Preparing the Mare for Breeding

(short version)

In preparation for breeding a mare, a reproductive examination should be performed.  Whether breeding naturally or by artificial insemination (AI), the mare should be found physically and reproductively sound before presenting her to the stallion or scheduling her for breeding.

The reproductive examination can be done in the clinic.  The ovaries will be examined to be sure they are both present and functioning. They will also tell us where the mare is in her heat cycle.  The uterus will be examined rectally for size and texture.  The walls will be palpated for any cysts or scars.  Using a speculum, the cervix will be observed for scars and to confirm the stage of the heat cycle as determined by examination of the ovaries.  The vagina will be examined for discharge and scaring.  The color and lubrication of the lining will further confirm the heat status.  The lips of the vulva will be evaluated for their ability to close and protect the vagina, and ultimately the uterus, from contamination.

The mare's weight and body condition will be evaluated to determine if nutritional changes are needed.

All of the above can be performed during an office visit and takes about as long as to tell about it.  A swab from the uterus will be taken to check for infection.   A microscope check for inflammatory cells will tell us if infection is present in the uterus.  If these are found we know the mare is not ready for breeding.  Infection within the uterus may be lethal to the semen traveling through on the way to the egg, or provide fatal ground for the embryo once it drops into the uterus.  These infections usually do not become better with time.  

From the swab we take a culture which tells us what the infection is and what is the best antibiotic for treatment.  We will have the results in little more then 48 hours. Antibiotics are infused into the uterus for specific treatment of the infection.  The number of infusions are determined by the type of bacteria and how much grows on culture.

To be sure this one round of treatment was successful, another uterine culture is necessary a week after the last infusion.  If this is negative, the mare can be brought into heat using prostaglandin or wait for her next natural heat to be taken to the stallion or scheduled for breeding.

Whether the mare is to be bred naturally, by artificial insemination using fresh semen, or by artificial insemination using fresh cooled semen, the precautions are the same.  The routine reproductive examination should be the first priority after the stallion is selected and the paper work completed.  The small cost involved will be more then made up by reduced trips to the stallion or fewer days of mare care.  It will shorten the time to the establishment of a pregnancy and assure a good experience for the mare, the stallion, and their owners.

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