Scarvagh House Stud
set to close down
ALFRED Buller's Scarvagh House Stud in Northern Ireland is to close as a public stud after 15 years of operation. Buller stood his first stallion, Zaffaran, at the 1,250-acre stud in 1993, since when Scarvagh has expanded into one of the largest stallion operations in Europe.
"I want to spend more time with my kids," said Buller. "But I also think that the industry is facing massive issues, especially with overproduction, and there has to be changes.
"We offered a very good service but the reality of it was that it was not sustainable," he added, alludingto Scarvagh's Flat Rate Scheme which provided mares owners with keep, veterinary bills and transport in return for one single payment.
"There isn't the demand for foals and it's very hard to justify putting more money into it."
Although Scarvagh once catered for as many as 16 stallions, the roster is now made up by half that number including Derby winner Generous. Scarvagh was also set to stand German import Black Sam Bellamy next season.
Buller says that there has already been a lot of interest in the stallions, who will be sold or transferred elsewhere within the near future. However, Buller is likely to retain 30 mares.
"I have a lot of big projects going on in England, so this is just a hobby," he said. "I've enjoyed the past 20 years but I've also struggled with a lot of issues.
"Northern Ireland is a very difficult place to operate from; you have to collect the mares to go to stud and there are no breeders' prices."
The stud employs approximately 90 members of staff led by general manager Gerry McGivern and stud manager Russell Ferris.
Until recently it also comprised of Sandley Stud in Dorset, which stood several stallions following its launch in 2004. However, that arm of the operation was closed in December last year after failing to attract the volume of boarding mares needed to make it financially viable.