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What you need to know…

Breeding a foal of your own is becoming more fashionable due to the convenience of “AI at home”, but have you considered all the facts?Breeding a foal of your own is becoming more fashionable due to the convenience of “AI at home”, but have you considered all the facts? 
 
Is the mare a suitable mother?
Many aspects are inherited, for example temperament and conformation, i.e. flat feet, navicular, bad teeth, joint problems and much more. There is still debate whether headshaking, sarcoids and some stable vices are also inherited
 
Is she reproductively sound?
Often it is the older mare recruited to have a foal. However with age the ovaries may become less active, the uterus a less receptive environment and her ‘reproductive conformation’ may cause her to be more susceptible to developing complications after insemination.
 
Is the stallion really what you are looking for?
Obviously looks are very important but remember he will provide half of the DNA for the foal. Have you chosen him for his athletic potential? Do you want a competition or a show horse, do you want ‘more bone’ or ‘more speed’? But also remember he will influence all of the same inherited considerations mentioned before, including temperament and conformation.

 
How much will it cost?
Assuming there are no complications then you should budget for 3 cycles/attempts of the mare conceiving and the vets fees associated with this.  Remember the livery fees if away at stud will include at least a 28 day scan post conceiving, and possibly a 42 day scan. A stallion ‘nomination’ fee, whether natural, fresh, chilled or frozen (including transport and storage).
 
On foaling, winter feed, rugs and bedding. Stabling and veterinary fees at foaling. Registration, passport and microchipping. Worming, vaccinations, insurance, weaning, castration, farriery, dentistry, also possibly wolf tooth removal. Then sending away for breaking and schooling. Only then might you have a saleable commodity but do not imagine it will cover the above costs, this is a labour of love!.
 
How do I proceed from here?
Assuming the mare is healthy and has to go away to stud she will need swabs and blood samples taking to make sure she is clear of venereal diseases. These take at least 10 days to be processed. Once at stud she may be “short cycled” to encourage her to return into season ‘in the next few days’, to help speed the process up.
 
What happens at stud?
When in season she will be examined repeatedly over the following few days to ascertain the optimum time for covering or insemination. Once impregnated she will be checked to ensure she is clean inside, then checked at 16-18 days and if pregnant scanned again at 28 days for a foetal heart beat and a further scan at 42 days. Did you know that while a natural mating may produce viable semen living for up to 5 days, frozen semen, once thawed and inseminated, may only live for 6 hours, just like the unfertilised egg! Thus timing is critical. This explains the necessity for so many visits.
 
Should I use AI or Natural?
Usually you will not have a choice! Internet stallions may only supply frozen semen, stored at -176C, but some will offer chilled semen due to having a better fertility rate. However, whichever method you chose it is imperative that the semen comes with a fully comprehensive health certificate, ensuring it is free from all contagious diseases.
 
Advantages of AI include:
Less need to travel mares or put them at risk from being exposed to infections or injury. Greater choice of stallions from all over the world.

Advantages of Natural covering:
Cheaper and the only recognised method of mating registered Thoroughbred mares.
 
Too Posh To Push?
Embryo Transfer may be the answer for competing mares but this is very expensive and should ideally be undertaken at a specialist facility. It entails washing out a 7 day old fertilised embryo from the mare then implanting it into a recipient surrogate mare for the next 11 months.

Still interested?
Start soon as the breeding season starts in the spring. Feel free to ring the practice on 01933 222145 to discuss with us your mare’s needs for the 2018 breeding season and set the ball rolling soon. Article by Swanspool Equine & Farm Vets.