Our reproduction center offers specialized year round stallion services. With nearly 20 years experience working with stallions of all breeds, Candlewood Equine provides problem stallion consultations and investigates semen quality concerns. In recent years, numerous advancements have been made in the evaluation of equine sperm. This is particularly relevant as the demand for artificial insemination replaces natural cover. We train novice stallions to the phantom and offer them a chance to reach their full breeding potential in a safe and controlled environment with a team of trained staff.
Our stallion services include breeding soundness exams, semen collection and evaluation, processing for cooled semen shipment and semen freezing, storage and distribution. Our onsite laboratory and frozen semen storage facility allows Candlewood Equine to serve all your breeding needs.
Stallion Breeding Soundness Exam
Stallion reproductive exams are performed for a number of reasons, including pre-purchase, breeding or re-evaluation due to age, injury or fertility. A breeding soundness exam (BSE) includes not only examination of the stallion’s semen but also the evaluation of the stallion’s physical condition and his ability to breed a mare/phantom.
The evaluation of the stallion for breeding soundness includes the following:
- General Physical Exam – This exam evaluates the stallions mental faculties, disposition and conformation for any conditions that may adversely affect his ability to mount a mare or phantom. A cardiovascular exam is is performed on the heart and lungs to evaluate and identify any potential abnormalities that can be exacerbated by breeding.
- External Reproductive Organs – Here we examine the genitalia area of the stallion for injuries, scars, lesions, trauma or injury which can be detrimental to the stallion’s ability to breed a mare. The scrotum and testicles are measured as testicular size and width correlates with sperm production and output. The normal stallion has two testes and palpation should reveal that they have the same consistency with no abnormalities of shape or texture.
- Internal Reproductive Organs – To assess potential pathogenic bacterial growth, a set of cultures is taken from the stallion’s prepuce, urethra, and penile shaft. Many normal organisms are in this area so a positive culture is probably not important unless pathogenic organisms are identified. A blood sample will be taken to determine the status of exposure to Equine Viral Arteritis virus and establish the hormone levels of testosterone, FSH and estrogen.
- Semen Collection and Evaluation – In collecting semen from a stallion we use a breeding phantom. Immediately following the collection of semen, it is evaluated for volume motility, concentration and total sperm numbers. Morphology of the sperm will be examined to check for abnormalities of the sperm cells that could play a role in reduced fertility and the semen will also be cultured to check for internal genital infections. Further testing of the semen can optionally be carried out for ability to be shipped or frozen.
In general, to be a satisfactory breeding prospect, the stallion must be free of undesirable heritable defects, behavioral disorders, venereal diseases, physical defects that could prevent breeding, and must ejaculate greater than 1 billion progressively motile sperm on the second of two ejaculates collected 1 hour apart. However, the most reliable measure of fertility in a stallion is the pregnancy rate he obtains when bred to mares of normal fertility under ideal management.
Annual assessments for actively breeding stallions prior to the breeding season can help with management decisions and provide a baseline for comparison if a problem should arise. A breeding soundness exam is an essential part of maximizing your stallions reproductive health, fertility and management.
Cooled Semen Collection, Evaluation, Processing and Shipment
By utilizing cooled semen, it is now commonplace for owners to breed from stallions located across the country while keeping their mares close to home. Candlewood Equine offers owners the use of their stallion’s semen in a fresh, cooled-shipping program.
After the semen is collected from the stallion, it is immediately evaluated and processed for fresh or shipped-cooled use. The initial semen evaluation includes determination of: 1) gel-free volume, 2) percent sperm motility (total and progressive), 3) sperm concentration and 4) morphology.
If the semen is to be used for fresh insemination, the appropriate volume of raw semen is mixed with semen extender so that each insemination dose contains at least 500 million progressively motile sperm cells. If the semen is to be used for shipped-cooled insemination, the appropriate volume of raw semen is mixed with semen extender so that each insemination dose contains at least one billion progressively motile sperm cells.
In preparation for shipped-cooled semen, the sperm is evaluated in several different commercial cooling extenders for motility at 24 and 48 hours post collection. This test determines which extender and at what concentration optimizes spermatozoal longevity. Providing the potential mare owner with the best semen possible is critical for fertility.
Your stallion can be trailered in, his semen collected and processed, and he can be quickly on his way back home. Our experienced staff can collect from your stallion in the morning and have the semen shipped for same day service or next day delivery to the mare’s destination where she is to be inseminated. We handle all the details including supplying the equitainers and handling the shipping.
Frozen Semen Collection, Evaluation, Processing and Shipment
Frozen Semen is another way to commercial supply insemination dosages to mare owners with several distinct advantages over fresh and shipped-cooled semen. First and foremost, the genetics of a valuable stallion can be preserved indefinitely by stockpiling doses of frozen semen in the off- season. Frozen semen can be sent to the mare breeding farm as soon as the contract or breeding agreement is signed, eliminating the need for same-day or overnight courier service, as is required with shipped-cooled semen. Semen can be thawed ‘on demand’ for breeding a mare with a history of unpredictable ovulation. Frozen semen also provides a good back-up in case the stallion cannot be collected, there are too many mares to breed on a given day, or if a shipment of cooled semen becomes lost in transit. Export of genetics is another valuable advantage of frozen semen.
Frozen Semen Storage and Distribution
Frozen Semen is another way to commercial supply insemination dosages to mare owners with several distinct advantages over fresh and shipped-cooled semen. First and foremost, the genetics of a valuable stallion can be preserved indefinitely by stockpiling doses of frozen semen in the off- season. Frozen semen can be sent to the
mare breeding farm as soon as the contract or breeding agreement is signed, eliminating the need for same-day or overnight courier service, as is required with shipped-cooled semen. Semen can be thawed ‘on demand’ for breeding a mare with a history of unpredictable ovulation. Frozen semen also provides a good back-up in case the stallion cannot be collected, there are too many mares to breed on a given day, or if a shipment of cooled semen becomes lost in transit. Export of genetics is another valuable advantage of frozen semen.
During the initial visit at Candlewood Equine, a stallion undergoes a complete breeding soundness evaluation in order to detect abnormalities that may interfere with fertility. The stallion’s semen is test frozen using different semen-freezing techniques to determine if the stallion is a “good freezer”. Our freezing program includes a post thaw analysis for motility to determine the best freezing extender for each individual stallion. Once the optimal freezing protocol is identified, the stallion is collected every other day until the desired number of breeding doses is obtained. The straws of semen are then stored in a liquid nitrogen tank at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius until thawed immediately prior to use.
Frozen semen straws are transported using a vapor shipper. A vapor shipper is “charged” by adding liquid nitrogen, but is actually dry when shipped. They can be shipped overnight to the mare owner and used at the optimum time for breeding. Another option is to have the vapor shipper sent well ahead of time to be transferred into another liquid nitrogen tank and stored until time of insemination.
As the stallion ages his semen quality will begin to deteriorate. We can help you manage the older stallion in order to prolong his fertile life. New techniques are available to concentrate and increase the motility of these older stallion’s semen.
Older stallions sometimes have difficulty in both libido and ability to mount a breeding phantom. We are experienced in training a stallion for ground collection thus eliminating the need for mounting a breeding phantom.
Stallion Training for Collection
Training the stallion to collect off a breeding phantom not only eliminates the need for the stallion to mount a mare in heat, but also reduces the potential for injury and disease transmission. We routinely train all stallions brought to us for use in a semen collection and shipping program on a breeding phantom. The phantom is fully adjustable to accommodate all stallion heights with safe, non-slip rubber footing. Special circumstances may dictate a ground collection method for stallions unable to jump onto a phantom.