Lyndhurst Stud Farm - Rash Action News

Lyndhurst Stud has a band of 14 nanny mares which are used to provide a fostering service for foals whose mothers have died or cannot nurse them. The practice of using mares to look after foals other than their own is as old as humans breeding horses but in recent years has attracted the attention of animal rights groups who describe the practice as cruel.

Lyndhurst director Jeff Kruger is at a loss to understand why this is so explaining that his mares and the foals they produce and foster enjoy the best of care.

Over the years Lyndhurst has used stallions such as Rash Action, a 19 year old stud veteran to impregnate the Clydesdale and Belgian Blue mares which make up the foster mare herd.

The matings are timed so that Lyndhurst has foster mares producing foals at intervals over the next breeding season.

With 2-300 thoroughbred mares on the property at any one time, there is always the possibility of a mare dying during or after foaling as well as the usual quota of poorly lactating or non-maternal mares whose foals are vulnerable to lack of nutrition during the critical ante-natal period.

"We use heavy horse breeds as our nannies because they produce more milk and they have great maternal natures", Jeff explained.

"They can often look after their own foal plus an orphan and they usually will readily accept a foal other than their own."

The misconception among animal rights groups appears to be the idea that the nanny's own foal is killed in order to allow her to suckle another more valuable thoroughbred foal.

"We have never done that and I don't know of any other stud that does it either", said Jeff, who as a Director of industry group Thoroughbred Breeders Australia was part of a committee which framed a Code of Conduct for the use of nanny mares.

The Code defines best practice for the management and treatment of nanny mares and their foals and outlaws such practices as euthanasia of new-born nanny foals. At all times the welfare of the nanny foal must be considered and it is expected that their breeders will handle them responsibly.

Jeff Kruger is proud of the achievements of Lyndhurst's crossbred progeny which are usually sold at one to two years of age.

"They are sensible sound horses and a bit on the heavier side which suits many of today's buyers", he said.

"We have clients using them for dressage, showjumping, showing and even in harness."

TBA Guidelines for  Foster Mares (pdf) is available online here. "They are sensible sound horses and a bit on the heavier side which suits many of today's buyers", he said.

"We have clients using them for dressage, showjumping, showing and even in harness."

TBA Guidelines for  Foster Mares (pdf) is available online here.