Spring is the natural breeding season of the mare. However, if you are serious about producing a healthy, good quality foal then there is lot more to think about than simply turning your mare loose in a field with a few stallions.
Serious equine breeders will tell you that there are a variety of different factors to take into consideration when it comes to spring breeding. One of the first is whether you intend on breeding her naturally or using artificial insemination. Depending on your choice of breeding style you may be able to keep your mare at her current location or you may need to send her away to the stallion or to a breeding farm.
In order to produce the best possible offspring, you will need to choose your mare’s reproductive partner carefully. This involves assessing his reproductive history (if he has any), proven fertility levels and whether the owner studs him out or provides semen for artificial insemination.
Once you have chosen your preferred stallion, it is also essential that you understand the breeding contract that you are entering into with the owner. This will provide you with important information regarding your arrangement such as when the stallion is available for breeding (natural breeding) or in the case of artificial insemination:
Whether sperm is provided cool (fresh) or frozen
The number of breedings you get in a season for cooled semen
The number of doses of sperm you will receive for frozen semen
How the sperm will be transported to you and how quickly it can be provided
You will also need to discuss the stud fees and when these will be payable. Some stallion owners or breeding farm operators offer guarantees of quality of semen or resulting pregnancies, and this will also need to be taken into consideration.
Just like humans, mares must have a normal and healthy reproductive tract and an efficient estrous cycle. If this is not the case, then breeding is unlikely to be successful or, if it is, the quality of the foal may be impaired.
Fertility of female horses declines with age, and as such it is recommended that mares over the age of 10 who have not previously reproduced are disregarded for breeding. If you choose a mare that has had previous pregnancies, her prior reproductive history will need to be taken into consideration. Some of the tests that you can expect your equine vet to give your mare ahead of breeding include:
A clinical examination
A vulvar exam
A vaginal exam
A rectal exam and ultrasound
Blood tests and vaccinations to ensure the health of your mare
This is an important process so that you can ensure that the mare that you wish to breed with is a good candidate for the process. It is a standard procedure recommended as part of the pre-breeding checks your vet will carry out.
Culturing your mare involves taking samples from the uterus to identify if your mare has any underlying infections or inflammation. If bacterial, fungal or yeast infections are present, these will show in the cultures. Inflammation can significantly inhibit the ability of a mare to conceive while infections would need to be treated with antibiotics and other therapies before conception can even be considered.
Since your mare cannot tell you if she has successfully become pregnant, you will need to arrange for your equine vet to give her an ultrasound to check for the presence of embryos. While it is possible to detect pregnancy fairly earlier, experts recommend that you wait until around 18 days post-conception to perform an ultrasound on your mare to obtain the most accurate result. Once pregnancy has been confirmed, you will need to arrange an additional ultrasound between days 28-30 and days 42-45 to check for a heartbeat and to assess the viability of the unborn foal. If you are keen to know the sex of the fetus, this can usually be detected by ultrasound around 70 days post-conception.
Duration of pregnancy can vary slightly, with most experiencing a gestation period of between 320 and 342 days. However, it is not unheard of for pregnancies to last considerably longer. The exact gestation period of your mare can depend on various factors including breeds, age, nutrition, sex of the foal and previous pregnancy history.
Your veterinarian in Bowling Green is an equine vet experienced in many aspects of horse breeding. Don’t hesitate to contact Snodgrass Veterinary Medical Center for assistance with equine spring breeding. Call us today at 2702079250. We look forward to hearing from you!