INCREASING STALLION FERTILITYMost of the time, Mother Nature does a great job of managing the equine breeding season. Mares cycle and ovulate on a set schedule, allowing veterinarians and stallion managers to plan accordingly. When a mare is difficult to get in foal, there are a multitude of things that can be done to help Mother Nature along. But sometimes, the problem isn’t the mare. Sometimes, a stallion’s semen quality is poor enough to cause issues settling mares. When that happens, there are some things you cando to give Mother Nature a helping hand.
MARE PREP 101
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Written by Jessica Robbins Harms, Quarter Horse News Online
It’s that time of year again. Just as cool air creeps into the barn and water buckets ice, veterinarians are putting in longer days at the breeding barns, and mare motels are filling up fast. At Oswood Stallion Station, Weatherford, Texas, resident veterinarian Dr. Ron Foland estimated their roster of mares to be about 60 in mid-January with many more to come.
Such facilities help owners take the guesswork out of getting their mares bred, but as Foland explained, there are many things that can be done ahead of time to help increase conception rates and keep mares happy and stress-free.
Typically, Foland recommends putting a mare under lights by the first of December, which tricks her heat cycle into thinking the days are longer and breeding time has arrived.
Because horses are seasonal breeders and don’t naturally come into cycle until spring, putting them under lights after the sun has gone down on a winter day “tricks” their bodies into thinking the season has already changed. Then, ideally, the hormones that cause a mare to come into heat begin to be produced.
A horse, especially a show prospect, foaled earlier in the year has the obvious mental and physical advantages over a horse foaled later in the year, as well as the added training time once show season arrives, hence the reason for getting mares bred early.
To do the trick, Foland advises that mares, whether they’re kept in a stall or out in a paddock receive 18 hours of constant light per day.
“If they’re in a barn, the lights need to come on at 6 a.m. and stay on until the natural light takes over,” he explained. “Then, they need to come back on when the natural light is gone, until about midnight.”
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