Shipping semen to Southern Hemisphere countries such as Australia or Brazil can be a great opportunity for an American-based stallion, but seizing that opportunity is a process.
Shane Plummer, owner of SDP Buffalo Ranch, has been involved in the Southern hemisphere markets for years – particularly Australia, which has a strong stock horse culture – and says certain countries can offer opportunity for stallion owners seeking another revenue stream for their studs.
In Part 2 of this three-part series of Industry Insider with SDP, Plummer explains the process, costs and requirements for getting a stallion authorized to ship semen to Southern Hemisphere countries and the pitfalls he’s learned to avoid.
Click here to read Part 1 of this series, where Plummer explored the current demand and trends for U.S.-based stallions in the Southern Hemisphere.
QHN: What is the process is for shipping frozen semen from a stallion based at SDP Buffalo Ranch to a mare in the Southern hemisphere? How does this compare to the process in which semen is ordered and shipped to domestic customers?
Plummer: For a domestic breeding, the logistics are simple for the most part: once you have a contract, then knowing which days the stallion station collects and your need for onsite, same-day flight via counter-to-counter shipment or next day is about all you need to worry about.
Internationally, the stallion owner has many hoops to jump through to make sure the stallion qualifies for export through government-mandated virology testing and also, if the stallion is eligible for registration in that country’s registry. Having American Quarter Horse Association papers just isn’t important in some places.
Your stallion will need to be quarantined at a USDA approved quarantine station, such as my place at SDP Buffalo Ranch, while the testing is going on. Sometimes, you can freeze during the testing phases and whatever inventory you accumulate will be exportable once the testing is complete. Sometimes, that isn’t the case and all testing has to be done first. Knowing all of this red tape, is important for you to not spend money when you don’t have to or go down rabbit holes that just lead to dead ends.
Once all of this is done and you have inventory to ship, well, you must have an approved receiver on the other end. They must have an import license and you must have an export license. If the paper work doesn’t match up? Disaster. The shipment can be rejected, and this isn’t like sending back a box of sneakers. That frozen semen only can last so long in a vapor shipper. Tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars can be tied up in one shipment. Logistics and expertise matter.
Once the semen is through Customs and ready for distribution, well, there are so many details that it is hard to place them in this article! But, you better have good distribution and product controls. Your 20 doses of semen can end up breeding just three mares with bad controls or 50 mares through theft. You can roll your eyes at me. I’ve seen it all.
QHN: Do you typically have to have an authorized agent, such as a breeding facility, within Australia or any other Southern hemisphere country? If so, what services does that agent provide for SDP and for your customers in the country they are located?
Plummer: You do not have to. You are welcome to do it all yourself if you have a receiving agent on the other end. You won’t want to do that, not unless you are a little crazy. SDP does have all of this sorted out and it is proven to work for us. But I’m by no means the only player in the field.
Over and above what I’ve previously commented on, accurate reporting, checks and balances, revenue distributions – all of these details matter to keep things moving season after season and ensure you can meet your customer’s needs.
QHN: Are there any government permits/health certificates or other approvals required to ship semen to countries in the Southern hemisphere? Are there any tests or quarantine periods required prior to collecting the stallions if you are going to send their semen to the Southern hemisphere?
Plummer: Yes, there are many. They change, too. So if I listed them all now, they might change by the time you decide to do this. It is best to check in country directly, then cross reference that with the USDA. It has to match on both sides or you are a no go. As Ronald Regan said, “Trust but verify.”
QHN: How much does it cost and how much time does it take to get a stallion set up to ship to the Southern hemisphere? Are there any annual costs stallion owners should consider?
Plummer: Initial costs are the highest, because you are building up an inventory. It is not one-size-fits-all – some stallions can freeze ten doses per ejaculate and others one or even none. Commercial standards are a minimum of 30% progressive post-thaw motility. If it dips below that, you are in sub-fertile territory by definition. Now having said this, I have experience with pregnancies through 1% progressive sperm and no pregnancies with 30%+ on others. I have learned, motility does not mean fertility. It is absolutely important and an indicator, but you’d be surprised at a lot of stuff in equine reproduction.
So, initial costs of building up a stockpile of inventory is the most costly, budget $2,500 – $10,000 depending on market demand. Testing, between $800-$1,500 depending on country. Shipping and export, if you are going it alone, it will cost about $2,000 – $3,000 for permits, flight, importation and duties. If there are multiple stallions in that shipment, it can be prorated to help all. Sort of like hauling horses. There will always be storage fees, no matter where it is stored. But that is pretty nominal and generally isn’t a concern. If you can sell breedings, storage fees aren’t an issue.