Horse Farms, How Do You Do It? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 08-05-2013, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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Smile Horse Farms, How Do You Do It?

Hello everyone, I've noticed that there are a few folks on here that have large (20-30 broodmares) horse herds, and my question is, how do you operate?

Do you have your own studs? Do you keep them in a separate barn? Can you group them together or do they have their own individual stall/turnout/pasture?

How about the broodmares do you all have a barn big enough to hold all the mares at once?

If you actually had 20-30 foals, how long does it take to halter "teach/break" & wean them all at the same time?
Do you halter break them all at once as in a matter of a few days? Is it possible to get it done by yourself, or do you hire help? Do you have a separate barn area/pasture for the weaned ones?

Anyway these are just a few of my questions, I'm not going to be a breeder anytime soon, but I've always been curious how you all manage/work a herd that big and how long things take. Any input or even pictures of the barn setup would be great!

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post #2 of 25 Old 08-05-2013, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Bumping up. :)

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post #3 of 25 Old 08-05-2013, 05:50 PM
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I don't have a large operation but I have worked at a few. I think it all depends on the horses. We have folks that own mini's and they only do natural cover. Stallions and mares turned out group style. They watch breeding dates and set cameras from there. They spend a lot of time working/training the horses. I have seen others run breeding operations using AI. They spend as much or more time imprinting the foals and caring for the mares. Again thats a family operation.

Some folks just let the stallion run with mares. Let the mares foal out and then start working with the yearlings as far as training. Others want to be boots on the ground in the stall during foaling. Its all about owner preference, space and ideology.
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post #4 of 25 Old 08-06-2013, 02:00 AM
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I was given 2 brood mares from a folding operation (the father passed away and the son had no interest). They had about 30 mares, 1 stud and he ran with the mares. The mares foaled in the pasture, his view was natural was always better. He did not train the foals at all, in fact he didn't touch them. He had great bloodlines and his horses were sought after, but you had a wild one on your hands.
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post #5 of 25 Old 08-06-2013, 02:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyJoy View Post

Do you have your own studs? Do you keep them in a separate barn? Can you group them together or do they have their own individual stall/turnout/pasture?
Please tell me you're not referring to the studs...
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post #6 of 25 Old 08-06-2013, 05:37 AM
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We don't run a breeding business, but the breeder that we had always used had 30+ mares back in the days you could make money in the business.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyJoy View Post
Do you have your own studs? Do you keep them in a separate barn? Can you group them together or do they have their own individual stall/turnout/pasture?
They had one stallion, separate shelter and pasture separated from the mares by a double fence. Mares in season will literally destroy a fence if they share it directly with a stallion. They did all live cover/hand breeding.

Quote:
How about the broodmares do you all have a barn big enough to hold all the mares at once?
They had foaling stalls and/or shelters w/paddocks. They typically only bred 3-5 of their own mares a season, sometimes more depending on the horse market, their need to replenish their supply of both horses to sell, their trail and lesson horses, and any projects their children were doing, e.g. 4H, etc.

Quote:
If you actually had 20-30 foals, how long does it take to halter "teach/break" & wean them all at the same time?
Do you halter break them all at once as in a matter of a few days? Is it possible to get it done by yourself, or do you hire help?
That's why farm families have children Seriously, though, with that many you can't do it all yourself and you do hire help.

Quote:
Do you have a separate barn area/pasture for the weaned ones?
They kept the young ones in separate pastures w/shelters from the main herds.
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post #7 of 25 Old 08-06-2013, 06:17 AM
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I've had up to 60 mares, had a stallion, used outside stallions and yes, had to have help. We're always very careful how many we breed, rarely more than 4 or 5 of our own. We've done AI and hand bred, I don't just toss them all on pasture and hope for the best, I feel that's courting disaster.

Most stallions can't run together, they won't tolerate each other. I keep my stallion in his own pasture and he runs either with pregnant mares for company or, the case right now, 2 young geldings are his partners in crime. I'm very lucky, my stallion is laid back and tolerant, some won't tolerate geldings either. The open mares are on another pasture that's separated from the stallion's pasture by a WIDE driveway. Both pastures hare fenced in wire mesh and hot wire. The mare's pasture has hot wire running on top of the mesh fencing and the stallion's pasture has the hot wire running 3 feet inside the wire mesh fencing.

I've cut way back on my number of horses, I currently have 8 and that includes one boarder. The stallion has a very secure stall in the barn, and I keep the stallion & 3 geldings on one side of the barn and 4 mares on the other side, across a 12 ft aisle. The stallion is happy, quiet and has no vices and I feel like it's because he's around "his" girls and can see what's going on and socialize with friends.

