Many Australians are aware of the ‘races’, the Melbourne Cup or perhaps their local race club and country cup, but most are less familiar with how the breeding industry works.
Without the Australian thoroughbred breeding industry, it thousands of mares and stallions and the tens of thousands of people looking after them, there would be no ‘races’.
Here are some of the basics when it comes to the Australian breeding industry and the lifecycle of a horse:
The official Australian breeding season begins on 1 September every year.
From this time, mares can be mated to or ‘covered by’ stallions. In most cases, mares will be transported to stallion farms – sometimes interstate travel is involved
As with all thoroughbred breeding across the world, all matings or “covers” are done naturally.
The mare owner pays the stallion farm a ‘service fee’ which can range from a mere few hundred dollars right through to $100,00 and more for the highest credentialled stallions.
While the average stallion ‘covers’ about 30 mares in the domestic season, the most popular will mate with more than 200 females. Most stallion covers will occur between 1 September and late November.
The average gestation period (time for the foal to be born) for a horse is approximately 340 days (11+ months) so the first foals generally arrive in early August.