Artificial insemination (AI) has become a very common way of breeding, but it needs to be undertaken with a veterinarian experienced in the intricacies of shipped and/or frozen semen.
The first step is following the mare’s cycle, and timing her estrous cycle and ovulation to coincide with semen availability. Insemination needs to take place close to ovulation to optimize fertility, and it must be done with extreme care in order to not contaminate the mare’s uterus. Post-breeding inflammation of the uterus is not uncommon; if not identified quickly and treated, the mare will fail to get pregnant. Once she has ovulated (and we’ve treated any uterine inflammation), we will check the mare for pregnancy 14 days after ovulation via ultrasound. Using the ultrasound allows us to detect pregnancies far earlier than by palpation or blood work.
If using frozen semen, timing is of the utmost importance because the mare must be inseminated within hours of ovulation. When using frozen semen you are also very limited in semen quantity. Experience in working with frozen semen is vital to protect your investment. Frozen semen must be thawed and handled with exacting care; there are also a variety of different semen straws that must be handled with different techniques. Post-breeding uterine inflammation can decrease fertility significantly and jeopardize your mare’s chances of getting pregnant. For these reasons, we offer low-dose (or frozen) insemination in very select cases at our clinic. Furthermore, we strongly recommend using two doses of frozen semen per cycle to increase our conception rate. The cost associated with frozen semen insemination is higher due to the complexity and expertise required.
The use of frozen semen allows us to avoid breeding mares around the stallion’s show schedule; gives us access to stallions on other continents; and gives us the chance to still breed to a stallion that has suffered from illness, injury, or even death.
If you are considering using frozen semen, here are some questions to ask.
- Is this stallion EVA negative? The answer should be yes
- How many times has this semen been used and how many pregnancies have resulted? If no pregnancies have resulted, and over ten doses have been used, this stallion and/or use of frozen semen may not be the best choice.
- What is the average post thaw motility? At least 35% is desirable, but if many pregnancies have resulted we can overlook low post thaw motility.
Give us a call when you want to breed your mare and we can help you through the whole process.