"BREED UP" EXPLAINED
This incredible heritage breed suffers from critically low, genetically limited numbers globally, so the goals of the EBRA are twofold; preserve the breed standard while growing genetically diverse herd numbers. Part of that initiative is offering a Breed Up Program, where the EBRA evaluates European Brabant Stock Studbook offspring from non-Brabant, or percentage-Brabant, broodmares and imported, or high-percentage, stallions for inclusion in the European Brabant Studbook. In doing so, breeders may take those 50% offspring and “Breed Up” to the EBRA purebred standard of >93.75%. They must be at least >24 months old and pass the Breed Standards Evaluation to be recognized as purebred.
The European Brabant Registry of America is structured with two primary studbooks, European Brabant and European Brabant Stock. Horses in the European Brabant studbook have 93.75%-100% European Brabant bloodlines and are the foundation of our breeding programs; the breed that we want to preserve and promote. In addition to these foundation horses, the European Brabant Stock studbook tracks horses with a minimum 47% European Brabant bloodlines.
While the mission of the European Brabant Registry of America is to preserve and promote the purebred European Brabant horse, it is important to recognize the limited number of imported and high-percentage horses currently residing in America and the challenges that presents. Rare, limited population breeds such as the European Brabant often struggle with inbreeding and narrow genetic diversity. This is a problem often seen in many European-based studbooks where horses are related to far few popular lines. This issue is further compounded when small numbers of horses are imported and used to found new breeding programs in America.
EBRA guidelines are in place, which require European Brabant Stock mares be bred-up to stallions >75% European Brabant heritage. As such, the average percentage of European Brabant blood in the horses should increase through the generations. In the future, as the availability of European Brabant stallions grows, the threshold for mating requirements may be increased.
The concept of breeding quality, qualified outside blood to foundation stock is not a new idea. In fact, breeding up is a common practice in low-population horse and livestock heritage breeds around the world. Globally, the threshold for being considered a purebred animal is set to either 7/8 (87.5%) or 15/16 (93.75%). The European Brabant Registry of America has opted for the higher standard and accepts these 15/16 animals as 93.75% European Brabant purebred horses. The offspring of 93.75% European Brabant stallions to grade (0%) grade draft broodmares results in the minimum percentage threshold of 47% offspring that may be accepted into the European Brabant Stock studbook.
Maintaining the high standard of European Brabant horses is an important part of the Breed Up Program. Horses are subjected to careful Breed Standard Evaluations throughout the process. Breed Up candidates are required to pass an evaluation by an independent Evaluation Committee comprised of industry experts and livestock judging coaches from Collegiate programs. During the evaluation, horses are scored against overall breed type, soundness, movement and color. Those with overt deviations from breed standards including color patterns and structural defects results in automatic disapproval. In addition to the evaluation, a full color panel test is required to ensure that no hidden recessive colorations enter the purebred European Brabant gene pool.
The Breed Up Program is not a quick process; it requires commitment from breeders. If someone starts with a grade (0%) draft broodmare and breeds her to a 100% stallion, the resulting offspring will be a 50% European Brabant Stock horse. Assuming the breeder chooses to always breed up to a 100% European Brabant stallion, the second cross will produce a 75% European Brabant Stock foal and the third cross will result in an 88% European Brabant Stock foal. Finally after five generations of breeding, which could take 13 years or more, the fourth cross will be eligible for the purebred European Brabant Studbook as a 94% horse. Talk about an investment in the breed and the process. Ultimately, the goal of the European Brabant Registry of America is to maintain high quality European Brabant horses, while also diversifying bloodlines and allowing ways for those who have excellent outside draft stock to Breed Up through the generations to produce genetically diverse, quality European Brabant horses. Their heritage is our legacy.