Breeding Your Mare


These three new babies are just the most precious and pretty things I've seen since my girl was born. Scotch is some kind of horse. I don't think I've ever seen an ugly foal by him. I'm very glad I have a filly by him, she has the kindest temperament I could have asked for. Tell the "Old Man" to keep up the good work. - Peggy Esquibel


Breeding your mare to one of our stallions can happen two different ways:

    1. "Long-distance breeding," using transported cooled semen, and your mare stays where she is

      Click here for an explanation of Long-distance breeding using transported cooled semen

      Click here to see (and print) the Breeding Contract for Shipped Semen

    2. "On-site," which means boarding your mare at our facilities.

      Click here for an explanation of On-site, which means boarding your mare at our facilities.

      Click here to see (and print) the Breeding Contract for On-Site


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Long-distance breeding

Effective January 1st, 1997 the American Quarter Horse Association recognized registration applications on mares bred artificially with transported cooled semen. Mare owners now have the option of keeping their mares at home and having the semen shipped to them.

Successful "long-distance breeding" with cooled semen depends on a good working relationship between the breeder, the mare owner, and the veterinarians. Stallion and mare management, semen handling, and correct timing for insemination are our priorities. The following recommendations should help maximize fertility.

Stallion Breeder's Role

The best results will be achieved when the collections and processing is performed at 37 degrees Celsius. The semen is mixed with extender, sealed, and placed in a shipping container which slowly cools the semen to 5 degrees Celsius to avoid damage to the sperm cell membrane. The container holds the temperature for 36 hours which gives  a little more latitude for breeding; but since sperm starts to break down after 24 hours, immediate insemination is preferred for ideal consequences.

Our customers are assured of receiving a quality-controlled product. The semen has been analyzed and tested and is free from infectious and contagious disease. Our sperm count, motility, collection and packaging procedures meet or exceed industry standards.

The Process

The process begins when the raw semen is poured into a sterile cup. The volume is recorded and the sperm analyzed to determine the number of viable cells per milliliter of fluid. The semen is mixed with an extender that has previously been tested and found compatible with that particular stallion's chemical makeup.

Extender performs several functions, most notably that of counteracting the effects of the stallion's own seminal fluid. The seminal fluid that carries the sperm cells during ejaculation can kill them unless diluted by extender. If the sperm cell count is high enough, dilution allows the stallion manager to "split" an ejaculate into several portions for shipment. Extender also provides nutrients to the sperm cells, ensuring they remain motile for as long as possible during storage and transport. Antibiotics can be added to the extender to destroy the bacteria present in the semen from live breeding. The breeding manager who conscientiously monitors his stallions should be able to offer mare owners an accurate and verifiable report on the quality of each stallion's semen.

Once the semen has been processed at the correct temperature, it is quickly packaged and placed in a shipping container that is designed to provide the optimum cooling curve for semen. Over the course of the next 10 hours, the semen is cooled from 37 degrees Centigrade to 5 degrees Centigrade (42 degrees Fahrenheit). Cooling at any other rate can negatively affect the viability of the semen.

Our Stallion Service Contract includes two (2) separate shipments of cooled semen. The national average for the number of shipments to successfully inseminate a mare is 1.8, so we have provided for more than adequate coverage if it is needed.

Additional shipments of semen can be provided thereafter, if necessary, for a predetermined amount as listed on your breeding contract, plus shipping. Studies indicate that the average stallion's semen experiences a 50% death loss during shipment, so we have doubled the number of motile sperm required for on-farm artificial insemination.

The stallion has been blood-typed prior to collection and his semen has been rigorously tested and analyzed to ensure that you receive a quality product that is free from disease and has a high motile sperm count, even after it has been cooled.

Broodmare Management

The stallion breeder can package and send top quality semen, but the success of the endeavor relies on the expertise of the mare owner's veterinarian, and ultimately on the mare. The mare owner who does not have his or her animal thoroughly checked for reproductive disorders prior to breeding, or who does not expend the effort to chart the mare's heat cycles, may be unwittingly sabotaging the breeding process. If the veterinarian misses the ovulation estimate, or the mare's biological clock misses a tick and she doesn't co-operate, the mare may not get in foal. Clinical research involving 55 mares showed that the 1st cycle conception rate was 65%, but that two breedings produced a 91% conception rate (which is why we include 2 initial breedings in our contract).

A qualified veterinarian should be consulted to assess the mare's fertility status. Particular attention should be paid to the mare's reproductive history. If the mare is barren and has had any history of uterine infection or dystocia, a thorough breeding soundness exam -- including uterine culture and biopsy -- should be performed. Only reproductively sound mares should be considered in a breeding program utilizing transported cooled semen.

If you plan to breed the mare earlier than March, April or May, when heat cycles occur naturally, we recommend artificial lighting for 14 to 16 hours a day (a 200 watt bulb or equivalent) to simulate summer breeding conditions. Artificial lighting has also been proven successful with pregnant mares and appears to increase the chances of foal-heat conception.

