“I love my mare and want to breed her. Should I?”
We get this type of question (or a variation of it) fairly often. The short answer for breeding a Friesian mare is only you can answer that question. Making the decision to breed your mare will depend on a number of factors including bloodlines, temperament, performance ability, age, and breeding soundness. But, those are not the only factors. Breeding can take a lot of time and money, too.
You’ll want to be sure to know exactly what you are getting into before you sign a breeding contract.
Like many breeds, Friesian mares are most commonly bred through artificial insemination. Live cover is still an option with some stallion owners, but it is becoming less common due to the risk of injury for both the mare and the stallion.
The benefit of doing artificial insemination is you will have access to stallions across the country or even across the world from your mare. The downside – cost, but we will get more into that in a minute.
If you are considering a specific Friesian stallion, make sure to run an inbreeding coefficient to make sure they are not too closely related to your mare. As Friesian horses have been close to extinction several times, the bloodlines can run closely together. This is something you need to be aware of and watch for. I could write several blogs on stallion selection alone! There are so many considerations and theories that go into picking the right stallion. The most logical and straightforward advice I have is to thoroughly review your mare’s linear score sheet and compare it to the stallion’s linear score sheet. Your ultimate goal is to improve upon your mare’s weak points.
Stallion breeding contracts will vary depending on the barn and stallion owner, but generally include a stud fee and shipping fees (which are additional, per instance charges). Stallion owners can offer fresh cooled semen, frozen semen, or both. Some veterinarians will have a preference based on their experience and shipping constraints.
Work with your veterinarian and the stallion owner to determine the best choice for your situation. Your veterinarian is an excellent resource during this process. Ask lots of questions!
Many new breeders consider the cost of the stud fee and maybe a small amount for an emergency. Unfortunately, breeding a Friesian mare generally involved much more. As most Friesian mares are bred through artificial insemination, you’ll have significant vet fees involved in any breeding. These vet fees could include trip charges, ultrasound fees to gauge where the mare is in her cycle, medication, semen storage, artificial insemination, post-breeding checks, and Equine Herpesvirus-1 vaccines during gestation.
Once your mare has been bred successfully, you may notice an increase in feed cost, especially during the last several months of gestation.
While many mares foal without a need for intervention, any difficulties lasting more and 15-20 minutes can put both the mare and foal at risk. Many breeders will opt to send their mares to a foaling facility if they do not have an on-call veterinarian close by. Some foaling facilities will charge a flat rate for the mare and foal, while others will charge a daily rate. You can tour foaling facilities near your barn to learn more about their policies and pricing structures.
Ultimately, breeding and foaling out your mare can range anywhere from $4,000-15,000, if you have major issues during the pregnancy or during foaling.
If you choose to breed your mare, you’ll find you will be very busy for periods of time, then waiting for long periods of time. The initial breeding process can be very time-consuming, especially if you make several attempts. Then, you will care for your mare as normal throughout her pregnancy.
Once your foal is born, you will have the post-partum care of your mare (if you did not send her to a foaling facility) and the responsibility of caring for and training a new foal. This is where your time disappears quickly! i.e. this is not the time to be out of town.
I’ve been around horses my entire life, but my Friesian journey started just over 20 years ago. Our horses have always been a part of our family. They have traveled with us as we relocated from Vermont to New York to Iowa and finally, to Arizona. I can’t wait to share our story with you!
Jul 19, 2021
LET'S BE FRIENDS ON INSTAGRAM