Understand the Expense and Risk in Breeding!
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February 13, 2013
By Bob
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If you are a horse breeder there is no greater joy than witnessing the birth of a foal and hearing that first little nicker. It does not matter how many years you have been breeding horses or how many foals you have seen born, it never gets old! Your emotions can range from absolute euphoria to utter disappointment. Your emotions to a great extent are influenced by decisions you made a year prior to the foal’s birth. Contributing to your emotion is generally a large amount of expense and considerable risk associated with any breeding decision. Hence, considerable thought should not only be utilized in the selection of a stallion, but also to the total cost of breeding. Far too many times the ancillary cost exceeds the stallion’s breeding fee.

In understanding and budgeting the total cost to breed you should consider the following at a minimum.

  • The mares reproductive health
  • The mares conception probability
  • Your plans for the resulting foal based on its gender.
  • The marketability of a foal based on its gender
  • The stallion owner’s contract provisions
  • The stallion owner’s business reputation
  • The stallion’s breeding fee
  • The stallion’s semen fees (Live Cover, AI or Frozen)
  • The stallion’s conception record (semen quality)
  • Your veterinarian’s cost
  • Your veterinarian’s pregnancy success record
  • The projected cost associated with your plans for the resulting foal

Each consideration is supported by a substantial amount of detail. We have all heard the expression; “The devil is in the details.” When it comes to breeding the expression should be modified to be; “The risk is in the detail.” The information you need should be easily obtained from a professionally managed reproduction facility and veterinarian service. A ‘Red Flag’ should go up for any information that cannot be obtained or doesn’t meet your minimum criteria. Your decision process should include evaluating every ‘Red Flag’ and its potential impact on both the risk and the total cost associated with your eventual decision. You are probably paying a lot of money – a lot being relative to your own financial risk threshold. You as the customer have every right to receive value for which you are paying. Your financial risk analysis cannot be accurately concluded without the information you require to make a responsible decision.

A real horse business management system (not just a record keeping system) will enable you and the reproduction facility and or veterinarian service to easily measure and manage a stallion’s production and breeding successes and or a mare’s estrous cycle and pregnancy successes. A management system makes it easy to obtain the information needed to make an informed decision with little to no additional expense. The system should automatically provide the professional documentation needed for financial purposes and a stallion’s or mare’s current and historical reproductive performance.

There is nothing more unsettling then to receive a semen shipment with a hand written note that has little information. Not only is it unprofessional, it is easy to assume (fair or not) that the information does not accurately represent the semen’s parameters or quality. No one doubts that standing a stallion is expensive – very expensive. There are advertising and promotion cost, capital investment, and operating expense to name a few. Nevertheless, if you stand a stallion you have the obligation to deliver a good product at a fair price.  The mare owner is investing a lot of money to breed to your stallion.

The mare owner also has an equal responsibility to the stallion owner. The mare owner has an obligation to make sure their mare is ready to breed. Ready to breed includes the mare’s conditioning and age, having her preventative care up to date, and making sure she is in good reproductive health. All of which should be part of the ongoing care and management of a breeding mare. Using a horse business management system with the applicable reminders will enable you to easily measure and manage your mare’s reproductive health making sure nothing falls through the crack. A mare owner cannot complain about a stallion’s inability to get their mare in foal if their mare is not ready to breed.

Your veterinarian also plays an important role in your breeding decision. As in any profession there are good and there are not so good reproduction veterinarians. The same discipline and care should be taken when considering your choice for a reproduction veterinarian. The veterinarian cost to breed a mare can easily exceed several hundred dollars. If a pregnancy doesn’t result from the first try you could be looking at a considerable veterinarian expense.

The cost of a horse business management system is insignificant when you consider the breeding cost and risk you are trying to justify. Once purchased, a horse business management system assists you in managing all aspects of your horse business year after year. It will not only provide you with management assistance, but will help you control and reduce the cost of operating your entire horse business.

Horse Business Management – Mare Reproduction

Horse Business Management – Stallion Reproduction

Underlying the success of any horse business and the management system you chose is your commitment to keep your system current and use the information it provides to assist you in making good business decisions. Believe me; you need a horse business management system! But, purchasing one if you do not have the ‘business discipline’ to keep it current and use it is a bad business decision, and probably not the management system’s fault!

To be successful in a horse business does not require a finance education, but it does require business discipline and an understanding of what your financials are telling you. This understanding will enable you to make better business decisions. A good Horse Business Management System will do the calculations for you and analyze and report the results with comments or suggestions. A good Horse Business Management System will save you valuable time you can then use to improve your business. I encourage you to investigate how equineGenie not only helps you manage and care for your horses and manage your business operations and support your customers, but helps you be financially successful.

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Happy Trails, Good Management and Business Discipline Always!

Bob Valentine, Ph.D.
GenieCo, Inc.
Box 271924
Ft. Collins, CO 80527
970.682.2645 or 970.231.1455

Dr. Valentine taught Equine Business Management to graduating seniors in the Equine Science Department at Colorado State University. He has been involved in the horse business for too long. If you have any questions, you can reach Bob at bob@genieatwork.com, or call him at 970.682.2645 or 970.231.1455 (mobile).

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