We have foaling stalls in another barn and they're about twice the size of normal stalls. They're set up with cameras so that we can monitor the mares while they're getting ready to foal. I bring the mares up about 1 month before foaling so they get used to the stall and the yard that's attached to that barn. That way they don't ever have to worry about other horses interfering with their newborns and mom & foal can bond. I watch the delivery on the monitor and unless there are problems, I don't go out until mom & foal have had time to bond. I handle all new foals extensively from the day they are born. I've found it makes them much easier to train and saddle break later on. I don't do any imprinting, I just let them get used to me, used to wearing a halter and learning to walk on a lead for the first 4-5 months. Then I start doing ground work for very short periods. By the time the baby is 6 months old I expect it to halter, lead, bathe, load and ride in a trailer and be clipped a little.
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post #8 of 25 Old 08-06-2013, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info!

First I'll address Xlioness. Yes, I was talking about the studs, I had wondered about people having a "stallion" barn with numerous studs and wondered how they coped. I had also heard about "bachelor" herds and wasn't sure what that was. You may think I am crazy for asking, but I wondered that if the studs were on a separate area, like a mile away, if they would calm down not being around mares.

"That's why farm families have children Seriously, though, with that many you can't do it all yourself and you do hire help." by PaintHorseMares

^^That's what I was wondering! I got to thinking how long it takes for me to mess with three horses a day let alone 30...

This is how I think it to be, tell me how off I am. :)

After the foals are weaned they would be put in a separate pasture/corral, they would be worked a few (how many do you work a day?) a day to be halter broke, and I'd think the breeder would try to sell (take pictures post online (auction??)etc)as many as possible at this age to have more time for the rest. Then what ever didn't sell as weanlings, depending on the breeders situation, he would handle them as much as possible then send them out to pasture until 3 (still having them up for sale)???

I could see that natural birth out in a close pasture would be easier for a large herd, that being said, you must really have to keep an eye out with that many foaling.

My hat is off to those that do it. I suppose your set up (barns/pastures etc.) is critical to how smoothly things go. I would also think you wouldn't go out one day and buy yourself 30 broodmares and expect to survive throughout the summer still having sanity.


How many acres does one have to have to support one mare and foal?

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Last edited by EmilyJoy; 08-06-2013 at 10:55 AM.
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post #9 of 25 Old 08-06-2013, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyJoy View Post
After the foals are weaned they would be put in a separate pasture/corral, they would be worked a few (how many do you work a day?) a day to be halter broke, and I'd think the breeder would try to sell (take pictures post online (auction??)etc)as many as possible at this age to have more time for the rest. Then what ever didn't sell as weanlings, depending on the breeders situation, he would handle them as much as possible then send them out to pasture until 3 (still having them up for sale)???
You work as many as you can with the help and time you have. How much you can do depends on a lot of things beyond your control, e.g. the weather, etc. You may even send a few out to a trainer.
On a farm, everything is always for sale, it's just a question of price and/or what you have to trade. Farms tend to have lots of valuable assets, but little cash, so anything you can sell for real $$s is always a plus.
Our breeder didn't send what didn't sell out to pasture, though. They would continue to work them on the basic ground skills you do in showmanship class the first two years and show at local shows (good advertising). This also gives you some time to see if you have any real 'diamonds in the rough' that you want to invest in for bigger $$s down the road.

Quote:
I could see that natural birth out in a close pasture would be easier for a large herd, that being said, you must really have to keep an eye out with that many foaling.
Many nights sleeping in the barn aisle indeed.

Quote:
My hat is off to those that do it. I suppose your set up (barns/pastures etc.) is critical to how smoothly things go.
You hit it on the head. Setup and planning is everything. Otherwise, you can never get all the work done.

Quote:
How many acres does one have to have to support one mare and foal?
A mare with a foal really doesn't need anymore room than the mare by herself. This year, we kept our Lady and her foal Buckshot by themselves for almost 3 months in about 2 acres (separated from the other mares by a fence). She had been separated anyway the last 90 days to get her off our normal fescue hay.
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post #10 of 25 Old 08-06-2013, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyJoy View Post

First I'll address Xlioness. Yes, I was talking about the studs, I had wondered about people having a "stallion" barn with numerous studs and wondered how they coped. I had also heard about "bachelor" herds and wasn't sure what that was. You may think I am crazy for asking, but I wondered that if the studs were on a separate area, like a mile away, if they would calm down not being around mares.
I just read a study about this very thing, but I can't remember where it was. It was a magazine, not a website, but I can't remember which one... Anyway, somebody did an experiment where they tried to make several warmblood stallions into a bachelor herd and it was successful. There were a few minor injuries but nothing worse than what other horses do when they're trying to establish a hierarchy. Of course there were no mares anywhere close by.
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