For many reasons, breeding your own horse is an attractive proposition. But it’s not a cheap way of getting your next horse. So if you have a suitable mare and do decide to go ahead, what do you need to budget for?
While natural covering is still used, artificial insemination (AI) with chilled or fresh semen is the most common means of breeding sport horses. Stud feeds can vary from a few hundred to many thousands of pounds, with the average fee in the range of £500 to £1,000. If you’re using frozen semen, check whether the charge is per dose, or on the same stud terms as chilled.
All semen may incur charges for health papers, collection and delivery, which can be as high as £300 from the Continent on a weekend. And don’t foget to budget throughout for VAT, which adds a substantial 20%.
These are inevitable, but most studs offer all-in-one packages in conjunction with a veterinary practice. Prices vary, from around £125 (+VAT) to £350 (+ VAT) for the first cycle only if using frozen semen. Package components vary and it is important to understand what is and isn’t included. Packages for maiden mares and those over 18 can cost more. You can opt to pay vets’ fees in the usual way, rather than via a package if you prefer.
Stud keep charges
If your mare is to be covered naturally, she will have to go to stud. The use of frozen semen requires a high-level of veterinary attention, so sending your mare to a specialist stud is recommended. With fresh and chilled AI, it is possible to breed from an experienced broodmare at home.
The length of stay at stud will vary. If you live locally to the stud your mare can travel to and from between inseminationa and pregnancy confirmation. But a resident mare that doesn’t take for two or three cycles could be away for three or four months. Grass keep from around £5-6 per day will lessen costs, which will soon add up if you want your mare stabled.
Keep for the year
As well as costs for routine horse care (teeth, feet, fodder), it pays to have a vet confirm the mare is still pregnant at the end of the summer. If so, she will require specialist feed in the last trimester and booster vaccinations prior to birth.
Cost of foaling down
Experienced breeders can foal their mare at home, although the vet will need to attend afterwards to check the mare and foal. If you decide to send your mare to stud to foal she will need to arrive in good time and stay until the foal is strong enough to travel home. As well as the foaling fee, there will be around four weeks’ keep, some of which will be stabled.
Once the mare and foal are home, hopefully there won’t be any further major costs, aside from routine care. The foal will need a passport, microchipping and to be registered with the relevant breed society. If he is a colt, there may also be the cost of castration.
An extra cost may be incurred at weaning if either the mare or foal has to go away. After weaning, you will have to keep the foal for three years before he is backed. Over this time you’ll be paying for feed, worming, vaccinations and foot trimming. For those without land, field rent and/or livery charges have to be taken into consideration.
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How much does it cost to breed a horse?
|CEM, EVA and EIA tests||£120||£120|
|Stud fee||£600 + collection fee, delivery and VAT||£840|
|Stud livery (three weeks grass only)||£42 per week + VAT||£150|
|Veterinary package for AI (chilled or fresh semen)||£375||£375|
|Mare’s keep for the year||£1,000||£1,000|
|Autumn pregnancy diagnosis||£60||£60|
|Stud mix||£13 per week||£208|
|Flu and tetanus boosters||£60||£60|
|Foaling fee and mare livery||£400||£400|
|Mare and foal vet check||£80||£80|
|Passport, microchipping, breed registration, DNA test||£200||£200|
|Three years keep including routine care||£1,500 per year (minimum)||£4,500|
|Total approximate cost before backing||£8,113|
NB: These figures give an idea of approximate costs of breeding your own horse, providing everything is straightforward. Any travel costs during this time will be extra. If your foal is a colt, then you may also have castration costs to cover.
Don’t miss this week’s 52-page breeding special of Horse & Hound magazine (10 March 2016)
H&H 14 March 2013