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Quality Feed Crucial to Stud Performance

Words by Luisa Wood


Farmlands-owned feed brand NRM has been a leading manufacturer of equine breeding feeds for many years. Find out how it has played a part in the success of one of New Zealand’s best stud farms: Nevele R Stud.


NRM pride themselves on producing high quality breeding feeds to support optimum health in broodmares, breeding stallions and growth in young horses. Designed in conjunction with their technical partners, Kentucky Equine Research, all NRM feeds have the latest research to support their formulations and are constantly evolving to remain relevant to consistently supply optimum nutrition.


Started by Wayne Francis and Bob McArdle around 30 years ago, and named after their first stallion Nevele Romeo, Nevele R Stud is a highly established Standardbred stud in Canterbury. Previously 1,000 acres, Nevele R is now separated across three different properties including the main 500 acre property in Springs Rd, Prebbleton.


With a successful history, Nevele R began by importing sought-after stallions and mares from the USA to start their breeding herd. The stud has previously stood eleven stallions and accommodated for up to 500 horses at a time, from broodmares to young stock and spelling racehorses. In the last breeding season they bred over 300 mares, including clients’ and up to 50 of their own.


The stud works in conjunction with the racing stable Spreydon Lodge, who train any young stock not sold at the annual yearling sales. As a highly commercial operation, the goal is to keep the current mare band updated and commercially viable. Decisions on breeding crosses for the in house mares and around which yearlings are kept or sold are carefully made by General Manager Ged Mooar.


The best colts on type and breeding are sold at sale and the lower quality colts are broken in and sold as race horses. Most fillies are kept to race at Spreydon also, but then return to the broodmare herd upon retiring. This strategy ensures the mare herd is constantly evolving and being refined by selecting specifically for racing performance.


Stallions are also a significant part of stud life, with Marcoola currently the only one in residence. Stallions often shuttle between northern and southern hemisphere breeding seasons and the ever popular Lazarus and possibly Creatine will be returning this year. Standardbred breeding also allows frozen semen to be used, which opens up access to stallions worldwide. As well as live services, frozen semen is collected from the Nevele R stallions regularly.



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NRM Stud Groom of the Year began in 2019 as a way to showcase NRM’s commitment to the NZ breeding industry. The aim of the award is to promote excellence through supporting passionate young people in their careers and preserve young talent in this field. The successful applicant of the 2020 NRM Stud Groom of the Year Award was Anna Murphy from Nevele R Stud.


Stud manager Anna Murphy recalls the days when there were eleven stallions at the stud, which made 4.30am feedings before services a significant task. Anna is in her fifteenth season with Nevele R, and third season as stud manager. From breeding, to yearling preparation, to foaling down sometimes over 200 mares a year, it is a highly demanding role year round.


Being with Nevele R for so long has meant Anna has also seen the evolution of the stud’s relationship with Farmlands and NRM. From getting great results with NRM Assett for yearling preparation to now using Evolve as the main feed for all horses, NRM has always been a feature in the feed room. As well as highly fertilised pasture and baleage from the property, last winter all horses remained on a low feeding rate of 2kg Evolve and maintained condition beautifully.  


The added buffered mineral complex (BMCTM) from Kentucky Equine Research is also highly beneficial for ensuring optimum bone density in the young stock, and last year’s group of sales yearlings were also prepared mainly on an Evolve diet also.


Being extremely passionate about horses, breeding, correct management practices and developing younger staff in the industry made Anna a frontrunner for winning the NRM Stud Groom of the Year Award in 2020. This was only the second year this was awarded with the 2019 winner Rebecca Sargeant currently having significant success with a career in the racing industry in Australia.


Run in conjunction with NRM’s technical partners Kentucky Equine Research, the winner of the NRM Stud Groom of the Year receives an all-expenses paid trip to Australia to spend time with leading nutritionists at KER and accompany them to farms, bloodstock sales and training tracks throughout Victoria. With Covid impacting her original travel plans, Anna has recently returned from this trip two years after she won it.


Describing the trip as “information overload but in the best way”, Anna is still buzzing from the experience and said the team at KER were extremely accommodating. As well as attending the Thoroughbred yearling sales in Melbourne, which is a much larger scale than New Zealand yearling sales, Anna got the opportunity to discuss all aspects of stud management and exchange ideas with leading Thoroughbred and Standardbred managers throughout Victoria.


The Stud Groom of the Year Award also enables Anna to continue to develop and learn through maintaining the relationship with KER nutritionists and consistently receiving relevant information and research in future. Given Anna has goals of obtaining land and starting her own breeding operation, this relationship will be invaluable.


By focusing on nurturing and supporting young people, the Stud Groom of the Year award is a key to encouraging more careers in the stud industry. Anna recognises there is a lack of young people in the industry and an award such as Stud Groom of the Year is an amazing incentive to encourage passionate youths in their career paths, therefore sustaining the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industry and the calibre of people within it.