MARE BREEDING SCHEMES
At Equine reproductive Services (UK) we work closely with stallion and stud owners across the North of England offering bespoke fixed price breeding schemes. These are optional schemes where the mare owner pays a single fee per breeding attempt, to cover the costs of veterinary work necessary to help get their mare in foal and monitor the early pregnancy. The scheme is a fixed fee with a discount for prompt payment.
Many mares need considerable monitoring and treatment after breeding and the costs of this can soon mount up if clients ‘pay as they go’. If a mare is on a breeding scheme, many of the procedures are already paid for, enabling the client to know their outlay on veterinary fees for that breeding attempt regardless of the amount of veterinary work involved. Over the years, as a veterinary practice specialising in equine breeding work, we have found this offers the best approach to getting mares in foal as early as possible in the breeding season.
Please be aware that not all schemes are comparable, our schemes are bespoke for the studs or insemination centres that they are offered from. Take care also in comparing schemes between veterinary practices as they don’t all include the same amount of scans and/or treatments. Some of our schemes are designed to include the routine work for your mare and her foal and these schemes may include foal examination and immunoglobulin G (IgG) assessment as well as completing a foal identification document and microchipping. Other schemes are designed to cover only the basics leaving the stud manager to manage mares more traditionally and are priced accordingly. Our schemes do not cover livery of your mare and/or foal, this is left up to the studs caring for your mare(s).
Schemes vary depending on where the mare is based and wether the mare is being naturally bred or artificially inseminated with chilled or frozen semen, however our schemes all include the physical and ultrasound examination of the genital organs assuming she is cycling properly, ovulation drugs, insemination (in the case of artificial breeding), oxytocin injections, a single post-breeding uterine lavage (if necessary), Caslick’s operation (stitching of the vulva) and pregnancy diagnosis at 14 to 16 days, 24 to 28 days and 36 to 42 days. Our schemes also include the management of twins at the 14-16 day stage. Any particular requirements or suggestions clients have regarding the veterinary care of their mares are taken into account.
Contact us at the office and we will happily discuss what services are offered where and what the schemes cost. Or, if you have a particular stallion in mind which is based at one of our studs, please feel free to contact them directly as they have copies of all the schemes offered. Studs that we work with can be found on the studs page.
INTERNAL EXAMINATION OF MARES
Examination of a mares reproductive organs is done via palpation and ultrasound per rectum. The vets hand is placed in the mares rectum and the reproductive tract palpated or imaged through the rectal wall. This examination is an act of veterinary surgery governed by the ‘veterinary surgeons act 1966’. The procedure is generally very well tolerated by mares however, some do not like it and do not agree with us doing it. In such cases mares may be chemically restrained (sedated) for their safety and ours. Although examination per rectum is a common and routine procedure it is accepted that there is a small but inevitable risk of injury to the rectal wall with possible life threatening consequences. However, rectal tears are an uncommon to rare complication of rectal examination and we use our experience with mares to minimise this risk as much as possible.
All mares visiting our studs should ideally have negative blood tests for equine viral arteritis (EVA), equine infectious anaemia (EIA) and a clitoral swab taken for CEM, prior to arrival at stud however this is at the discretion of the studs that we visit. For example, a stud involved with Thoroughbred mares may ask that any mares at stud for artificial insemination have the same tests as their Thoroughbred mares. Whereas another centre may not require health tests for all mares. If you have any questions about the health status of mares at stud please speak to us or the studs themselves. For mares that do not have these tests and/or appropriate certification we can do these tests on the mares arrival at stud. Some schemes include health tests.
SEMEN HEALTH STATUS
United Kingdom based stallions: It is recommended that all Stallions within the United Kingdom supplying semen to mares be screened for those diseases that could be potentially transmitted to your mare via his semen sample but it is not a legal requirement. The diseases of greatest concern in the UK are CEM (Taylorella equigenitalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae), Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) and Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA). When the semen arrives it should be identified with the stallions name and contain certification stating that the stallion in question has been tested within the breeding season and is free from these diseases. However, as this is not a legal requirement, some stallion owners do not have the tests performed; this is their choice and we understand this however, it does represent a risk to your mare and other mares on the stud. If semen arrives unidentified or without any health certification, we will attempt to contact you, or we will try to determine the health status of the semen direct from the stallion owner/semen supplier. This will delay insemination of your mare and if we can not contact you we reserve the right not to inseminate your mare. If you are in any doubt about the health status of a stallion it is best to discuss it with the stallion owner prior to ordering the semen.
