Planning for a foal is exciting. Yet, the road to putting four tiny hooves on the ground requires more than 12 months of advance planning. There’s a proper mating to consider, paperwork to read through and a budget to stick to: Unless you prefer unexpected, financial losses.
As mare owner, you will have certain expectations when you enter into a breeding agreement with a stallion owner or manager. If your contract does not adequately address your concerns, it is your responsibility to understand what your contract states, before signing it. Specifically, you should understand your fees and which of them may or may not be refundable. And always remember, any services performed by a veterinarian are not included in the set of fees seen on a breeding contract. Veterinarian fees are in addition to a stallion agreement.
Whether you work with a veterinarian or breeding facility to get your mare in foal, Canadians in particular, should research what the contract says about procedures that must be followed to order shipped semen. For example, does a particular stallion require same-day delivery? What happens if the stallion owner receives numerous requests for shipped semen on the same day and cannot honor them all? Further to this notion, it’s wise for mare owners to understand what happens with fees paid if the stallion (or mare for that matter), is sold before the contract is complete.
Mare owners should also pay attention to the stallion’s breeding season duration and know the last day he is available for service. And if the mare is not confirmed pregnant prior to the end of the season, know how many breeding seasons you will be able to keep trying to breed your mare.
Breeding contracts are usually also very specific regarding what type and when, pregnancy checks are required. Some contracts will even state who must perform a check and the type of documentation that must be submitted to the breeder. Breeding soundness can be an entirely different frustration so it’s best to understand what your worst case scenario is, before entering into an agreement.
And beyond all of the above, breeding contract foal assurances are another important aspect to consider, prior to first stage labour. Many breeding contracts will often ease a mare owner’s mind with the promise of a Live Foal Guarantee. Often a live foal is defined as a foal that stands and nurses. However, keep in mind that just because a foal can get to its feet and take a drink, does not necessarily mean it is a healthy baby. Say for instance, you have bred a Paint to a Paint stallion – does your contract consider the possibility of lethal white syndrome?
Lastly, mare owners must fully understand what state or province’s law will apply, and where parties must bring a claim, should one occur. Just because a semen shipment is sent to Canada, does not mean the Canadian justice system can defend a mare owner in the event a breeding contract is not carried to completion.
And while a breeding agreement may seem daunting to begin with, the end result of a beautiful foal is worth every worry. Enter into the contract knowing the real cost of breeding your mare will be more than simply just the stud fee and all parties involved will consequently have a better, working relationship.
Common Terms & Definitions of a Breeding Contract:
• Parties of the Contract – The names of the owners of both the mare and stallion should begin the contract. This section should include the address and phone numbers for both parties.
• Stallion – The stud must be clearly identified, including his registration number(s). His location must also be specified, in addition to the season year he will be standing there.
• Stud Fee – This one-time fee is for the stallion’s services. Some fees are required in full prior to shipping semen or insemination of a mare. Other stallion owners/managers may request only part of the stud fee, with the balance remaining to be paid in full once the mare is confirmed pregnant. *Price range for western performance stallions can be anywhere from $250 to a private treaty.
• Booking Fee – This fee is charged to reserve a place for your mare in the breeding schedule. Usually, the booking fee is non-refundable and due at the time you enter into the breeding contract. May be included, or in addition to, the stud fee, so read your contract carefully. *Price range $100-$5,000.
• Farm Fee – This fee goes straight to the stallion station or farm responsible for standing the stallion. It can cover the service of collecting the stud and preparing the semen for shipment, or insemination. This is not a common fee on stallion contracts. *Price range $100-$800.
• Chute Fee – This fee is for mares that are on site for breeding and to cover the costs and time of teasing or watching her heat cycles. This fee should always be for “on farm” breedings only. *Price range $100-$600.
• Semen Shipping Deposits and Fees – Equitainers or specialized containers required to ship semen are expensive pieces of equipment and therefore, many stallion owners require a deposit on them before they will ship the container out. However, this fee is usually refundable if the container is returned in a timely manner and in the same shape it was sent in. This fee may or may not also include courier services *Price range $50-$500.
• Shipping Fee – This is commonly a collection and processing fee for the stallion station. Do not confuse it with a semen shipping fee as sometimes, they are two different fees. Some stallion stations may charge a shipping fee and then send a shipment collect. Although these fees will likely be outlined in your contract, they may be confusing at first. It is recommended to speak with the stallion station to go over all fees to prevent surprises. *Price range $50-$450.
• Collection Fee – The stallion station or manager may charge a fee every time the stallion is collected to be shipped to the mare. Often the first shipment is included in the breeding fee, with additional shipments at a specific cost. Review your contract for details. *Price range – $75 to $400.
• Handling Fee – In addition to the collection fee, a fee for the handling per collection is charged by the stallion owner to the mare owner. This fee is non-refundable and sometimes is blended in with a farm fee or a semen shipping fee. * Price range $75-$150.