Veterinarians who must rely on observation of an unteased mare are at a disadvantage in determining the optimum time to breed. Tease your mare frequently until she shows signs of heat and then ask your veterinarian to ultrasound the mare every other day and record the findings to accurately track the progression of the cycle. The ultrasound machine is a wonderful tool that takes the guess-work out of breeding. The veterinarian can measure the size of the follicle(s) and determine over the next 5 to 7 days whether the mare is having a "normal" heat cycle where follicles will steadily grow a little more each day. A follicle that "sticks" on one size for several days can be an indication that the mare is still partially in winter anestrus and is not having optimum cycles for insemination. Keep good records of each ultrasound or palpation to see if the mare's follicles are growing and developing daily to determine whether she is having a "normal" cycle.

Mares can have completely different cycles from year to year. Don't assume that she will breed easily this year just because she has in the past. Reproductive systems change with age. Since the stallion breeder's role is limited to providing a timely shipment of viable equine sperm, the mare owner and his or her veterinarian must assume the major responsibility of preparing the mare for breeding.

 

Timing of Insemination

Our mutual goal should be to use one insemination dose per cycle within 12 hours of ovulation in order to achieve high conception rates while conserving semen. 

In order to breed during the most optimal period of time, the mare must be teased daily until she comes into heat. The veterinarian should then check the mare daily until a 35mm follicle is palpated. It is then recommended that the veterinarian ultrasound and/or palpate the mare frequently until the follicle becomes very soft and fluctuant. Some breeders check 2 or 3 times a day. At that time many breeding specialists recommend using human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) at a rate of 3,000 IM to induce ovulation.

Mares with mature follicles generally ovulate within 24 to 36 hours of HCG administration. The veterinarian should continue to palpate frequently after HCG and inseminate just prior to ovulation. Again, at this point, many top breeders ultrasound and/or palpate 2 or 3 times a day for optimum results.

When the sperm shipment arrives, DO NOT OPEN the container until your vet is there and prepared to inseminate you mare. Prior to insemination the mare should be adequately readied to facilitate the process. This includes emptying the rectum of the mare via rectal palpation, wrapping the tail, and cleansing the perineal region with surgical scrub.

The vet will normally ultrasound or palpate the mare and then inseminate.

The mare must be ultra-sounded at 14 to 16 days following breeding, and again at 21 days to rule out twinning if the vet has ultra sounded multiple follicles and false pregnancy, as some mares will continue to show heat even when they are pregnant. Pregnancy should then be reconfirmed via palpation at 30 to 45 days and once more during the latter part of October so the breeder can include her on the annual stallion breeding report.

We recommend using a skilled credentialed equine reproduction specialist who is familiar with the procedure for optimum results. Licensed veterinary assistance is a requirement for registration of the resultant foal. We strongly recommend blood typing and/or DNA testing on  all mares prior to foaling; the AQHA requires parentage verification for all foals born to mares foaled January 1, 1995 or later.

Summary

The benefits of "long-distance breeding" to the mare and stallion owner are numerous. The mare owner has a safe and comfortable environment to breed his mare in and the stallion owner opens up markets that were unavailable before. We hope this brief article has answered many of your questions, but please feel free to contact us if we can be of additional assistance. We feel that an educated customer is one we'll have for life.


Click here to see (and print) the Breeding Contract for Shipped Semen

or back to the top of the page

or continue to On-site breeding

or return to HorseBreakers' Home Page


On-site breeding

You can bring or ship your mare to us here at HorseBreakers Unlimited and we will take care of every aspect of her insemination. The cost is $15 a day, wet or dry, plus stud fees, veterinarian expenses, etc. We will handle the complete process -- including teasing your mare and veterinarian care with palpation, ultrasound, pregnancy checks, etc. as needed.

Before we see your mare

A qualified veterinarian should be consulted to assess the mare's fertility status. Particular attention should be paid to the mare's reproductive history. If the mare is barren and has had any history of uterine infection or dystocia, a thorough breeding soundness exam -- including uterine culture and biopsy -- should be performed.

Mares can have completely different cycles from year to year. Don't assume that she will breed easily this year just because she has in the past. Reproductive systems change with age.

What we do

First, we will tease your mare until she shows signs of heat and then inseminate every other day until she is out of heat.

When the time is right, the mare is inseminated with a highly quality-controlled product. The semen has been analyzed and tested and is free from infectious and contagious disease. The stallion has been blood-typed prior to collection and his semen has been rigorously tested and analyzed to ensure that you receive a quality product that is free from disease and has a high motile sperm count.

The Insemination

When you bring or ship you mare to us, artificial insemination will be done with fresh semen. AI (Artificial Insemination) has a much higher rate of conception; it is safer for both the mare and stallion; and it eliminates the transmission of venereal diseases.

The mare will be ultra sounded at 14 to 16 days following breeding to check for a viable pregnancy and to rule out twinning. Pregnancy should then be reconfirmed by you and your vet via palpation at 30 to 45 days and once more during the latter part of October so we can include her on the annual stallion breeding report.

How long does the mare stay?

There's no definite answer to that question, for it depends a lot on the mare and how well and easily the process goes. The minimum, of course, is one complete heat cycle. However, we prefer to keep the mare here until she is ultra sounded in foal fourteen (14) days past breeding.


Click here to see (and print) the Breeding Contract for On-Site

or back to the top of the page

or go to Long-distance breeding

or return to HorseBreakers' Home Page


For more information, email us at: info@horsebreakers.com

or write:  Jon and Marywade Gilbert
P.O. Box 687, Dewey, AZ  86327
Phone: 928-632-5728 Fax: 928-632-5094