A breeding manager can also be a farm manager on some farms and ranches. Breeding managers can oversee the breeding of horses, goats, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and other farm animals. They are in charge of the animals' overall health in conjunction with a veterinarian, and are responsible for record keeping. Other skills may include shipping semen, artificial insemination, embryo transfer, and lab work.
Formal training to become a breeder varies. Breeders of livestock need either an associate's or bachelor's degree in agriculture or animal sciences, and experience working with farm animals. Under the umbrella of animal sciences, animal breeders should take courses in animal breeding, reproductive science, and genetics. Some technical schools and two-year colleges offer associate degrees in animal breeding, and there are many four-year college agriculture schools that offer programs for animal breeders. Typically, those with four-year degrees earn more than those with less education and experience.
Did you know that 85 percent of animal breeders are self-employed? The rest are employed on farms and ranches. Since the demand for breeders is great, most breeders work long hours.
Since most animal breeders are self-employed, they often take additional courses in business and marketing. Knowing how to market your business is essential for making a living. A minority of breeders work for large farms. The ones on large farms often get benefits such as sick days and health insurance.
A purebred horse, like a purebred dog or cat, is worth more money than a mixed breed. Purebreds, which are called thoroughbreds in the world of racing, must be listed in a breeding registry in order to race. The breeding registry is filled with information about the horse's background and health. Raising thoroughbred horses is an expensive business. You need land, housing for the horses, veterinarian and farrier services, and money for food. Because it can get expensive, not too many people enter this profession.
It also takes a long time to raise a racehorse. To raise a winning racehorse, you have to be in this for the long haul.
Not everyone raises horses for racing purposes. Darby Her-rington-Reiter, owner of Fenrevel Farm in Louisiana, has been around horses all of her life. As a child, she spent a lot of time on her grandparents' farm in Texas. There she learned a lot by observing, asking questions, learning to ride, and later on taking courses. She owns eight horses and breeds the Paso Finos with her male Andalusian. “My idea was to crossbreed to get a different kind of horse,” she says. “Paso Finos are smaller and feistier horses. They take a lot longer to mature. By breeding them with an Andalusian, they produce calmer, bigger horses.”
She is a one-woman operation. Though she does hire a farrier and uses a local veterinarian, on a typical day she may repair a broken fence, clean and groom her horses, haul supplies to the barn, and assist with a birth. “There is nothing like seeing a horse born,” she says.
Raising horses has changed over the years due to science. A handful of universities around the country have equine centers that offer degree programs in assisted reproduction services and breeding management services. For instance, at the University of Massachusetts Equine Center, breeders perform embryo transfers, collect semen from stallions for sperm analysis, and handle examinations of mares or stallions with infertility problems.
The thoroughbred racehorse is believed to have been created in the early 1700s. At the time, breeders used Arabian horses because of their streamlined size, which made them swifter than larger, bulkier horses. Most thoroughbreds are bay, chestnut, brown, black, or gray, weigh about 1,000 pounds, and can be sensitive and high-spirited. Lexington, Kentucky, is the breeding hub today.
Many breeders have on-the-job experience. To become a breeder it is essential to understand equine science, so getting a degree is helpful — though not always necessary. You have to start by working on a farm or ranch taking care of the horses and training with a breeder. Once a breeder knows you are sincere, he may let you assist him.
If you don't know any breeders — and even if you do — going to college for a bachelor's degree in equine science will put you at an advantage. However, even with a degree, you will need hands-on experience. All of the college programs offer internships or have farms located right on campus.
The cost of a horse varies greatly. It largely depends on the horse's age and level of training. Most important, before you purchase a horse, make sure that horse is fully examined by a veterinarian.
Some breeders of racehorses can earn six-figure salaries, but those jobs are quite rare. The horse world is small, and a lot of people in the breeding industry know each other. It takes time — even with a degree — to become a breeder. After you have your equine science degree and have spent a few years on a farm or ranch doing grunt work, you will have to apprentice with a breeder. People don't go into this field with high hopes of financial gain. They do it because they love and want to be around horses.
Broodmare managers take care of the mares up until birth. A foaling manager's job is to care for the foal as soon as it is born. Often one person can do both jobs, and breeders can also be broodmare and foaling managers. It all depends on the size of the farm. Larger farms may hire one person for each task. At Fenrevel Farms, Herrington-Reiter is the breeder as well as broodmare and foaling manager. She makes sure the female horses are well cared for during their pregnancies, assists in the delivery of the foals, and makes sure each foal is healthy. She calls a veterinarian as soon as a foal is born.
Once a foal is born, imprinting begins. The foaling manager will introduce the foal to sounds around the barn, gently stroke him, tap on his feet so he will get used to wearing shoes, and get him used to wearing a halter. “You have to start all of this early, so the horse can be trained,” Herrington-Reiter says. “They won't fight you if you start early. They are prey animals and can be scared. You have to make sure early on that they know you are not a predator.”
Salaries depend on where you work. Large farms pay more money and tend to have their broodmare and foaling manager on staff. Some broodmare and foaling managers are self-employed, and many work as breeders.
There are about two million farms in the United States. Large farms and ranches hire farm and stable hands. Farm and stable hands do all sorts of jobs, from making repairs and running equipment to planting and harvesting crops and taking care of farm animals.
Often farm hands and stable hands live on the farm. Their room and board are often covered, and they earn about $20,000 a year. Like farmers, they work long hours, mostly outdoors.
Living expenses for most farm families exceed $50,000 a year. Making a decent living as a farmer or farm hand is tough. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, fewer than one in four farms in this country produce gross revenues in excess of $60,000.
Farm hands must love working outdoors and should enjoy being around animals. Having a high school degree, being physically fit (farm work is hard on the body), and knowing how to operate and repair farm equipment and tend to animals are requirements for the job.