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Tips for Successful AI in Horses

Posted 25th July 2015

Artificial insemination in horses has been around for a considerable amount of time and has made a huge impact upon the horse breeding industry.

Legend has it that in 1322, an Arab chieftain allegedly stole some semen from a prize stallion owned by an adversary. He then used this to inseminate his own mare and bred his own ‘super foal’. Thankfully the whole process nowadays is far more professional, but the results can still be incredibly rewarding!

Why choose AI for my mare?

AI provides many advantages over traditional breeding methods. More strenuous disease control can be achieved and there is less risk of injury to the mare. Problem mares can be bred with due to the stringent observation of her cycle and semen can be collected from older or injured stallions who may boast great sports/competition credentials but are unable to serve a mare naturally.

AI also opens up a world of opportunity in breeding with stallions worldwide. de Boer & Taylor vets are able to travel to your yard and perform AI with minimal stress to your mare.

Our top tips for successful AI

1. Reproductive health

Ensure your mare is in excellent reproductive health. Check that vaccination records and worming programmes are up to date and that the hooves are well maintained. An ideal weight would be rather too light than too heavy.

2. Stallion choice

Choose the right stallion. You can ask stud farms to provide results from any semen quality test and ask for a percentage of mares that have conceived. Stud farms should also meet all requirements for disease control before shipping.

3. Semen choice

Decide which kind of semen to use. This should depend on the mares age and breeding health. Fresh or chilled semen maximises an older mares chance of conceiving. Fresh semen has the highest fertility rate but must be used almost immediately. Chilled semen has a good viability for 24-30 hours but ordering, shipping and delivery must be well managed.

Frozen semen can be shipped from all over the world but it can be expensive and is often least successful. All semen must be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate.

4. Timing

Prepare your mare for AI. She will need regular scanning until one of her ovarian follicles reaches 35mm. At this point, an HCG injection will be given to induce ovulation. Semen can then be ordered to arrive the next day by courier.

5. Insemination

The mare will be scanned again to check for ovulation and the semen will be examined to ensure it is active. The mare will then be inseminated.

6. Post insemination

Arrange for a scan after 12–16 days to check for pregnancy and to make sure no twins are present. If successful, organise a further scan for the 35th day to check all is proceeding well. Due to hormonal changes it is not unusual for mares to loose the pregnancy up until the 35th day.

This year, we have had a fantastic success rate with AI. Please contact us if you’d like any information about the AI package we provide or if you have any further questions.

Congratulations to all our clients whose mares have had successful pregnancies this year.