Business or Hobby

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I keep seeing comments on various sites from people regarding breeding horses just to make money. Now this is a subject quite relevant to us as when my Father died 5 years ago we had to make the decision of what to do regarding all the brood mares that he left us with. Horses were far more of a hobby than a business to him, he would keep foals until 3 or 4yrs old, and if you worked out what it had cost him to get them to that age he would have lost a fortune on them, but horses were his love and he enjoyed nothing more than sitting in the field watching them.

This was something we could no longer afford to do so we made the decision to register the prefix of Worsenden with Chaps and to try by the powers of the internet to sell the foals at weaning, this way there was a chance we could keep them and make a little money at same time. 5 years down the line I would say we probably just about do this. But times are hard as we all know and keeping horses is not cheap, so what will this year bring? The way our horses are kept is the most natural and cost effective way that could be done, being a working farm as well we have contacts and the machinery needed to be able to buy large bales of hay/straw/haylage. We have large yards where the mares can be kept all together with stallion as well. Currently it is costing us around £200 a week to feed and bed down 12 mares and 1 stallion, and this will be until turnout in May. Working this out it totals around £6000, so over £400 per mare. Summer grazing is on our own ground so not costing us anything. Of course there is still all worming costs etc to be added. So really what I am getting at is that by charging £900-£1000 per foal we make very little money as not all mares will be in foal so making cost of each foal even more.

Breeding horses is something we have always done and I hope always will in one way or another, but at some point we have to look at the figures and decide what will pay the bills. This is another reason why we started the retirement liveries, enabling us to be on farm each day and pay our way, but by no means will we ever be rich.The retirement livery side of things we hope to expand even more this year and would like to build numbers up to around the 20 mark if we can, this is a manageable number for us.

Talking of the retirement liveries we had another two arrive in last month, Gilly a proper coloured cob and Brandy a sweet little mare, they have settled in quickly and happily to the routine.

So thats got that off my chest, it just makes me a little angry when people make such flippant comments regarding making money out of breeding, we do it because we love it not for the money, we would be better off stacking shelves if we added it all up! But you can't beat waking up to a new foal and all the pleasure of selling to new owners and then watching the progress of them. We have a lovely bunch of owners who all follow each others experiences with the babies, and our facebook page is a friendly place to keep track of everything on a day to day basis. So lets hope for another good year and that we can find more people eager to buy our foals so we can carry on for many more years to come.

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