A note to nervous breeders

The economic downturn has brought forth challenges for the commercial breeding industry. Like never before, it’s time to be disciplined if we are to overcome those challenges. Thus it’s back to some of the fundamental rules which make for success:

1. Don’t over-mate your mares. As a guide, you should not spend more than 40% of the value of the mare on a stallion service. You should take care to mate on type as well as pedigree to breed an athlete (yearlings in the Melbourne sale this year averaged only 1.53 times their conception service fee – so many breeders lost money).

2. Your first loss is your best loss. Be willing to cull mares if they are not producing athletes for you; it costs just as much to keep a good mare as an average one.

3. Analyse the stallion offerings carefully before making your mating decision and look for stallions which upgrade their mares. In the modern era of varying book sizes, it’s important to look at a stallion’s progeny percentage results rather than just cumulative progeny earnings.

4. Where possible, unproven mares should be joined to proven stallions to increase the chances of success and to underpin the mares’ value.

5. Remember, your mating decisions today will bear fruit in 2012. The recession will hopefully be over by then, so don’t let the current gloom cloud your decision-making process

6. Meet the market on your yearlings, especially colts. The Sales Companies and Aushorse Marketing are working hard to bring all available buyers to the sale. Unless you are prepared to risk trying to sell your yearling in a 2YO in training sale, you should meet the market. However, breeders could retain fillies out of top families for their ultimate residual value if they don’t reach a sensible reserve price as yearlings.

7. Be mindful of where your horse is raised. Environmental issues play a significant role in the development of an athlete.

Don’t get despondent about market conditions; they are temporary. We have a great industry here as exemplified by the quality of the Easter catalogue. We are well-served by a wide range of excellent stallions and we have a wonderful broodmare pool continuing to develop. Our racing is amongst the best in the world. Some of the world’s most influential owners and breeders are directly involved in our industry and we are a market of choice for the burgeoning Asian economies (including China in due course). Those that survive the current conditions will enjoy a strong recovery in bloodstock values on the turnaround.

Times like these can offer up opportunities to acquire extremely well bred fillies or mares at prices well below previous expectations. It’s never a bad time to collect mares like this and begin a disciplined breeding program!