A cross-sectional survey of Thoroughbred stud farm management in the North Island of New Zealand.
ABSTRACT To obtain initial baseline data on the management of Thoroughbred stud farms in the North Island of New Zealand.
Data on the management of Thoroughbred stud farms were collected from a sample of 22 stud farms located in the south Auckland/Waikato region (n=15) and lower North Island (n=7) of New Zealand, using a face-to-face survey. The studmaster provided information on the size, scope and management of the farms during the 2004/2005 breeding season. Analysis was based on the location of the farm and size of the breeding operation (number of resident mares).
Effective farm size ranged from 20 to 526 ha and averaged 167 (standard error (SE) 36) and 88 (SE 49) ha in the south Auckland/Waikato and lower North Island areas, respectively. Some farms in the Auckland/Waikato region stood shuttle stallions. The median number of stallions per farm was three (range 0-9), and the median mare-to-stallion ratio was 43 (range 10-250). The farms had a mean of 50 (range 7-180) wet mares and 21 (range 0-100) dry mares. The number of mares per breeding stallion increased with increasing size of breeding operation (p=0.04), being 28 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 10-56) vs 40 (95% CI=16-74) vs 74 (95% CI=44-113) for moderate (<or=70 mares), medium (90-199 mares) and large (>or=200 mares in total) operations, respectively. Seventy-one percent of farms aimed to breed dry mares early in the breeding season, and used a combination of lights, hormone therapy, and rising plane of nutrition to achieve this. Foaling took place in foaling paddocks monitored using a night foaling attendant (17/22) or with foaling alarms (5/22). At birth, 17/22 studmasters routinely administered antibiotics, 14/22 administered tetanus antitoxin, 9/22 administered an enema to foals, and 2/22 did not routinely administer prophylactic treatments. Weaning occurred at 5 (range 3.7-7) months of age, and foals were confined to a box for 1-2 weeks on 16/22 farms. Weaned foals were drenched with anthelmintics every 7 (range 4-9) weeks, and were fed 2.9 (range 1-6) kg of concentrate feed while at pasture until intensive management associated with preparation of the horses for auction began 13 (range 6-20) weeks before the yearling sales. Eight farms weighed the weanlings, at least monthly, to monitor growth.
The management of Thoroughbred horses was relatively consistent throughout the regions surveyed. Utilisation of breeding stallions tended to be more efficient on the larger stud farms in the south Auckland/Waikato region. Even though foals are grown at pasture they are often provided with large quantities of concentrate feed.