller profit margin than one from a less expensive sire - if the $$$$ pedigree gets the foal sold faster, that foal ultimately may be more profitable. And if I am breeding to sell, using an obscure stallion is not going to do me any favors.
      Roseknoll Sporthorses


      • #4
        I try not to let price influence our decisions and pick stallions for our mares on an individual basis. That said, when a stallion owner offers a significant multiple mare discount or a very reasonable basic rate, I am inclined to look hard for a mare that might suit.

        The bottom line is we want a stallion-mare match that is very complimentary....if we can find a less expensive stallion that suits a mare just as well as a more expensive one, I'd be inclined to pick the first if no other important factors come into play like registry options, marketability, previous experience with progeny, etc.


        • #5
          With the huge amount of choice when I start shopping, I set an upper limit in my mind just to help start narrowing the field.
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          • #6
            Since I think, within reason, there is a suitable stallion for almost any mare in every (reasonable!) price range, I did start by setting an upper limit on what I'd spend.

            If I had not found one in my price range that I thought was a great match, I'd have either given up (for now) or considered increasing my limit. What I mean is - I wouldn't have settled on an "ok" stallion just because he was "cheap" enough.
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              I do have an upper limit as I'm a tiny operation and I try to stay in my budget knowing they don't always catch on the first try and the other millions of things that go wrong. However, once I come up with my top matches for my mares, I also look at collection fees, booking fees and customer service reputation.
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              • #8
                Like the other posters.........I choose the stallions I like the best first and within the short list then price would be a deal breaker all other things being equal. OTOH I am not looking to breed to a stallion with a significantly above average stud fee either.
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                • #9
                  I think it is ridiculous to say that the studfee shouldn't be a consideration, while at the same time, we have breeders complaining they are loosing money on their foals.

                  Yes, I look at the studfee, but it is not my first consideration. First and foremost, I want the best stallion for my mare but given the number of stallions available, I can also get one that matches my pocketbook.

                  There is no reason to pour more money into different fees just for the sake of it. Save your pennies for emergencies or for training, where it will be much more valuable.
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                  • #10
                    I've purchased two stud fees in my life, so I can only speak from limited experience, BUT, I too first looked just at stallions and the mare and my requirements.

                    For the first stud, the fee never even became a consideration (I'm not saying it couldn't have, but the stallion was in a normal fee range). What was a deciding factor was collection days and really good fresh semen--which in a way could be a significant factor in the cost of breeding the mare, but was more important to me because I wanted to do everything in my power to ensure I gave her the best chance of conception--I WANTED her baby!! (this was her first AI and she was an older girl).

                    For the second go around (possibly selling her in-foal to this stallion was in the back of my mind) I looked at all the available stallions again, but my criteria had shifted a bit. There was a tie between about 3 candidates and stud fee did become a consideration (although I did not go with the lowest stud fee even in that circumstance). I also ended up using a stallion that had been in my top 5 the previous year.
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                    • #11
                      I look firstly for stallions that I think will complement the mare.

                      Then I try to narrow it down to stallions that are imo most likely to get nice foals (e.g. known 'prepotency' etc).

                      Then I look at the stud fee.

                      If I can't find a stallion that ticks the first two boxes that I can afford (or want to pay) in any particular season, then I won't breed.

                      Having said that, it is easier to find a stallion that fits the boxes and price in breeding WBs than some 'off-breeds' (such as PREs) due to the amount of choice.


                      • #12
                        If you are breeding as a commercial enterprise, you have to consider stud fee cost.

                        In addition to picking a stallion to compliment your mare, the stud fee is a part of a package of economic stallion selection considerations that include semen viability, known/tracked progeny success, stamping abilities, stallion station collection procedures and management, live foal guarantees, etc. that all factor into a stud/collection/booking fee.

                        Knowing a stallion is handled by an excellent station/manager who is up front on collection and semen viability issues can make you more confident - and things like a stallion in competition who may have constraints on viability - if your mare needs fresh chilled - etc. are all economic aspects too. Paying for collection and shipping and your vet for 3-4 collections/shipments can mount up to make the difference in the stud fee negligible.

                        I do think that when you have a plethora of similar, "popular" bloodlines available, price point on the stud fee, viability of semen (esp with frozen) and expertise of the stallion manager should form a package of considerations in the comparison of similar phenotype, genotype stallions. fwiw If you are looking at less saturated bloodlines as a great pick for your mare, then the situation is a little different.


                        • #13
                          VERY good post mdp. There are definitely two mindsets here. If I were breeding for my own horse to keep, price would definitely be much less of a factor. I would breed to whatever I thought would produce the best foal kind of throwing economic caution to the wind. I have definitely done this in the past (of course I ended up with a foal that cost probably 10k when it hit the ground, but hey! )

                          But, when you're breeding as a business, it's just like any other business, good cost control practices and profit margin management, etc. And you're right about the good stallion manager and good semen, plus having a good vet on your end. If we spend 3-4 tries on each mare using a bad vet with at least $500 a pop, when we have 6 mares, you can see how that would get out of hand quickly.

                          So, the stud fee is surely one of the top things to be considered, as well as collection/shipping/vet costs. We try to cycle the mares together to save on vet visits and so forth. Of course we adore our horses and love them like family, but the management has to be treated like any other business.

