John & Sandra Andrews, Alwyn Park
We’ve been in the breeding game for quite some time. Sandra and I actually started breeding horses here on this farm in 1980. We named our farm Alwyn Park after our two daughters, Alison and Bronwyn, the ‘Al’ coming from Alison and the ‘wyn’ from Bronwyn. Before that I was working for Jeremy Hayes and the first time we sold horses at the yearling sales was in ’74.
I think for me what draws us to this industry is a sense of satisfaction watching these horses as they progress. I do all the foaling down and help these mares have their foals, and then prepare them yearling sales, and then you see them go on to be racehorses and win races, which is very rewarding. I think the horse industry really is a passion. You have to love it, and if you can make money out of it that’s a bonus, that’s the way I’ve always looked at it.
You will always learn something new. Things are always changing and there are always new things popping up that you’ve never heard of before. I’ve heard a couple of stories just this year and you think, how do these things happen, it’s just incredible. These animals continue to surprise you and that’s what keeps it interesting.
This season has been pretty good for us. The mares have all been foaling well and are getting in foal easily. Maschino, one of the stallions we stand, is proving to be extremely fertile and has had a good number of mares. Trade Fair, the other stallion we stand, always gets a good number of mare and is getting the mares in foal. The van serving we are doing with other stallions off farm has all gone smoothly. I think we’ve only had one mare that has had to go back for a second cover, so that certainly makes it easier when they go in foal first up. I put that down to keeping the mares in good general health, regular hoof care and worming, and also providing good nutrition throughout the entire pregnancy. The mares are all on lucerne and oaten chaff, which we cut ourselves and combine with their concentrates. We have all the foals, the weanlings and yearlings on Studmaster from day one. We combine this with a fair amount of lucerne and oaten hay and chaff. The Studmaster is easy to use and covers all our nutritional needs, and or horses are well grown with good bone. I’ve actually had some of my best x-ray results since moving to Studmaster. We use it all the way through yearling prep as well, and add some Equijewel for the prep.
I cut some paddocks for hay, that have been purposely reseeded. That covers us for rolls during the summer. I buy all my oaten hay and Lucerne hay in for chaff cutting – It works out well and I have a good supplier.
We’ve had one problem mare this year, suffering chronic laminitis. Michelle from Milne helped with a specific diet for her using Pegasus Liberty and the turnaround has been great. She might not go on to foal again, but we’ve managed to stabilise her until weaning time. It’s great to have that support.
I only have one tip for getting through the breeding season – patience! I think you just have to go with the flow of how things happen. I’ve done most of the foaling down myself and the only time I had one of the back-up staff in for foal watch nothing foaled down. We did have one experience with Jade, one of the staff, recently. It was a Sunday, of course, and I had to take a mare up to Awesome Rock and a mare at the farm, who was overdue, started to foal. It happened that Nygrie had the weekend off so Jade was on watch. Anyway, on the way up to Gingin I get the phone call ‘John, the mare’s foaling in the paddock!’. Jade had to get the mare in and assist with foaling. I was on the way home by the time she had the foal. They had some trouble getting the foal out and then mare started bleeding. She was in a bad way, her gums were very pale, so it was touch and go there for a while. Anyway, the vet came back twice during the day and by the time I got home they had the mare and foal in the box under treatment. Jade was naturally a bit stressed and I told her she’d completed her apprenticeship that day. Her comment was – ‘I’d prefer not to have!’. Anyway, we managed to save the mare and foal and they are both doing well now – so it all ended well.
Other than that, it’s all been fairly smooth. Our two staff, Nygrie and Jade are excellent and we all work well together. Hopefully, we can continue to breed some winners. My daughter always tells me I keep the slow ones and sell the fast ones – up to date she’s been pretty accurate!