Some breeders are covering fewer mares this year due to market forcesPICTURE:EDWARD WHITAKER
Are you reducing your broodmare band for 2010?
Pat O'Kelly, Flat breeder, Kilcarn Stud, Co Meath
"My broodmare numbers this year have been reduced slightly, more by chance than good management. I retired Welsh Love last year after she'd foaled, and I sold another, Lucky Rainbow, as she didn't have much luck with her first foals.
So this year I only have ten mares going to stud instead of 12. Usually I would have bought another one or two, but decided not to as last year I made very much less money for my yearlings than usual.
We're mating this year to sell in 2012, so one could hope for an improvement by then. If you are not sending your mares to stud you have a very nasty gap [in their progeny record], you may have a nice yearling but without enough runners in the family they would be harder to sell.
You need runners or the mare won't have any winners, so it cuts both ways. I'm only cutting back in a very small way. At the moment I'm just going to have to subsidise it a bit.
It's not easy to economise on stallion fees. Spirit Of Tara is going to Sea The Stars, I'm also using Oasis Dream - if you don't use these stallions one year it can be harder to get in with them the following year."
John McEnery, Flat breeder, Rossanarra Stud
"I was happy enough with my broodmare band. Over the last ten years I had invested in stallion shares and used nominations from them. In the last few weeks I've found the stallions have been moved on. Therefore I had to sit down and have a rethink about my mating plans.
I've decided that I'm not going to cover the late foalers, and perhaps one or two may need culling. We'll cover 11 and rest five, and I'd be intending to replace the foals I won't get at the foal sales.
I suppose it's all because of the economy, but to me a mare's a mare. If you thought her good enough to buy one day I don't see why you'd say "to hell with it" the next.I have to go to the right stallions, we have to go for quality."
Philip Hore - jumps breeder, Mount Eaton Stud, Co Wexford
"I keep three jumps mares and my Dad has five, whereas three years ago I'd have had maybe six and Dad eight. We've steadily reduced the numbers in that time - we'd sell some at the sales, old ones weren't replaced.
We didn't put any down or anything and we didn't have to give any away. You don't generally want to keep many mares at the moment. We don't cover the late ones any more, whereas other years we would have done.
The sales prices have not necessarily dropped for the good stock. I'll still use the same stallions, Presenting, King's Theatre, Flemensfirth, Kayf Tara. Before an average mare would pay her way, now she won't."
Richard Lingwood - Flat breeder, Norton Grove Stud, North Yorkshire
"We reduced our number of mares last year by half; we had 11 or 12 now we have six, and only one of those was covered last year, that was my wife's mare, she twisted my arm!
We may cover a couple this year, but having seen the sales prices so far, maybe we won't. We're operating at the bottom end, our mares are moderate really. They've bred winners, but while before you could get a few thousand for their foals, now you can't give them away.
We do it for the love of it. It's heartbreaking to get foals, keep them as yearlings, go through the sales preparation, go to the sales and then get no bid. We enjoy going to the sales, and if you are able to make a bit on them then that's the cream, but it's no good when people don't even want to look at your yearlings.
If things were looking like they were picking upagain we would certainly think about covering them all again."
Kevin O'Donnell - Flat and jumps breeder and trainer, Bramblestown Stud, Co Kilkenny
"We have three Flat and three jumping mares, which would be about normal for us. It does fluctuate depending on the quality of mares we have coming out of training.
We're always going for quality rather than quantity. Good mares are worth breeding from in good times or bad.
We're probably spending less on stallion fees for our jumping mares this year - rather than use the King's Theatres and Flemensfirths we'll use €2,000 stallions instead."
Gilly Metherell - jumps breeder, Cotley Hill Stud, Wiltshire
"I'm going to cut down to two mares, and I've got four at the moment. I'll keep my best mare, Gaspaisie who bred Gaspara and Mr Thriller, and I've got a three-year-old daughter of hers that I'll keep to breed from.
The other three I will have to get rid of. Vet's bills alone are about £1,000 a month. If you're selling a three-year-old store for £30,000 or £40,000 thousand it's worth it, otherwise it's not.
People at the bottom end are going to have to either give it up or subsidise it out of their own pocket."