This the season. Stallion service auctions are in full swing, the glossy magazines are being printed.
You are casually looking at some stallion to maybe breed your mare and you come across an ad that advertises a good-looking lad for what looks like a very reasonable stud fee. Before you think this might be a good deal let’s understand the meaning of what is really being advertised here.
Like everything horse breeding has its lingo.
Here are some terms to help you keep track of all the glossy advertisements flashing around if you are considering breeding your mare.
Stallion: what is in a word?
Stallion: a male horse of breeding age, we generally refer to animals less than 2 yrs olds as colts and 2yrs and above as stallion but there is a bit of a grey line there. If the boy is underage and advertised as anything but a stallion prospect: I would be concerned and personally, I would keep on shopping.
Registered: He has papers. Somewhere. With some studbook.
For purebreds this is simple but for warmbloods and sport horses it is better to state what studbook the stallion is registered with specifically.
By the way: Warmbloods can only be registered in only one studbook. Those are them rules.
For example, Buba here on the right is a registered Westfalen stallion. (His dam might be Hanoverian and his sire an Oldenburg: it doesn’t matter: the studbook that issued his papers is Westfalen: that is how Buba is registered.)
Licensed: his offspring (from eligible mares) can be registered with full papers in a particular studbook for a limited amount of time. After that period the carriage turns back into a pumpkin-unless Buba was approved in the meantime.
Ex: Buba is a registered Westfalen stallion, licensed with Westfalen for 2020-2022
Approved: having completed whatever tests are required of him by the studbook (it can be a stallion test, an further inspection, the evaluation of its foals, or a performance career- it really depends on the studbook in question). Buba can be approved and that means that his offspring (from eligible mares) will be able to be registered with full papers from now on. Different studbooks have different requirements and it is possible for Buba to be approved in multiple studbooks.
Ex: Buba is a registered Westfalen stallion approved for Westfalen, Hanoverian and Oldenburg.
Activated: this is a formality that needs to be completed by the owner of Buba. A fee must be paid every year to every studbook in order for foals to be registered by him in that particular studbook.
Ex: Buba is a registered Westfalen stallion approved for Westfalen, Hanoverian and Oldenburg. Activated for 2021 with Oldenburg.
That means that his foals can still be registered with Westfalen and Hanoverian (he is approved after all) but it will cost a bit more to do so.
Ok now that we have his credential sorted out, let’s look at the cost of actually breeding to him.
Stud Fee: The price to pay to get a hold of the genetic material that will actually get your mare pregnant. The price will vary greatly but is generally a key advertising point so not exactly hidden.
The other fees involved
It’s the other fees involved that I want to break down.
Booking Fee: a deposit of some sort that “holds a spot” for your mare. Some stallions have very limited room in their “book” (date card), and therefore you pay a fee to guarantee a spot in it. It may or may not be included in the stud fee. Generally between 250-350$ and it needs to be paid every year that you want to breed to the stallion.
Collection Fee: That is the cost of getting the stallion’s sperm out of him and prepared for shipping so that it can get to your mare. A lot of stallions are collected by veterinarians and that is often the cost that is charged to the stallion owner to “collect” the stallion. It simply gets passed on to the mare owner. Some stallion owners do the collection themselves if they are equipped for it. It is delicate work that needs to be done very correctly. There are some costs associated with it and it can run from $100 to $450 depending on the circumstances.
LFG: it stands for “Live Foal Guarantee”. The details will be in the stallion’s breeding contract but it generally means that no matter how long it takes or how many tries, the stallion owners will keep providing you with semen from his stallion until you get a live foal on the ground. You will still need to pay for the collection and the shipping every time, and if you decide to try again the following year you will likely have to pay the booking fee again, but they will keep trying with you.
Breeding Contract: that is the document that details the particular of your agreement with the stallion owner and all should be well laid out. Read it carefully, make notes, ask questions!
By the Dose: some stallions are offered as a one-shot deal. For a reduced price, they will collect the stallion once (yes: all other related fees still apply: collection and shipping) but after that, they are done. Those arrangements still need a contract however, know what you are paying for. If you want to try again you pay the “By the Dose” fees again.
Shipping costs: that is the cost to ship the stallion semen to the mare. Distance and weight matter here. Shipping semen usually involves using shipping companies that offer next day delivery: FEDEX and UPS most commonly in North America. Fresh semen can be sent in a Styrofoam box packed with a cooling material that weighs about 5 lbs or in a solid plastic container packed with a cooling material that weighs about 13 lbs.
The Styrofoam box is disposable (so you only pay for it: roughly 25$ and you only ship it once: from the stallion to you)- some stallion owners require you to return the shipping container: be aware that is very poor business practice. Those containers are meant to be used once and should not be passed on to the next mare owner (it could be you!).
Keep in mind that the larger more robust and better performing plastic container needs to be shipped twice since it needs to be returned. You might need to pay a rental fee and there is often a deposit involved, as with any rental.
To ship the disposable Styrofoam container you are looking at about $100-$250 anywhere in NA.
For the larger plastic container: about $200 one way (the fast way) and another $100 to return it (no need to hurry it can go by ground on the way back-maybe: read your contract! Did I mention before to read the contract carefully?…).
Crossing the border.
If the stallion is in the US and the mare is in Canada: there are a few extra costs.
The Import Permit: To bring in live material (semen) into Canada you need an import permit. It will run you about 40-60$ and will likely be prepared by your vet but you CAN do it yourself.
The USDA health certificate: it is a document that is required for Canada Custom to accept a shipment of horse semen. Prepared in collaboration with the stallion’s vet and endorsed by the USDA it will cost about $240.
Broker fee: in order for the perishable and fragile fresh semen to go through customs with minimal hiccups it is a good idea to hire a customs broker, their fee is between $100 and $150.
All right this should help you understand the lingo and the various fees associated with choosing a particular stallion.
So now back to that good deal.
Stud fee+booking fee+ collection fee+ shipping+ (in the case of stallions in the US if you are in Canada)+permit+USDA health papers+ broker fee+ returning the shipping container*.
Now if your mare doesn’t catch on her first cycle you need to pay again:
Collection fee+shipping (for us Canadians using a US stallion)+ USDA heath papers+ broker fee+ returning the shipping container*.