European and rest of World stallions: It is a legal requirement for chilled and frozen semen arriving from outside the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to have health certification. Such semen without appropriate health certification can not be inseminated into your mare and should be reported to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as an illegal import.
If chilled semen is imported from Europe (including the Republic of Ireland) without a valid original Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate it can not be inseminated into your mare. Your name, will likely be associated with this semen import, and it will be you that is making an illegal import. Saying this if the semen is not used you will not get into any trouble. We will liaise with the authorities on your behalf and sort the problem out but we will miss the opportunity to inseminate your mare on this occasion as the semen will have to be destroyed.
If frozen semen is imported from Europe or beyond without a valid original Intra Trade Animal Health Certificate it can not be inseminated into your mare. However because it is frozen we may be able to liaise with the authorities and sort the appropriate paperwork out for the semen. Such semen however, must remain quarantined in the semen shipper in which it arrived until paperwork can be arranged, during this time you may miss the opportunity to inseminate
Our schemes do not cover courier costs associated with shipping of semen to us or return of semen containers. We are not responsible for any additional veterinary, livery, or other costs incurred in the event of chilled or frozen semen not arriving on the day ordered to inseminate the mare or arriving without appropriate health certification. So to avoid any delays and additional livery costs it is recommended that frozen semen be shipped to the stud before the mare’s arrival. We will arrange for frozen semen to be stored on site in tanks maintained and overseen by a representative of Genus Breeding Limited, who are experienced in such work. We will not charge you for semen being stored with us during the breeding period. We will however charge you for storage of remaining unused semen. We do not provide insurance for frozen semen in storage at our studs. If you wish you can take out privately based insurance on the semen you have in storage with us. If you want to discuss the risks associated with frozen semen storage please speak with us, for more details on how to insure your semen we suggest you contact Irene Pickering, NFU Yorkshire Coast Agency on 01723 585307.
Semen quality can be variable and we can not give any guarantee of the success of any given insemination. Generally when we receive semen of low quality we do inseminate your mare with it as the old adage ‘you only need one’ is technically true. In reality we advise that you ideally need at least 300 million mobile spermatozoa to give you a reasonable chance of success. When and where possible we examine the semen post insemination and make an assessment of the number of spermatozoa and their motility. In cases where the quality is sub-standard we will try and speak with you (the mare owner) first and then let the stallion owner/semen supplier know as a matter of courtesy. Over the years we have found this the best approach. On occasion, if it suits your mare, additional chilled semen may be sought for the same or next day. In the case of frozen semen we may be able to use additional straws or semen doses depending on who the semen belongs to (see below).
Q. Who owns the frozen semen?
A. That depends if you have bought the semen or bought a nomination to a particular stallion that is being fulfilled with frozen semen. If you have bought and paid for the semen and have a sale agreement then you own the semen. If you have purchased and paid for a nomination agreement (stud fee) then the stallion owner or agent owns the semen.
Q. Can I get more than one mare in foal as we have received a number of straws?
A. This depends on the sale agreement, if you own the semen, often you can use it on as many mares as you like however, check your agreement. If you have a nomination agreement then this is usually for one named mare and you can not use the semen on other mares without a variation in the agreement, or by paying another stud fee for each additional mare.
Q. If I have 10 straws is that 10 doses?
A. No, not necessarily. A dose of semen varies most commonly between 1 and 6 straws and this is determined by the centre that froze the semen, the post freezing quality and the success achieved with the semen when used to breed a reasonable number of fertile mares.
Q. If I have a dose of 6 straws can we use 3 this time and if she does’t get in foal have another go with the other 3?
A. If you own the semen then yes, you may be able to ‘split doses’ but you must check your sale agreement. You must also realise that you may reduce the chance of getting your mare in foal on both occasions.
If you have a nomination agreement, it is usually expected that a full dose of semen will be inseminated, however many straws that may be, at each breeding attempt. Remember you don’t own the semen (See: Who owns the frozen semen?) so what is the advantage of splitting the dose?
Q. I heard that inseminating my mare twice, once before and once after ovulation is best, can we do this?
A. If you own the semen then yes, you can use as much semen as you like on your mare. In some circumstances, inseminating a full dose before and after ovulation can increase pregnancy rates. If your sale agreement allows, splitting a dose before and and after ovulation can sometimes be done but in general we would usually inseminate a full dose of semen once within 4 hours of ovulation.
If you have a nomination agreement, the use of more than one dose per cycle is at the discretion of the stallion owner/agent and should be authorised by them.