This time of year, you might be considering breeding your mare in the spring. Maybe you’ve even found the perfect stallion to cross on your mare--he’s gorgeous, he has an amazing pedigree and he’s a world champion. Not only that, he’s quiet and kind. The stud fee seems reasonable, and you have visions of making a little money by selling the foal. But beware--your breeding will likely cost much more than just the stud fee.
As little as 20 years ago, most breeding operations used live cover. With live cover, the breeding process was relatively simple. Mare owners sent their mares to the stallion’s farm, where they stayed until they were either pregnant or the breeding season was over, whichever came first. Typically, mare owners bred to a local stallion, or at least one within relatively easy driving distance from home. The mare owner expected to pay a booking fee, the stud fee, boarding costs and some veterinary expenses.
Today, the widespread use of artificial insemination (AI) has changed the breeding process forever. At first glance, AI might appear to be a huge convenience and money-saver, as it is often saves the cost of boarding the mare at the stallion’s farm. However, there are numerous additional costs associated with AI, and those costs can take mare owners by surprise.
Set forth below are common costs reflected in breeding contracts. The price ranges are derived from Equine Legal Solutions’ experiences in drafting contracts for stallion owners, and your costs may differ significantly. The requirements of each breeding contract vary, so be sure to read your contract carefully prior to signing it. As a mare owner, you will also incur additional costs not necessarily reflected in the breeding contract, such as the cost of delivering various notices to the stallion owner via overnight delivery.
Stud Fee or Breeding Fee
This one-time fee is the base amount that you will pay for the stallion’s services. Some breeding contracts require payment of the entire fee prior to insemination; others require partial payment in advance with the balance due when the mare’s pregnancy is confirmed. Stud fees vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Stallion owners trying to promote new stallions may even waive the stud fee for approved mares; however, that does not mean that your breeding will be free of charge, as you will likely incur other fees.
This fee is charged to reserve a place for your mare in the stallion’s upcoming breeding season schedule. It is typically non-refundable and due at the time you enter into the breeding contract. The cost typically ranges from $100 to $800. The booking fee may or may not be part of the breeding fee, so read your contract carefully.
Semen Shipping Deposits and Fees
Containers used for shipping semen are costly, specialized equipment and thus most stallion owners require a deposit from the mare owner before they will ship semen. Typically, this charge ranges from $50 to $250 and is refundable if the mare owner returns the container promptly and in good condition. Contracts may specify a certain number of days within which the container must be returned for a refund, and some stallion owners may charge a fee of as much as $25 per day for each day past the return date (and this fee is often in addition to forfeiting the deposit). Be sure to send the container back to the stallion owner via Federal Express or another method that provides proof of delivery, and do not rely upon your veterinarian to perform this service for you, as you will be solely responsible if the container is not returned on time. Some stallion owners may permit the use of one-time disposable containers, which the mare owner must purchase, and these typically cost around $50 each.
The stallion owner typically charges the mare owner a non-refundable collection fee each time that semen is shipped to the mare owner. Sometimes, the first collection is included in the breeding fee--review your contract for details. The cost generally ranges from $75 to $250 per collection. Some stallion owners charge an additional surcharge of as much as $50 if they receive less than 24 hours notice for a collection.
In addition to collection fees and container deposits, mare owners must pay non-refundable shipping fees to have the semen sent via overnight delivery. These costs typically range from $75 to $200 per shipment, depending upon the destination and shipping method.
In addition to the collection fee, some stallion owners charge mare owners a non-refundable handling fee per collection, which typically ranges from $75 to $150.
In-Season Vet Check
Many breeding contracts require a licensed veterinarian or approved equine reproductive technician to verify that the mare is in season and order the semen from the stallion owner. The mare owner must pay for these costs each time the mare is examined.
Breeding contracts typically require that insemination be performed by a licensed veterinarian or approved equine reproductive technician. The mare owner must pay for these services each time the mare is inseminated.
Pre-Pregnancy Vet Check
Some breeding contracts require the mare owner to obtain a pre-breeding vet check with a negative uterine culture to verify that the mare is breeding sound, particularly for barren mares, maiden mares and mares with a history of reproductive issues. As the mare owner, you are responsible for paying for this service.
Initial Pregnancy Vet Checks
As a condition of the live foal guarantee (see below for details), most breeding contracts require confirmation from a veterinarian that your mare is in foal approximately two to three weeks after the insemination. The mare owner is responsible for paying for this service after each insemination attempt.
No-Pregnancy Vet Check
If your mare does not conceive after two inseminations, the breeding contract may require you to obtain another veterinary certificate that the mare is breeding sound. As the mare owner, you are responsible for the costs of this service.
Second Pregnancy Vet Check
As a condition of the live foal guarantee, most breeding contracts also require an additional pregnancy check about 45 days after insemination. The mare owner is also responsible for paying for this service.