General Breeding Information
Because we get so many breeding questions in general…we have added this to our website, so that people new to breeding have an idea of what to expect. Please understand this guide is meant to be exactly that, a guide! We are not offering advice on any one particular situation, nor are we offering vet advice. If you are uncertain about something, please ASK YOUR VET!
Picking a Stallion: When you are looking at stallions, pick a stallion based on what your mare lacks or needs improvement on. Look at the stallions performance abilities, conformation, disposition and of course overall reputation. The stallion should have tendencies to fix the problem your mare has. If you are shipping semen, ask how the stallion ships and then ask, what the stallion’s mare in foal rate is on the first shipment. Of course the shipping numbers are a good indication of a stallions semen quality, they mean nothing when speaking of fertility! Fertility is measured by the ability to get a mare in foal. (Of course there variables, the knowledge of the person doing the insemination, environmental issues, etc..)
Breeding your mare. Ask yourself a few questions first…Is this mare a prospective brood mare? Is she properly conformed (outside and in?) and is her disposition suitable for her breed and purpose? Can I afford her medical care should something go wrong? Am I prepared to foal out this mare? If you answer “no” to any of the questions, you may want to reconsider.
A good Broodmare. A good mare, needs the obvious. Good temperament, health and disposition and of course, be well conformed according to her breed’s standard. But what about the not so obvious…What about her reproductive “conformation” ? She should be in good flesh and overall healthy. The next thing you should be aware of is her Perineal area. Her vulva lips should not be angled upward toward her anus. This can allow fecal matter to enter the reproductive tract and of course introduce pathogens. The angle being incorrect on the outside can cause the angle to be off on the inside. This can be passed on genetically, so please reconsider breeding this mare! Of course older mares, or mares that have had many foals, are more likely to be more angled, that obviously would not be a genetic cause. A Caslick’s procedure can be performed, however this requires excellent management, and should be performed and supervised by a vet with the necessary experience.
Signs that a mare is coming into heat. (These “signs” are common in a majority of mares, it is not uniform, so please work with a good repro specialist or vet) The average mare cycles every 21 days. A systematic release of various hormones cause the mare to develop a follicle on her ovary. This follicle does not “burst” outward, rather than inward to enter the ovary and be released to the uterus. During this stage (the time when a mare is coming into heat, until she goes out) is called Estrus. During Estrus, the mare is typically receptive to the stallion, via swinging her tail end over to him, lifting her tail and urinating or even “winking” with her vulva lips. These actions do not mean the mare has ovulated! When you see these symptoms, call your vet, he will need to palpate her to see if she has started to form a follicle. From there, he can guide you through the process. If after he has examined the mare you see her urinate and the urine is a deep yellow cloudy looking color and the urine seems thicker…call your vet …there is a very good chance that she needs bred within 12 hours! Please note that you can not tell externally that a mare has ovulated!
The biggest concerns among mare owners is the dreaded “Shipped Semen” and “Artificial Insemination” techniques! Here we explain how shipped semen works, and stallion availability as it pertains to our farm and facility. (Of course these are subject to change)
(Please realize that stallion owners must be strict and hold to their contracts. The average 1000.00 stud fee only yields a profit of $500.00, after all expenses are paid and the average care of the horse is taken into account. Even then, Stallion owners have on average 25,000.00 invested in their stallions in just the purchase price. Please be fair, and expect the same from them.)
Shipped Semen: Shipped semen should be collected the day before the mare owner needs it to arrive. For example, if you need the semen on Wednesday, we need to know Tuesday morning no later than 8:30 am. The semen will be collected that morning and overnighted to your residence or to your vet’s clinic, which ever applies to the situation. When the semen is collected, it is examined, extended then packaged in a disposable semen shipper equipped with a cooling pack. We will ship two doses, to be used ONLY on the mare listed in the contract.
There are no deposits to worry about with the semen shipper. Once the semen arrives, DO NOT OPEN it until the vet is ready to use it. If the box is opened prior to use, we will not be responsible for the quality of the semen. Keep the box in a cool, dry location and out of the sun, until your vet arrives. Our facility retains a semen sample, 90% of the time. If there is a question of semen quality, we will check our retained sample. If our sample is good, so should yours.
Included in the package will be a Semen quality check list, The Cover Certificate. Our facility will perform an evaluation of the semen prior to shipping and will record it on this sheet. Your vet is required to fill this form out and send it back to us within 7 days of insemination. However we realize that even if semen quality is low for any reason, most vet’s suggest to go ahead and inseminate the mare, just in-case. So if your vet feels that there is no need to check the semen, just have your vet write that on the evaluation form, we will accept it.
If your mare does not take, you have the option of re-breeding the same season or the following. Please note, that if you choose to breed the following season, you will be required to enter into a new contract for that season. The Shipping and collection fee is 300.00 unless it falls after our breeding season ends, then we asses a 95.00 fee in addition to the normal Shipping and Collection fees. Please note however, our facility is not open daily after July 15 of the calendar year. Collection will be subject to availability.
If your mare is Penicillin sensitive, let us know.
Monday thru Thursday: We need 24 hours notice. Semen should arrive around noon the following day. (this is subject to area)
Saturday Delivery: (we collect on Friday, for Saturday delivery). We can ship out for Saturday delivery, however, some Fed ex hubs, do not deliver on Saturday. It is your responsibility to determine if your in an area that it is available in. There is an additional 25.00 fee for Saturday Delivery.
