Grading-up is the process of building towards a pedigree herd by mating pedigree stallions with non pedigree mares, and subsequently mating each generation of females with further pedigree stallions of the same breed, thus increasing the percentage of pedigree ‘blood’ with each generation.
The initial females are usually referred to as Foundation Mares (or Type 1 Mares).
Grading-up is a recognized method across all species in domestic animal husbandry and is used in tiny populations to increase total numbers and minimize in-breeding.
The Australian Suffolk Punch Grading-up Registry
The ASPGUR was the vision of Marge and Dennis Candy of the then Draught Horse Centre, Inverell, NSW, with friend Bill Goddard after the import of Samford Jack 8850 from the UK and Calcott Virgo 28387 from New Zealand forming the first Suffolk Punch stud in almost sixty years. Realizing that with the tiny foundation stud, building numbers of pure Suffolks would take decades, they instituted the grading-up programme in 1997. Their prescience was justified: since the dispersal of the Candy’s Capleach Suffolk Stud in 2008, sadly, pure Suffolk numbers in Australia and New Zealand have fallen. This is in comparison to 55 horses in the Grading-up Registry, with another eight due Spring 2014.
As at the beginning of the Suffolk Horse in Australia, the Grading-up programme is contributing to the Australian Draught to gain the outstanding Suffolk qualities both as horses and under Australian conditions. Suffolks have always been easy care, with the ability to work longer and harder and thrive on poorer quality feed, vital in drought ravaged country. Their whole coloured coats with minimum white helps minimize skin cancers.
Two of the Type 3 colts are now standing at stud.
Many owners have noticed a highly significant indicator – increased foal viability and strength due to hybrid vigour.