Artificial Insemination is the process of placing sperm in the reproductive tract of a mare. This process can be carried out using fresh, cooled (chilled) or frozen semen from a stallion.
The Artificial Advantage
There are some advantages to AI breeding
* Mare and stallion never come in contact. AI provides a safer environment for the mare, the stallion and the personnel.
* Breeding can be conducted internationally using frozen semen.
* Stallions can breed more mares artificially than they can in a live cover program.
* AI reduces the chances of disease transmission of both venereal and non-venereal diseases.
* The breeding season would not interrupt the schedule of a stallion that is in work or competing.
* Semen may be frozen for use after a stallion’s death.
* Semen may be frozen prior to castration, and therefore be available for use from a high profile gelding that is performing well.
* Allows us to obtain genetics or bloodlines from a rare breed.
* Allows us to improve a particular trait in a breed (this can be done rather quickly in an AI program).
* Provides us with the ability to add antibiotics and extenders to effectively improve the quality of the semen.
This is the process by which a Veterinarian or breeding manager seeks to determine and time the mares exact ovulation. It is critical that the mare ovulates in conjunction with the insemination. Frozen semen requires more precise timing than fresh or chilled. Insemination is done within 2-6 hours of ovulation to ensure the best results. Because of this mares bred with frozen semen are examined on strict schedules which increases the costs of breeding with frozen semen. Often times medications are used to help target ovulation to improve chances of conception. Some mares are refractory to these medications. These mares require experienced veterinarians to ensure optimal timing of insemination is performed and pregnancies are obtained.
Frozen versus Fresh or Chilled Semen
Sometimes only frozen semen will be available from a given stallion. If given the choice, fresh and chilled semen tend to both provide a higher viable sperm count and improved pregnancy rates than using frozen semen. As stated above, it is critical the Veterinarian closely monitor the mare’s cycle when breeding with frozen semen.
Fresh semen undergoes minimal or no processing and always has the highest fertility. However, as it can’t be transported and must be used almost immediately, mares and stallions need to be at the same location for insemination. Cooled semen is prepared and packaged for use in 24-72 hours after collection. Therefore, it can be shipped for overnight delivery to the mare owner.
The delivery of the semen may cause some difficulties for the mare owner. Cooled semen is most often sent by overnight delivery using Fed-Ex or UPS. Delivery on Sunday, Monday and Holidays can prove challenging. Sometimes cooled semen will have to be flown in by plane using a courier service, this can increase the price. Frozen semen can be shipped in and stored in our tanks until needed, which eliminates most delivery difficulties that can arise when using fresh cooled semen. Frozen semen can also be stored for use later that year or subsequent years.
Most stallions have set breeding seasons, (a specific start and stop date that the stallion owner will collect and ship the semen). This needs to be considered when preparing the mares. Stallions can have exclusion dates during the breeding season. These will need to be identified before the mare is prepared for breeding. Stallion managers often set schedules for collection of the stallion. These are not modified for the mare, therefore your mare will need to be adjusted to “fit” the stallions semen availability.
Horses traditionally have the lowest reproductive efficiency of all species of domestic livestock. Artificial Insemination with cooled or frozen semen generally has a lower success rate than natural covering. It is important to choose the right stallion AND to choose the best method for breeding your mare. The chances of success can be improved significantly by using good quality semen, an experienced Veterinarian and starting with a fertile mare. With the right combination, pregnancy rates can be as good as a live cover breeding.
– Click here for the link to Normal Foaling Events
– Click here for the Mare Foaling Date Calculator, simply put in the ovulation date of your mare and find out her due date along with scheduled vaccinations and checkups!
– Click here for the link to Foal Vaccination Date Calculator, simply put in the date your foal was born and find out when vaccinations are due!
We are always available for a consultation.
If you have any questions and would like to speak with a Veterinarian, please call us at 803-641-0644