Clydesdale breeding farm begins to take shape in Cooper County

Friday, September 21, 2007 | 3:13 p.m. CDT; updated 9:52 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The unusual gifts were hand-delivered to Bruce Arnett and his neighbors about a month ago.

The five-pound horseshoes, according to an attached note, were “worn by a member of the Clydesdale team during the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals victory parade held in downtown St. Louis.” The note also described horseshoes as a symbol of good luck.

Horses of a different color

Clydesdales were introduced at Anheuser-Busch in 1933 to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition. August A. Busch Jr. decided to present a hitch, delivering the first case of post-Prohibition beer from the brewery to his father and president of the company, August A. Busch. President Franklin Roosevelt was also delivered a case of beer at the White House. The estimated U.S. population of Clydesdales is between 2,500 and 3,000. Anheuser-Busch maintains the largest Clydesdale herd in the world with 225 to 250 horses. Full-grown Clydesdales stand about 6 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh between 2,000 and 2,300 pounds. Ideal Clydesdales are bay, or reddish-brown, in color with a blaze of white on the horse’s face and have a black mane and black tail. Characteristic of the Budweiser Clydesdales is the white feathering, or long hair, on all four legs and feet. Qualifications for Traveling Clydesdales • Geldings (neutered males) • 4 years old • Bay in color • Four white-stocking feet • Blaze of white on the face • Black mane and tail Hitch Facts • Each harness weighs 130 pounds • 10 Clydesdales travel with the team • Eight Clydesdales are hitched to pull the wagon • Two horses serve as alternates • Wagons are made by Studebaker • Reins for the eight horses can weigh more than 40 pounds Daily Diet • 20 quarts of feed • 40 to 50 pounds of hay • 30 gallons of water Birth and care of young • Sexual maturity is reached at 3 to 4 years old • Gestation period is 11 months • Offspring are called foals • Males foals are called colts • Female foals are called fillies • Most foals are born in early spring • Generally females have one foal per year • At birth, foals average 3.5 feet tall and weigh 125 pounds Longevity • Generally Clydesdales live into their late teens to early twenties • Tooth examination is used to measure the age of a horse

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“It was a nice, benevolent gesture,” Arnett said.

Jim Poole, general manager of the Budweiser Clydesdales, presented the gifts to Arnett, the owner of Peach Tree Farms, and other residents and businesses near the construction site of a Clydesdale breeding facility in Cooper County. The site is located directly across from Arnett’s farm just off Interstate 70 on the west side of the Missouri River.

“They’ve told us what they’re going to do and haven’t left us in the dark,” Arnett said, declining to be more specific.

In September 2006, St. Louis-based brewer Anheuser-Busch purchased 340 acres to develop a Clydesdale breeding facility. The property is situated near Overton on a bluff along the Missouri River across from Rocheport. The land was purchased by Bannon Corp., a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch, from Mark and Danette Robb, Phil Blom and Ralph and Diana Hennerich, according to the Cooper County Recorder of Deeds office.

A year later, construction of the breeding facility appears to be well under way. Workers and equipment are spread across the site, massive piles of fencing and construction materials are visible from the blacktop road, and a fence is beginning to take shape.

“Three to four weeks ago, all of the buildings but the house were torn down,” said Dennis Ficken, owner of Mo River Tire Co. located near the site. “It is my understanding that the house is where the general manager of the facility will reside.”

Construction of a 5-foot-tall, galvanized steel, white powder-coated fence began Sept. 15 and is planned to be completed by mid-October, according to Kenny Brixey, an installer for 440 Fence Co. in Dallas. “We’re putting up a little over 13 miles of fence,” Brixey said.

Anheuser-Busch hasn’t announced an expected completion date or other details, but in late August, Poole said an announcement was tentatively set for the first part of September. Ellen Bogard, communications manager at Anheuser-Busch, said in an e-mail Friday that an announcement with additional details should come in October.

“We see constant traffic,” Arnett said. “There’s just as much traffic with people checking the site out as there is with construction workers.”

Excitement about the facility continues for Cooper County residents, according to Sarah Gallagher, economic development director for nearby Boonville.

“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for the county,” Gallagher said. “Although we are unsure what the future for the facility holds, the fact that they chose Cooper County speaks volumes for potential opportunity.”

The farm would be the third breeding facility for Anheuser-Busch; the company breeds Clydesdales at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis and at a farm about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, near Romoland, Calif.

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Jenn Ballard September 4, 2008 | 11:12 a.m.

Hi, I'm doing a follow up story and any additional information that I could recieve upon this story would be greatly appreciated!!

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