Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Foal prices up 42pc, but still losing money

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Falling foal numbers and the introduction of elite sales specifically targeting show-jumping buyers resulted in a 42pc increase in the average auction price of foals in 2013, new research has shown.

The average price of foals sold at auction in Cavan and Goresbridge this year was €1,577/hd, according to Teagasc equine specialist Declan McArdle.

But when the results of elite foal sales such as the Irish Breeders Classic sale and the Cavan Elite Foal sale were included, the average sale price increased to €2,242/hd, a hike of 42pc, delegates at the Teagasc National Equine Conference in Tullamore were told.

The average price of a foal sold in the elite sales was €5,239, more than three times the average of the foal sold in the non-elite sales.

Mr McArdle said the introduction of elite sales had brought breeders and buyers together and was a successful template that should be followed in future years.

Falling foal numbers were also a factor in the upturn in foal sales for 2013, he added.

Sport horse foal numbers fell to just over 5,000 in 2013 -- just half of the 10,424 sport horse foals registered in 2008 -- as breeders ratchet back on foal production.

Despite the increase in foal prices, the vast majority of foals sold at auction are not capable of returning any profit.

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The cash costs of producing a foal to weaning stage amount to €1,651/hd, according to Teagasc research. This means the average foal selling for €1,577/hd at normal sales actually costs his breeder €74. But the picture is bleaker than that, because the €1,651/hd does not include the cost of labour, land or stud fee for the foal.

Mr McArdle told the conference that, assuming an average stud fee of €1,200, only the top 20pc of foals sold in Ireland this year would have yielded any return for their breeders.

Teagasc , Horse Sport Ireland and the RDS are drafting a strategic plan for the sport horse sector in Ireland, which is due to be published in 2014.

Irish Independent