Breeding a mare with a history of reproductive failure can be a frustrating and expensive proposition for the mare and owner. At Candlewood Equine, we carefully review the mare and examine her reproductive history in order to provide a realistic prognosis for establishing and maintaining a pregnancy. Our breeding services range from reproductive evaluations including transrectal palpations and ultrasound to routine exams for follicle assessment or pregnancy detection. We use numerous diagnostic techniques to evaluate the uterus as well as uterine treatments, such as antibiotic therapy and/or uterine lavage. Routine hormone treatments and a daily tease program aid in determining the optimal time for insemination or breeding.
We provide fertility evaluations and reproductive management at our clinic facility or on your farm. However, breeding the mare at your farm can have reduced fertility results as the mare cannot be as closely monitored for ovulation and retained fluid as she can be in our clinic environment.
Below are some of the mare reproductive services we offer:
- Breeding Soundness Examination
Prior to purchasing a new mare, or breeding a maiden mare, we recommend an external and internal evaluation of the reproductive tract. This exam is not only for breeding purposes but for mares who will be competing. Externally, poor vulvar conformation can cause a number of reproductive problems such as wind sucking, urine pooling, or may make a mare a candidate for uterine infections. Internally, ultrasound can be used to detect fluid, cysts, or tumors anywhere along the reproductive tract, which could cause infertility and poor performance. The use of rectal palpation can determine structural abnormalities within the cervix, uterus, uterine horns, or ovaries, whereas a vaginal speculum examination can help evaluate the cervix, whose job is to help maintain pregnancy. Diagnostics, such as a uterine culture, can evaluate the uterine environment for bacterial infections.
If a mare has a history of fertility problems or has had a previous dystocia, a full evaluation may detect a reason for the sub-fertility and help to better understand the future chances of getting her in foal and maintaining a pregnancy. Many breeders may elect to have their reproductive exams done early before breeding season starts in order to identify and alleviate complications. With proper diagnostics and good management, your mare’s reproductive potential can be achieved.
The breeding soundness exam includes the following services:
- Medical Breeding History
- Physical Exam
- Ultrasound Exam
- Vaginal Speculum Exam
- Digital Cervical Exam
- Uterine Culture
- Uterine Biopsy
- Artificial Insemination
Using artificial insemination has made it easier to breed the stallion of your choice, however, mare management and timing is critical using cooled or frozen semen. The mare’s cycle is carefully monitored by teasing, rectal palpation and ultrasonography. Shipped cooled semen is ordered so it arrives shortly before the mare ovulates, while frozen semen is stored in our permanent storage tanks to be thawed when needed. Special techniques such as deep uterine horn insemination are routinely utilized for breeding with frozen semen. If necessary, hormonal treatments may be used to assist in achieving optimal timing of ovulation.
- Embryo Transfer
Embryo Transfer (ET) is an assisted reproduction technique by which eggs are recovered after fertilization (usually 6-8 days after breeding) and transferred from the uterus of a donor mare to the uterus of a synchronized recipient (surrogate) mare that will carry the pregnancy to term.
Recipient mares can be provided by the donor mare owner, or embryos can be shipped to another facility where multiple recipients can be provided. The recipients in these programs are available on a contract basis.
Advantages of ET:
- Mares that are in competition can be bred and flushed with little interruption to their busy schedule while the recipient mare carries the pregnancy to term.
- It is possible to increase the number of offspring from a prized mare by flushing her on each estrus cycle of the breeding season. This will give you the possibility of several foals versus only one by natural methods.
- Older mares or mares that have had several pregnancies are prone to endometrial degeneration, which may render them incapable of sustaining a pregnancy to term. The breeding life of such mares can by extended by transferring the embryos into the healthy uterus of a younger mare.
- The procedure is non-surgical and there is no increased risk of embryo loss or birth defects from ET foals than from foals in the normal population.
Disadvantages of ET:
- It is more expensive than conventional breeding methods.
- Some breed associations, such as The Jockey Club, do not permit the use of ET in registered Thoroughbreds for racing.
- Certain breed associations only permit the registration of one or two foals from the same donor mare per year.
- Sub-Fertility Management
Every breeding season we work with a number of mares that are sub-fertile. These mares have either had a history of abortion, early embryonic death or failure to conceive. In evaluating a problem mare, all aspects of management should be examined. This might include nutrition, teasing techniques, parasite control, medical history and evaluation for chronic generalized disease.
There are many factors that contribute to sub-fertility such as age, contamination and infection of the reproductive tract, reproductive conformation problems, reproductive tract problems such as endometritis and uterine cysts or a malfunctioning of the hormonal system. We work with owners to optimize fertility in these mares by identifying specific abnormalities and either correcting them or working to minimize their negative effects.