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What is horse artificial insemination?

What is horse artificial insemination?

Are you considering breeding your prized mare and wondering what your options are for equine reproduction? Here, our Southern Wisconsin vets talk about horse breeding using equine artificial insemination, what to expect and how veterinary hospitals can help.

What is equine artificial insemination?

Equine artificial insemination is an increasingly popular method of breeding horses in a way that can help improve the health of each herd but also ensure the safety of the horses during the insemination process. Artificial insemination includes the collection, preservation, and transfer of semen from the stallion into the mare. Equine artificial insemination may be used if the stallion will be used to impregnate one or more mares that are a long distance away and also to carry out the breeding process with difficult mares. This is an all-around safer and easier method of breeding for both of the horses.

The Artificial Insemination Procedure

Artificial insemination (AI) is the placement of semen into the uterus of a mare at the time of ovulation. It is performed by means of a catheter inserted through the mare’s cervix by a veterinarian.

There are three main methods of AI for horses. These are:

  • The fresh semen is collected on-site for immediate use. This method of AI enables more efficient use of the stallion and a potential increase in fertility rates.
  • Chilled semen is collected and injected with a semen diluter before being chilled and stored for up to 36 hours. This allows for the safe transportation of the semen to the mare of choice.
  • Frozen semen is stored using liquid nitrogen after collection. This allows for the furthest transportation of the semen and can allow for the use of semen from stallions that are no longer living. Frozen semen also takes the stress out of having semen available at the very moment the mare ovulates.

Timeframes For Equine Artificial Insemination

Timing Chilled & Fresh Semen Insemination

The goal with fresh and chilled equine semen is to inseminate the mare prior to ovulation.

While the goal is to inseminate the mare around 24 hours prior to ovulation, high-quality semen can last up to 48 hours in the oviduct of the mare.

A sample insemination schedule may look something like this:

  1. Friday: Record any uterine cysts, examine for signs of infection/disease and for the necessary signs that the mare is in season. If the mare is not yet in season then the administration of hormones may be requested.
  2. Monday: Monitor for signs of oestrus, record follicle sizes and collect a swab and smear from the uterus. The next examination will be scheduled based on the size of these follicles.
  3. Review laboratory results and take the next steps as indicated.
  4. Once a follicle 3.5cm in diameter is present an injection of luteinizing hormone can be given. Once this occurs the semen can be ordered for the next day.
  5. The mare can now be inseminated.

Timing Frozen Semen Insemination

Thawed semen will only last around 12 hours.

Once the mare has ovulated, there are around 6 hours in which the egg will remain viable. This means that insemination should ideally occur anywhere from 12 hours prior to and 6 hours after ovulation.

Predicting the mare's ovulation cycle is the most difficult and time-consuming step of the entire process. The cost can seem quite high for this service due to the time and effort involved.

Generally many horse breeders prefer the fixed schedule when they examine the mare daily until a 3.5cm follicle is reached, a luteinizing hormone injection is then given. Once they have been injected with the luteinizing hormone they can be inseminated once 32 hours have passed.

What to Expect Following Artificial Insemination

Examination after the artificial horse breeding process is completed is an important part of AI.

Unfortunately, stallion sperm has the ability to cause an inflammatory reaction within the mare’s uterus, resulting in post-inseminating endometritis. This issue can affect a number of mares making it difficult or even impossible for them to concieve. If the mare is suffering from endometriosis it will be visible on the ultrasound. If this is the case then antibiotics along with oxytocin injections will be administered in order to make the uterus contract and empty the fluid.

Another crucial reason behind these post-insemination exams is to confirm ovulation has occurred ruling out the need for further attempts at artificial insemination. While most mares mainly require the 24 hour post-insemination exam. Some mares that are susceptible to issues may need to have an examination after 6 hours.

The Cost of Equine Artificial Insemination

The costs associated with equine artificial insemination go well beyond the AI process itself. You need to take into consideration the chance that your mare may require more than one attempt. Once your mare is pregnant she will need ongoing care and diagnostics. Once the pregnancy has come to an end there will be the cost of foaling and care of the foal.

This makes the total cost of horse breeding using artificial insemination fluctuate. Speak with your Southern Wisconsin equine reproduction vets today to learn more about the costs of AI and all other associated costs.

How Equine Reproductive Services Can Help

This service offers a huge advantage for breeders. This is because it allows for more genetic selection from studs from all over the world and allows you to breed your mare without traveling.

Beyond convenience, you are also protecting the mare from the costs and hazards of travel and potential exposure to infectious disease and injury. Travel and changing facilities are stressful too, and a stressed-out mare is less likely to be fertile.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you interested in reproductive services? Contact your Southern Wisconsin vets to schedule a visit to discuss horse breeding or horse artificial insemination.

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Badger Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients. Our team is passionate about the health of animals from across Southern Wisconsin. Contact our closest location to book your first appointment today!

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