Breeding Your Mare

Breeding Your Mare

The objective of a breeding program is to make progress not just in the short term but also in the long term. It is therefore important that the breeding policies preserve sufficient genetic variety in the population. Especially for a closed studbook such as for the Friesian horse it is important to limit the increase in inbreeding. Even more so, because inbreeding is the cause of the occurrence of hereditary defects and decreased fitness (fertility, resistance to diseases, life expectancy, etc.)

Mare care

Start preparing your mare, months before breeding starts. Are vaccinations and your worming program up to date? A Blood test could show any deficiencies. Have your mare’s reproductive system scanned to see her suitability to conceive.

The KFPS website has many articles on breeding or health information that is helpful to read.

What is your budget?

What cost can you expect:

  • In general the vet cost in regards to breeding using frozen semen is likely to be higher than using chilled semen or life cover.
  • Cost for the stud fee, plus handling/ collecting fees.
  • Allow cost for possible complications that could arise during pregnancy or foaling.
  • Cost for after care of the mare.
  • Cost for the new foal, vaccination, registration.

What are your breeding goals for the resulting foal?

  • a modern, sporty, athletic Friesian for dressage competition.
  • a harness type for show driving or a horse for combined driving.
  • a more classical, or baroque type Friesian.
  • A wonderful, reliable pleasure horse that can be in the paddock for months and then gets saddled for a ride.
  • To produce a breeding mare or stallion.

What could be improved on your mare?

When your mare was admitted to the studbook, you would have received a linear score result. This will provide details about the strong and the weaker points of the mare. Selecting a stallion that would improve some of these weaker points is important.

Temperament

Besides the genetic effects on temperament, there are many things to look at in the postnatal environment. How a foal actually behaves, reacts, or displays a personality might start with genetics but depends on his experiences. There are a number of factors that could influence the foals’ outward behavior on top of his genetics.

Stallion choice

Apart from choosing the stallion you like, it is most important to find the correct combinations. You have to watch the inbreeding % to a specific stallion. The NZFHS and KFPS strive to make as much data available as possible.

If you own a main studbook mare and you would like to have the foal into the main studbook too you need to breed to a studbook stallion. These are the licensed stallions with 3 numbers behind their names. For us in New Zealand this means using frozen semen to get your mare pregnant.

The alternative is to breed to a Foalbook stallion with a breeding permit (who is also in the main book). This is “the next best thing” to a studbook stallion, as they would have come close to being selected as studbook stallion.The advantage is that the stallion is in the country and you can most likely obtain chilled semen.

What are the differences between an approved studbook stallion and a foalbook stallion with a breeding permit?

A studbook stallion has been through a rigorous selection process in Holland consisting of 5 steps:

  1. First round of selection (normally in the Netherlands or the USA). Followed by skeletal x-rays and semen quality tests.
  2. Two subsequent rounds of selection during the stallion keuring/show in January in Friesland each year.
  3. Central (performance) tests (70 days) in autumn each year for the young stallions (from approximately 3 ½ year old), or in spring for the older stallions.
  4. Once the above lengthy and thorough process is completed, out of the very few that are left, only around 1% of the original number for selecting will be admitted to the studbook and be awarded a provisional license with a breeding limit. They then get a new name with the 3 numbers behind them.
  5. Progeny performance testing over 3 generations. Offspring will be selected and has to undergo a performance test (ABFP).

Foalbook stallions with a breeding permit

In New Zealand we have 2 such stallions. Both have been through the above 1st, 2nd and 3rd parts of the process of becoming a licensed stallion.

There are other stallions available for breeding in New Zealand, however proven quality is one of the most important factors and breeding a studbook mare to a studbook stallion comes closest the breeding goals of the KFPS and therefore the NZFHS.

Inbreeding percentage

It is important with the Friesian Breed to keep this below 5% in 5 generations, and since 2014 preferable below 5% for 6 generations as well. This can be calculated for studbook stallions on the KFPS website. Alternatively, for studbook as well as permit stallions you can e-mail the society and request a calculation to be done.

The linear scoresheet

The linear scoresheet of your mare becomes the important part to select a stallion for your mare. The breeding values of your mare determine which characteristics you want to improve.

So for instance if your mare has a downhill body, this stallion could be used to improve that. If your mare’s walk is not her strong point, the stallion could improve that Etc. There are several other things to look at, like white percentage a stallion is throwing in its offspring.

I personally enjoy studying the breeding and genetics and pairing for the best result. I would be happy to help anybody to find the best combination.

Regards your President,
Louis Weitenberg

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