BELGIUM (by Jo de Roo) Selling horses by auction is not a new initiative. Nowadays, however, new types of auctions are being organized: online. This year in Belgium and the Netherlands several online auctions have been conducted. We are talking about innovators such as Stable Ceulemans (in co-operation with the famous Troostwijk), Studbook Zangersheide, etc. Valentijn De Brabander has taken this initiative one step further by selling exclusive embryos.
Each day around 350 people are visiting his website, and until now he has sold six embryos online to buyers from Belgium, the Netherlands and France. In discussing the technique of embryo transplantation, Valentijn’s father, Joris, blends a great reputation with rich experience.
Q How did you get the idea to start an online auction of embryos?
My father advised me to do this. I wanted to start my own business. Once by surfing on the website of Troostwijk I saw an online auction. In January this year I got it into my head to make a link be- tween the embryos and an online auction. I thought this could be the perfect match. Two weeks later I had bad feelings because I discovered that Troostwijk was organising an online auction of Ceulemans horses, but there was a difference; they were selling living horses and foals and I wanted to sell embryos. Of course, the sire and dam of each embryo are known. Thanks to our website we can show the pedigree, pictures, movies, so people from all over the world can bid. Actually I reach especially people from Belgium, the Netherlands and France. It’s not that evident to reach people from the United States and Brazil. Above all things, Belgians have confidence in the embryo story.
Q In which sense is your auction different from traditional auctions?
By selling embryos I’m selling hope. Meanwhile it’s very objective. At a traditional foal auction, each interested buyer can see the foal’s conformation, its movements and so on. An embryo, however, can be compared with a blank sheet of paper. We are talking about genetics. It’s another kind of market. But there are more differences. The pedigrees of the embryos I sell are really top of the bill, and in 90 percent of the cases better than the pedigrees of foals sold via traditional auctions. Generally speaking, selling a living foal is more difficult because of the relationship between the breeder and his foal. Breed- ers are quite willing to sell embryos...