Teagasc targets breeding losses

LAST YEAR was a difficult one for breeders and the autumn's three-year-old and foal prices have given breeders much to think about.

Many involved in the industry consider it to be a necessary and overdue wake-up call, but the situation where hundreds of foals fail to reach the cost of their stud fee, never mind other production costs, cannot continue.

Far more worrying with the three-year-old trade was the fact that buyers did not find enough of the 'right sorts'. Whether they were seeking a showjumper or an eventer, too many returned home with their order books unfilled. Most felt that the quality of stock was poor.

The widening gap between the top and bottom end of the market shows that the professional breeders and producers who present good, correct stock from well-related mares were still rewarded, albeit less than in previous years. These individuals are in the minority. It is at the lower end of the market that problems arise.

These problems will be addressed at two upcoming Teagasc 'Steps to Successful Breeding' demonstrations.

Run in association with the Army Equitation School, the demonstration evenings are at Doyle's Equestrian Centre in Rathvilly, Carlow, on February 18 and Ravensdale Equestrian Centre, Dundalk, Co Louth, on February 24.

Beginning each evening at 7pm, the demonstrations aim to identify some of the issues which must be solved.

The Teagasc equine team will address the area of adding value to your produce. Advice will be offered and demonstrations provided on young horse production techniques.

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Breeder, ex-international event rider and trainer John Watson and his son, Sam, who is currently competing on the international circuit, will demonstrate and discuss their passions for breeding and producing eventers and the principles by which they successfully operate.

The Army Equitation School will demonstrate the desired requirements for international-level showjumpers and to discuss the challenges facing breeders in producing for the sport.

Entry to each evening is €10 and everyone is welcome.

Meanwhile, Teagasc is to repeat its hugely successful Horsemanship Skills course in the early part of next month.

The 10-week course starts on March 4 in the Maryville Equestrian Centre, Carrigaline, Co Cork and costs €200.

Participants will be shown how to start basic handling, how to show a horse in hand, lunge a horse on the flat and over a fence, and how to loose school a young horse.

This is a hands-on course and it is essential that participants bring their own horse. The horse must be a minimum of three years old and ideally not older than four, sound and in good health. No stallions are allowed on the course.

Teagasc equine specialist Declan McArdle will be the instructor for the FETAC Level 5 accredited course. Day one is a full day, and from day two onwards individuals will come for either a morning or afternoon session.

Places on this course are limited to 10 so early booking is essential.

For further details or to book your place, contact Teagasc equine adviser Ruth Fennell on 087 960 2537.

Irish Independent

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