Equine Reproductive Services
Ultrasound is a safe and painless non evasive way to detect pregnancy. It can be used for a variety of things in the veterinarian field, however for repro uses we can use the sound waves to detect objects and create an image we can see and measure distances. Creston Large Animal has the equipment for your ultrasound needs.
Breeding your mare can be an extremely exciting time… it also can be overwhelming at times. The process is at times frustrating if you encounter fertility issues, and can be expensive even when everything goes perfectly. After your mare is bred, routine ultrasound exams should be scheduled.
The following is a list of exams that Creston Large Animal recommends to insure a healthy pregnancy and allows you to determine when to give your mare the pre foal shots:
- Day 15- This will be your mare’s first pregnancy check. The embryo will look like a small fluid round structure. It’s good to know and identify a pregnancy so you know whether or not to rebreed, and to make sure you don’t have twins.
- Day 25- There should be a recognizable fetus and visible fetal membrane. A heartbeat can also be heard.
- Day 45- By day 45 endometrial cups have formed and attachment to the uterus. These cups secrete hormones that stimulate the ovaries to produce progesterone which maintains the pregnancy. If the pregnancy is lost after this point, the endometrial cups will stay and the mare will not return to a normal estrous cycle until they fall off around day 120. This exam lets our staff at Creston Large Animal know that all is well at this critical point and if the mare is open to determine if it is safe to be rebred.
- Day 60 after this time period your mare should stay in foal and be to the point where it looks like the mare can carry to full term. Also if the fetus is sitting in the right orientation gender can be determined; however, it cannot be guaranteed.
Ovulation, Follicular Growth
Predicting the ovulation of a mare can be an unpredictable process and a great cause of frustration. Monitoring ovulation cycles and follicular growth will make sure things are on track.
Helpful hints when breeding your mare.
- Mares come in heat and cycle every 21 days.
- Ultrasound is used to follow ovulation and follicular growth.
- An ultrasound for your mare can detect when she comes in heat and when exactly she will ovulate. This also comes in handy in deciding when to execute breeding, or determine when you will need to Artificually Inseminate. If your mare shows any sign of heat with in the 21 days again, you may need to recheck and/or rebreed.
- It’s good to ultrasound your mare for follicular growth just to make sure things are on the right track. For example you may have two embryos that got bred - it’s not healthy for your mare or the foals to let twins carry to full term, you may need to extract one for the safety of the pregnancy and your mare.
Artificial insemination of equines has been around a long time, and through the years it has had a huge impact on the horse industry. Most of the impact has been positive - it allows horse owners to breed to any horse in the industry without owning and caring for their own personal stallion. It’s a win win for the industry.
Here are several reasons why AI is so beneficial for the industry:
- Permits disease control.
- Reduces the possibility of injury to the mare and/or stallion.
- Permits use of stallions which have developed poor breeding habits or have been injured.
- Permits evaluation of semen at each collection and immediate recognition of minor changes in seminal quality.
- Aid in identification of reproductive problems.
- Prevents overuse of a stallion, particularly early in the breeding season, and enables mares to be bred at the most opportune time for maximum chance of reproduction.
- Permits breeding of abnormal mares which could not be used in natural service.
- Permits more effective use of older, more valuable stallions.
- Increases the genetic pool and permits progeny testing.
- Results in higher pregnancy rates than natural service.
Breeding Soundness Exam
Breeding soundness exams give owners an idea of the animal's breeding potential before entering the breeding shed.
- For Mares - If you’re planning on breeding your mare it might be a good idea to do a breeding soundness exam. If the mare is older or has had problems getting in foal right away or on her foal heat there might be a reason for it. There are several problems you can run into when breeding your horse so the more we stay on top of things the more we can insure a healthy foal in 11 months. Some common things we detect in a breeding soundness exam is cysts that effect pregnancy often in the uterine system, this can simply be seen with an ultrasound. Another common problem is the retention of fluid in the uterus from various reasons like infection or idiopathic endometritis. Stallions can carry diseases irritating the uterus enough to cause endometritis. The mare might need a simple flush to get rid of the fluid and then she can be bred again. Creston Large Animal can help you deliver a healthy foal with the proper care.
- For Stallions - It’s a good idea to have a breeding soundness exam done on your stallion before he breeds mares, whether via artificial insemination or live cover. Overall health is critical to a stallion's reproductive success, a stallion must be in good physical condition and not overweight or underweight at the start of the season. If a stallion has too much or not enough weight it might show a decrease in the sperm quality. For a proper exam it’s a good idea to collect several days in a row to stabilize sperm output. Creston Large Animal can conduct a breeding soundness exam on the stallion to see how feral he is.
A breeding soundness exam measures:
- Motility. It measures how many sperm move in a straight line across a field. Owners should make sure their stallions are over 50% as much below this can be a problem.
- Total number of sperm in the ejaculate. This will vary according to a variety of things. Look for sperm count in the 10 to 20 billion per ejaculate range.
- Testicle size. Testicles can be measured either with ultrasound to measure volume or plastic calipers to measure width. This should be done several times a year to measure relative changes in size.
- Bacterial shedding. A horse can be physically healthy and still shed bacteria, so take swabs from the urethra, semen, and prepuce for bacterial cultures.
- Morphology. Generally more than 50% of the sperm should be morphologically normal.