Sunday Delivery (collect Saturday for Sunday Delivery) This option is not available. We would need to fly the semen same day. In other words, we would collect Saturday, for the semen to be received on Saturday at an airport. We will attempt to fly the semen to the closest airport in your region, however there must be a US Air hub at the chosen airport. There is no residence delivery for this situation. There is an additional courier fee of 95.00 as well.
Sunday Collection: Not available.
After you receive your shipment, PLEASE let us know that it has arrived. Again, DO NOT open the container.
Please be aware that the quality of the semen is directly related to the time of year the stallion is collected, weather (hot or cold) and how many mares the stallion is covering.
We require notification between 15 and 45 days after the mare has been bred, if she has taken or not. If your mare has been bred successfully, our contract requires the mare to receive a Pneumabort (Rhino) shot at 5, 7 and 9 months of gestation. If your vet feels this is unnecessary, we require his reason(-s) in writing* prior to the 5th month of gestation. We will then contact the vet to discuss his/her reasons. If your mare is in a high risk area, we suggest you vaccinate at 3,5,7,9 and 11 months of gestation.
Vet’s will typically palpate the mare at the time of giving these shots. If at any point, he discovers the mare has slipped or otherwise aborted, we must be notified in writing*, by the attending vet, immediately. Failure to do so, will result in the live foal guarantee being null and void. We will contact the vet for confirmation.
From the day that your mare is inseminated, til 45 days of gestation, Please do not give any medications, shots or wormers as this can result in a mare aborting. These can essentially be toxins and the body will launch a defense against them. After 45 days, with the exception of certain medications and wormers, you should be safe to dose your mare as you would normally. Always double check with your vet.
If at the end of the mare’s 11 month gestation, she has for any reason lost the foal, we again require the vet to list in writing* the possible reason, last known pregnancy date, last palpation, shot records, etc. If everything was inline with the breeding contract, you will be awarded another breeding for the present season. We will contact the vet for confirmation.
Why are we so strict? Again, we are selling you a foal, not a shipment of semen! We want to be sure your foal is going to maintain worth, we want to make sure our stallion’s maintain their worth as well. Our stallion’s foals reflect not only on themselves and our stallions, but us as well. This is why we approve the mares we breed, and require only the mare that is listed in the breeding contract be bred.
*Written statement, must be made on vet’s letter head or invoice, all office information including telephone number and vet’s licence number must be included.
Once the mare is bred…
A couple things to keep in mind with the mare that is near foaling. A normal gestational period can go from 320 to 400 days, without being “premature or overdue”. The record is 417 days. Unless Fescue is an issue, don’t worry about an “overdue” foal by means of a “due date”, there really is no “due date” in the equine.
Contrary to belief, the foal controls when the mare will deliver, NOT the mare. However the mare DOES have the ability to shut down the labor stage for around 48 hours. There are many reasons a mare would do this. She may be uncomfortable in her environment, a stall for instance. If you have a mare that seems to be showing some discomfort but is not progressing with labor, move her to a paddock in which she can be monitored. This paddock should be grassy and clear of any debris, rocks and should be made of safe suitable fencing. It should also have lights that can be turned on and off. Of course only turn the mare out in the paddock if weather permits. Remember the foal is born without active immunity and has no way of regulating it’s own temperature, if a foal gets wet or chilled, there could be problems.
90% of all foals are born without the need for human intervention. Please don’t get involved unless you are 100% certain that you need to. We suggest you ask your vet what to do and what not to do. Ask him what signs to look for before you need to call him and furthermore, what number you should call to get a hold of him should this be an early morning foal! If you vet does not live close, you may need to find an “on-call” vet that is closer or consider sending your mare to a center that foal’s mares out…even then things can happen that are beyond the control of humans and the foal may be lost anyway. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
After the foal is born: Ok now you have a foal. Most foals should be up standing within 20 to 30 minutes. It isn’t a major cause for concern if it isn’t, some foals may take an hour or a little longer. Anything beyond that or a listless appearance, get a vet out promptly. You could have a major problem. Don’t be alarmed if the mare easily nips at the foal’s legs. This is to encourage him to stand up. Only interfere if the mare is mutilating or harming the foal.
Never separate the umbilical cord unless you need to. If you need to, twist it apart a few inches below the foal’s belly. If you cut it, make sure to tie it off first. After it has separated, DO NOT under any circumstances, pull the placenta out of the mare. It WILL tear internally which can cause infection an may lead to infertility. The placenta is normally expelled about 30 minutes after the actual birth, however this process may take up to 3 hours. Around 2 hours if it has not been expelled, call you vet. To keep the mare from stepping on it, tie it up to itself. This will create some weight and will help the placenta detach.
Before the foal nurses you should clean the mare’s utter area and her back legs with just warm water. This can reduce the chances of spreading pathogens and help reduce the chance of Septicemia. You will also want to dip the foal’s naval stump in Nolvasan (.5% Chlorhexidine)
It is essential that your foal receive colostrum within 12 hours of birth. If possible, have your mare’s colostrum tested. Then have your foal tested to make sure he absorbed it properly. (Called Passive Transfer)
Try not to get involved, the only contact that you should have, (unless assistance is required) is to wash the mare, dip the umbilical stump, check the colostrum, tie up the umbilical cord and LEAVE! I know that most people feel imprinting should begin at birth, however this time is needed for the mare and foal to bond. If you interfere with this time, you could have the mare reject the foal. If you feel it necessary to imprint, do so after 12 to 24 hours.
If you are looking to learn more details about breeding, you should consider attending a reproduction clinic or seminar. We suggest Equine-Reproduction.com They have courses all over the country.