If you are interested in breeding your mare please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the process detailed below. Remember that breeding never comes with a guarantee of pregnancy, but the doctors at Jackpot Veterinary Center do all we can to optimize the process.
First, consider your mare and her history. Is she a maiden mare (never carried a foal to term) or seasoned broodmare? Are you wanting to have her carry or flush embryos to put into another mare to carry? This will dictate the level of reproductive success to expect as well as process involved. At Jackpot Veterinary Center we are currently not accepting mares for embryo transfer.
There are thousands of stallions available nationwide. Selection of the ideal stallion for your mare is essential. Take your time and do your research, but keep in mind there are many stallions available locally as well.
It is important to know if the stallion you select is available for a limited time of breeding or collection. You’ll also want to know what days a week they collect for cooled shipped semen or if they’re only offering frozen semen.
Breeding a mare via live cover is one of the most effective ways to get a mare settled. This is due to several factors: first, there are hormonal surges that help ensure ovulation in addition to ovulation inducing medications administered by veterinarians. The quality of the semen in a live cover event is also much better with much higher motility.
Most stallion owners have a desired process for breeding mares. Some owners will simply take your mare for several weeks to ensure the stallion has had a chance to breed her several times as she comes into heat naturally. Other stallion owners want more of a precise timeline, and want your mares arriving after detailed ultrasound or even culture. Be sure to speak directly with stallion owners, or let us know if you have any other questions regarding their breeding contracts.
Artificial Insemination (AI)
Cooled Shipped Semen
Breeding a mare via AI and Cooled Shipped Semen is by far the most common method and has much better success than frozen semen. This process involves a diligent manipulation and monitoring of a mare’s follicular growth as well as uterine tone, in order to predict and optimize when she will ovulate.
If you have a mare you wish to breed by Cooled Shipped Semen start by monitoring her heat cycles. As soon as you observe her coming into heat bring her into us for an ultrasound. We will keep her at the hospital throughout the cycle, monitoring her follicular growth as needed with rectal ultrasounds.
Once her follicle has reached an appropriate size the mare is administered medications to induce ovulation. This ensures that when semen is ordered and arrives, she will ovulate in the ideal window for semen viability.
Once semen is ordered and arrives we check its motility under a microscope. Stallion collection services will measure motility after collection, as well as determine a concentration or “dose” of semen to be sent out. We verify the motility has maintained and that it is of appropriate quality to breed with.
There are usually days of the week that studs are collected, so we strive to communicate efficiently with stallion services to ensure your mare is “ordered” appropriately. The stallion is collected and the semen is either overnight shipped or flown if more urgently needed. We always strive to avoid flying semen to avoid additional costs to owners.
Once the semen has arrived and the follicle is just ready to ovulate we prep the mare and inseminate. After insemination we ensure the mare has ovulated and that the uterus is appropriate (no fluid collected post breeding) for implantation of embryo.
This process is delicate, and takes substantial effort and monitoring over the 4 to 5 day heat cycle. This is why leaving mares at the clinic is essential, as breeding in the field complicates this process dramatically.
After the mare is bred she can return home and come back 14 days post breeding for follow up ultrasound examination. This is where we can confirm pregnancy.
Frozen Semen- we do not currently offer this service, but for your information, breeding a mare with frozen semen is a similar process as with fresh cooled except that we have a more limited window for breeding success.
Frozen semen is stored in liquid nitrogen and as it is thawed the motility returns, but generally is a fraction of the motility of cooled shipped semen. Because of the limited motility, breeding a mare with frozen semen requires even more precision, and we are often ultrasounding these mares every 2-4 hours to ensure we breed as close to ovulation as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What do I need to do to get started?
Select the stallion you want and read over the service contract to be sure everything is in order. It is always helpful for us to have a copy of the contract for our records as well. Many will recommend or even require a pre-breeding ultrasound exam, culture or cytology.
What do I need to do once my mare is ready/in heat?
Simply bring her in to Jackpot Veterinary Center and we will review all documents and ultrasound her at time of arrival. Bring her in as soon as you notice heat signs as we will need time to watch follicular growth and order semen appropriately. Plan to leave her for the time of her cycle with us and any supplements or grain she needs (we provide both grass and alfalfa hay while they’re with us).
What if I can’t tell when my mare is in heat?
No problem! It is not uncommon for mares to be guarded, particularly maiden or older mares. Bring them in and we can check where they are and “short cycle” them to bring them into heat faster.
What time of year is best?
We recommend spring breeding, ideally February thru May. Breeding mares into June or July in Arizona becomes more and more challenging, as the high heat will limit or modify their ovulation and ability to get pregnant.
Can you come to me to breed my mare at my facility?
Safety is important to us as well as our mares. We have bred many mares in the field in the past, but as we now have a clinic, we highly recommend they come in to ensure optimum breeding efficiency. Safety is also essential as mares can be bred and ultrasounded in stocks, avoiding sedation and keeping both your mare and your veterinarian safe. We are no longer breeding in the field without stocks or outside of a certain call radius.
What are the costs associated with breeding?
We have a flat fee for each breeding cycle for your mare. There are separate fees for added services (cultures, flush, cytology) as well as to store frozen semen with us. The costs for the stallion (collection and shipping fees) are the owner’s responsibility as are the breeding or stud fee. For a complete estimate please reach out to one of our doctors directly.