When breeding equines, the natural process may not always work, but it can seem intimidating or complicated to attempt artificial insemination for your horse for the first time. Here, our Southern Wisconsin vets share the benefits of equine artificial insemination and how you can get the process started.
Often, breeding is a part of owning horses. Equine owners are familiar with the sometimes difficult process of reproducing their mares. This is why, for years and especially recently, artificial insemination is an increasingly used option.
What is Artificial Insemination (AI)?
Equine artificial insemination is the process of placing chilled semen in the reproductive tract of the mare. During this process, the mare and stallion do not come into contact with one another.
Though AI is not regulated by the government, there is a code of conduct and practice produced by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). The AI process heavily relies on the preparedness and compliance of the horse owners.
This is why it is key to understand what you need to do before using reproductive services and the benefits and potential issues of artificial insemination.
Reasons to Use AI
There are a few reasons why an equine owner might use AI. Some of the most common reasons include:
- If the stallion is a race or show horse, breeding season would interrupt his schedule
- The male and female horses are too far apart to transport
- To control bloodlines and rare breeds
- To control geographical spread
- The stallion passes after his sperm is frozen and preserved
If any of the above reasons apply to a horse owner's situation, they may want to consult an equine vet about whether or not AI is a viable option for their mare.
The Benefits of AI
Beyond the convenience of not having to transport the mare, and being able to control the genetics that are reproducing, AI also protects the mare from the potential risks of travel. Travel and changing environments can be stressful for horses, which can also impact their fertility upon arrival.
Another upside to AI is efficiency. Stallions who have their semen extracted and frozen can impregnate far more mares than if they were to breed naturally, without the physical strain. And, most obviously, another benefit of AI is eliminating the risk of sexually transmitted disease spreading between horses.
Potential Issues with AI
While AI is a safe and convenient option for all of these reasons, there are also potential risks to be aware of. Some of these potential problems include:
- Frozen semen has a lower chance of impregnating a mare
- There is an increased risk of the mare contracting Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA)
- Improper timing of insemination and ovulation of the mare
- Delayed transportation of frozen sperm can impact vitality
That being said, there are measures that can be taken to help lessen the chance of these issues taking place.
Is Artificial Insemination Right for my Mare?
After reviewing the basic facts about equine AI, the best way to know if it is a good option for your mare is to consult your veterinarian. Speak to a professional about the breeding services you are looking for for your horse.