ET or ICSI, how much does it cost? Hans Hurkmans provides insight (part 1)

Hans Hurkmans
Hans Hurkmans

What are the costs of an embryo transplantation, ICSI and a surrogate mare? These are questions often received via social media by Wendy Scholten, the driving force behind the auction platform Horse Auctions Europe. We give a summary here below, but we have more questions for breeding specialist Hans Hurkmans. We will keep those for parts 2 and 3 on 15 August and 1 September.


Hans Hurkmans from Milheeze, the Netherlands, is specialized in embryo transplantation and ICSI in horses and cows. His company also takes care of the storage and dispatch of embryos.


1. When will a breeder choose embryo transplantation and when ICSI?

‘’Embryo transplantation is interesting when you have a valuable mare and you want more than one product from her in one year. When a mare is active in the sport, ET can also be a good choice. The mare does not have to carry the foal herself but you can still use the breeding value of the mare. You can use ICSI, for example, for older mares that have already proven themselves in the sport, that can not get in foal anymore and for which flushing is difficult. ICSI is also used when the sperm is scarce. You can still use proven, but already deceased stallions such as Heartbreaker and Chacco Blue.”


3. Over the past few years embryo transplantation and ICSI have boomed in horse breeding. What is your experience?

‘’Our turnover of ET and especially ICSI has gone up with 50 to 60%. We have to work real hard to meet the demand. You see that more and more people go for ICSI instead of flushing, because only one treatment can produce two or three embryos. To get that same result you would have to flush several times. Our main client circle are people with a showjumping mare that left the sport or is very interesting breeding-technically (70%). Then there are the Arabians and Quarter horses (15%), followed by dressage mares (15%).”


4. What should a breeder realize before using ET or ICSI?

“That those two methods are far more costly than a normal service. They should determine if it is worth the investment or whether they want to make a profit from it. When you sell one or two foals, you can earn your costs back and you get your other foals for free. In the case of ET you need an average of three flushings to get one foal, for it does not always work the first time. Then there are the costs of the host-mare. ICSI is more expensive, but then you want to create more embryo’s to have a better chance of at least one embryo growing into a foal.’’ 


5. What are the average costs – besides the studfee - of ET? 

- One flushing: 250 euro (in average 2 till 3 flushings to get 1 foal)

- Veterinary costs & transplantation: 300 euro

- Lease of a surrogate mare: 2,500 to 3,000 euro

In total 3,050 to 3,550 euro per foal *


6. What are the costs of ICSI?

- Winning and direct transplantation of two embryos: 2.000 euro

-       Extra costs for 2 frozen embryos and transplantation: 1.300 euro

-       Lease of two host-mares: 5,000 – 6,000 euro

-       In total 7,000 euro to 9,000 euro per two foals *

         (in average 3,500 tot 4,500 euro per foal)


*Note well: take into consideration that not all embryos will be accepted by a surrogate mare, which makes that you may have incurred expenses yet you get no foal. The lease of a surrogate mare starts from 45 days of gestation to 4-5 months after the foal is born. The costs can be increased by a guarantee. The guarantee will be paid back after the surrogate mare returns after weaning the foal. 


Are all mares suitable to function as host-mare? And are there mares for which you would not recommend ICSI? In part 2 of this series we will continue our interview with Hans Hurkmans.


More information about Hans Hurkmans