Q & A
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Q: I am planning to breed my 5 year old mare for the first time. What should I consider to prepare her for breeding?
A: A uterine culture is recommended for all open mares prior to the breeding season. Since this is a young mare the chances of her having a uterine infection are very small. Still, a culture is the best and cheapest way of ensuring your mare's chances of conception.
Q: My mare did not get in foal last year. What and when do you recommend checking her for infertility?
A: The best time to investigate any problems or issues with your mare is in the fall. This will allow enough time for treatment prior to the breeding season. We recommend both uterine culture and biopsy. While the uterine culture will determine if your mare is carrying an infection, the uterine biopsy will determine if any inflammation or scar tissue is present. We can treat the uterus for inflammation, however there is nothing that can be done for the scar tissue in the uterus. According to the results of the biopsy, we can determine the chances, in terms of percentage rate, of your mare becoming pregnant and carry a foal to term.
Q: Do you recommend breeding on foal heat?
A: Yes, I do. Unless the mare has uterine fluid at the time of breeding, has a large uterus, or will be ovulating less than 10 days from foaling. If the mare has had any complications at foaling we also skip foal heat breeding.
Q: I am considering breeding my mare with frozen semen next year. Is the conception rate with frozen semen really low?
A: The conception rate with frozen semen can be as high as the conception rate with fresh/chilled semen. There are many factors involved on the success rate. The first factor to investigate is the semen quality of the stallion you consider using. Some stallions have excellent semen quality post freezing/thawing, while others have very poor quality. Consider using proven stallions and mares with good fertility.
Q: I would like to do an Embryo Transfer on my 15 year old mare and have the embryo transferred into a 5 year old mare that I have at the farm. The 5 year old mare has very good manners and she would be a perfect mom. What is your opinion ?
A: Even though the mare you have available to use as a recipient is young and she has the qualities of a recipient mare, having only one recipient mare to choose from at the time of the transfer is not the ideal situation. We need to have two or three recipient mares synchronized with the donor mare at the time of breeding. These mares will be checked and selected again later on, based on palpation and ultrasound, at the time of the transfer. The selection of the recipient mare is crucial to accomplish good results in a embryo transfer program.
Q: My mare is 14 years old and the last time she had an ultrasound performed she appeared to have many uterine cysts. Do the uterine cysts interfere with fertility ?
A: Some mares develop uterine cysts after a certain age. The uterine cysts usually do not interfere with fertility directly, unless the number of cysts is too high. The presence of uterine cysts indicate that the mare is getting some age, and older mares may develop other uterine pathology that will have a bigger impact on fertility, for example, scar tissue in the uterus. Excessive number of uterine cysts may prevent movement of the embryo early on (less than 16 days) and therefore prevents the mare from recognizing she is pregnant (early maternal recognition of pregnancy). When the embryo attaches next to the uterine cyst, I recommend starting the mare on progesterone for maybe 2 or 3 weeks, since the embryo could have less absorption of nutrients due to limited contact with the uterine wall.
Q: Do you believe that mares benefit from progesterone supplementation?
A: Even though there has not been any scientific data to support the fact the progesterone supplementation will benefit some mares to become pregnant and to carry the pregnancy to term, in practice the benefits from progesterone supplementation are well accepted.
Q: My mare is an every other year mare, and she will not become pregnant if she has a foal at her side. What causes the every other year mare ?
A: I believe that the every other year mare has some type of uterine pathology. After foaling, the uterus fails to return to normal and remains with inflammation. The inflammation then prevents the mare from becoming pregnant. There are also mares that raise their foals so well that they become very thin when lactating. These mares just lack energy and fail to cycle normally and become pregnant.
Q: What does uterine lavage mean? Does the uterine lavage wash out the embryo from the uterus?
A: The uterine lavage is the same as uterine flush. It will flush out debris, discharge and bacteria from the uterus and work as a treatment for acute inflammation in the uterus. Mares that develop inflammation in the uterus post breeding or problem breeders can benefit from uterine lavage. The lavage can be performed as early as 6 hours from breeding and up to 3 days from ovulation without interfering with the transport of the sperm. The embryo will arrive in the uterus on day 5 from ovulation and therefore performing the uterine lavage prior to day 3 should not wash out the embryo from the uterus.