Early detection of pregnancy in mares is strongly demanded by owners in order to maximize breeding efficiency and economic investment. The most reliable and earliest available tool for conceptus detection is ultrasonography. Other diagnostics include palpation per rectum and hormonal blood tests (i.e. estrone sulfate in serum or urine; equine chorionic gonadotropin in serum) as these methods are useful when examination by ultrasound (per rectum or transabdominally) is not possible or feasible.
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Use of Ultrasonography for Pregnancy Diagnosis in the Horse
Breeding Soundness Exam of the Mare
To evaluate a mare's potential for reproductive success or failure, veterinarians often perform a "breeding soundness examination" (BSE). As the breeding season approaches, many owners may opt for a pre-breeding BSE to identify and address any potential reproductive issues prior to breeding. This examination is invaluable for estimating the likelihood of a mare successfully conceiving, carrying a pregnancy to term, and delivering a healthy foal. Pre-breeding examinations are usually performed early in the breeding season when the mare has just begun to cycle or, at the very least, is not in anestrus. Furthermore, the BSE provides veterinarians and owners with important information to determine whether a particular mare should carry a foal herself or whether she might better serve as an embryo or oocyte donor, as well as what breeding strategies are most appropriate for the individual mare.
Intrafollicular Oocyte Transfer in the Mare
In the equine breeding industry, many different assisted reproduction techniques (ARTs) are widely used to aid the management of equine reproduction. ARTs provide options to owners looking to obtain embryos from genetically valuable mares and/or stallions for whom conventional breeding management strategies are insufficient. This article provides a concise summary of several common ARTs, as well as information regarding innovative techniques just entering clinical use.