The MSB Blog: Breeding Plans
One of the most impactful things you should focus on as a breeder is your breeding plan. As the saying goes... if you don't plan to win, plan to lose. Randomly buying a bunch of snakes and haphazardly pairing them is definitely not the approach you want to take. In this post I will share my breeding plan template and the process I have used successfully over the past 20+ years.
I utilize a simple excel spreadsheet to map out and plan my breedings. A copy of the plan I use is attached below.
As you can see I have 6 columns with the first being the male column. I usually breed my males to 1-5 females each season. I typically use well established males that are at least 1 year old. I will rarely use a male that's under 12 months of age, but when I do I will only breed him to one female. You do not want to push your males too hard, especially young males. Over stressing a male is a good way to lose him. I always include the females ID# in the spreadsheet because when I'm pairing animals, all I have to do when I want to pair a female is hit ctrl find, type in the ID# and I will quickly see which male the female is assigned to. I can quickly grab the male and throw him in with the assigned female. This is especially helpful if you have a larger collection. This process also eliminates mistakes, saves time and helps me to stay on track with my breeding plan.
As far as planning goes, I usually spend a lot of hours working on my plan each year. You can study your plan for months before something jumps out at you. Some of my best projects came about this way so it's important to revisit your plan often. For instance, my plan is already established for the 2022/2023 season, but I will certainly review it and maybe tweak it between now and then. So I like having the primary blue print established and I love reviewing it occasionally. I use my entire inventory to start planning and once I'm satisfied any remaining animals that don't fit into my future plan are sold. Breeder males and females usually sell pretty fast and this is a great way to generate extra coin while remaining lean. It's always good to have more animals/genes to plan with because you can really get creative come up with great pairing ideas. My goal is to stay small, maintain a healthy balance as far as my collection size goes, but pack a punch with what I produce. My goal is to produce 75 clutches annually with an average value of $50k/clutch. How bad ass would that be!?! Can you imagine my holdbacks!!! When planning I try to achieve the following goals in what I produce... diversity of genetics, creative new combos and a limited batch of each product. I try to keep projects exclusive and rare.
Choosing the right projects to pursue is a very important part of your plan obviously. Many of these projects may take years to achieve and will take up valuable space in your facility. You do not want to pop out a hard to make dud! The goal is to produce a jaw dropping gem that is very difficult to make. These animals may not only command a hefty price, but they can put you on the map and generate a lot of positive publicity for your brand. You don't have to sell a snake to profit from it. The notoriety achieved from an amazing combo can help you sell your basic inventory and give you the credibility needed to play in the big leagues. How do you put a price tag on such an animal? Once you hit these gems, post the hell out of it. Don't be that breeder that hides the combo because they don't want other breeders to see it and try to make it. I'm willing to bet at least a few breeders are already working on it anyway. This is a scarcity mindset that will hurt you in the long run. If you hide these gems, you are not realizing all the benefits of actually producing or owning it. Post, post, post and share, share, share! These animals are like rocket fuel for the hobby. A cool combo can create so much excitement and generate a ton of sales for a bunch of people. This is good for everyone! I'm no genius, but I realized long ago that there's enough room for everyone to succeed in this hobby. I've always been open about my approach and projects. Sharing my knowledge and experience in this post is a perfect example of this. I've been told I'm stupid for doing so (cough Big Gumms) , but I'm hard pressed to see how this has been bad for me.
Okay, so how the hell do you decide on which projects to pursue. I have a hard time explaining how I decide pairings because most of the time its intuitive for me. Some very obvious combos that you can pursue include any double or triple recessive projects. This is like mining for bitcoin. It ain't easy but its lucrative! These are hard to hit combos and as a result they command big bucks and can boost your brand! Use codoms as the seasoning in these recessive stews. A dominant or incomplete dominant gene or two can take a double recessive to the next level. For instance... this Super Orange Dream Enchi Leopard Desert Ghost Pied we hatched in 2021. She's a Ten and holds so much potential!
Some other factors you can consider is adding high contrasting genes with cleaner genes, color genes with cleaner genes, color genes with pattern morphs, etc. If a genes washes out contrast, then maybe it's not wise to combine it with a high contrast gene. The point I'm trying to make is give it some careful thought and consideration. Don't buy a snake unless you have a plan for it. Avoid the spontaneous purchase. In closing I want to say... Don't chase World's first... that's an old milestone that's no longer significant. World's first was a big deal earlier on in the hobby. These days World's first are the norm, not the exception. Your goal should be to produce Jaw Droppers! I hope you guys found this helpful. If you want me to cover any other topics, let me know below. Please share and pass this on!