                          Then comes the classic breeder's connundrum - produce the absolute best horses you can produce no matter what the cost (and go broke) or produce nice horses that sell, and try to recoup some of the tremendous expense...
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                          • #14
                            My goal is always first and foremost to produce the absolute best horses I can produce, otherwise frankly I do not see the point of breeding as there are already plenty of simply "nice" horses out there.

                            As a practical matter, there typically is little difference in price among the stallions I use, so there is rarely any price "dilemma." In other words, the issue is a red herring. In the few cases where one is $500 or $1000 more, as I pointed out before, IF (and that is a big IF) the more expensive one produces a better and more marketable foal - it may be less expensive / more profitable to use the higher priced stallion. And the longer you plan to keep your horses before selling, the less significant, imo, are these small differences in stud fees. I am moving away from selling mine as foals and I can say by the time they are 4 and going well under saddle an extra $500 or so for the stud fee is fairly irrelevant. I think it is exceedingly important not to be penny wise and pound foolish, which often leads me to make decisions that are different than others might make. So far, this approach has served me well, but it does require good judgment regarding when it is worthwhile to spend a bit more and when it is more prudent to cut corners. But as I said, as between two stallions that are otherwise equal / an equally good match for the particular mare, I would pick the less expensive one.
                            Roseknoll Sporthorses


                            • #15
                              here in australia, the stud fee is a big consideration, we pay a lot more for frozen semen that you guys do

                              For instance, belissimo is $2000 per dose, Quaterback is $2000, de niro is $2500, fidertanz is $2500, sir donnerhall is $2500, sandro hit is $6000 etc

                              for the celle stallions we pay for stallions like rotspon and dancier and most others we pay $1300 per dose

                              when you have about 14 mares like i do, putting them all in foal becomes a huge expensem and frankly i dont know how long i can go on paying these prices
                              when i see the prices you guys pay i think that would be so much easier

                              Even the new stallions are coming out at $1500 per dose, which is ridiculous, they used to be $2000 for 3 doses a couple of years ago
                              Most of the PSI stallions are at least this, and they do up every single year

                              for me it is definately a factor and often i am using my second choice stallions because i simply cant afford the huge fees on the popular ones



                              • #16
                                I make my selection list for our mares well in advance of the coming breeding season, without regard to stud fees. I then narrow down the list according to quality and the suitability of each stallion for each mare, generally this will bring the list down to two or three at most. From there, I will decide which stallion and generally the stud fee is not of major concern. Having said that, I would love a Sandro Hit foal but at this point I'm unwilling to spend that amount on one dose of frozen with no guarantee of success. So, I guess that puts me in a category where I have a "cap" in mind of the stud fee, where I weed out the uber expensive before hand.
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                                • #17
                                  I would also consider maiden mare vs proven producer when deciding how much weight to put on the stud fee during my decision making process. A maiden mare may be a great performance horse, a lovely type, or have great bloodlines, but it is still a gamble on how they will produce, and a gamble on how difficult and costly to get them pregnant. So, a stallion that sells for 2000/dose may end up costing me 4000 if it takes 2 tries, AND I may or may not get a nice foal. . . with my proven producer, stallion stud fee is much less likely to come into play. . .
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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by YankeeLawyer View Post
                                    My goal is always first and foremost to produce the absolute best horses I can produce, otherwise frankly I do not see the point of breeding as there are already plenty of simply "nice" horses out there.
                                    Of course - but, unfortunately spending $2500/dose on frozen and then with vet fees, mare care, and all extra expenses we all deal with, to get a foal that is close to 10k investment at birth, with hope to sell for $12k, or less in this economy, is just not worth it if you hope to make any profit... god forbid there are any sick foal expenses, etc. But, if you don't mind of being in the hole afterward of course the sky's the limit. LOL There are also a lot of folks out there that are thrilled with a "nice" horse. They can't afford "the best" anyway.

                                    If we spend $6k or $7k+ just to get the foal on the ground, there is no point in even doing it, unfortunately... too much time, effort and risk.

                                    The classic breeder's condunrum. We struggle with balancing this type thing all the time. With fees coming down in general it's getting a lot easier to produce the quality we all dream of and still not end up broke in the end. LOL I guess that's why they say most breeders only stick it out for 5-6 years. Between the emotional and financial tolls it does get difficult.

                                    I guess it's like they say, you can make a fortune with horses, but you have to start with a bigger fortune.
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                                    • #19
                                      Now that I think about it, I can't honestly say I didn't consider it right off the bat, because I would have looked a lot more closely at For Pleasure (among others) ...

                                      I mean if money was no object, considering my mare is currently 15, I'd be doing ET babies too.

                                      Good thing I'm winning the lotto tomorrow---er...I guess I'd better go buy a ticket
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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                                        Now that I think about it, I can't honestly say I didn't consider it right off the bat, because I would have looked a lot more closely at For Pleasure (among others) ...

                                        I mean if money was no object, considering my mare is currently 15, I'd be doing ET babies too.

                                        Good thing I'm winning the lotto tomorrow---er...I guess I'd better go buy a ticket

                                        I do not pay stud fees often because I use mostly my own stallions. But for the frozen semen I have purchased, price was not a deciding factor; the LFG or no LFG is what made me willing to spend more or less. I looked through lots of stallions and decided on the ones I did because of the way they matched with the mares I was shopping for. I had looked at some very expensive boys and because they were frozen semen with no LFG I would stay away from them because of all the times I may have to *try* again. But if given a LFG on an expensive stallion, I would be more apt to give it a go.

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