There are a number of misconceptions about frozen semen that are pervasive in the horse breeding community and one of them relates to the relative costs of frozen vs. cooled semen. We have heard horror stories of mare owners spending thousands of dollars purchasing and then trying to get mares in foal with frozen semen only to end the season with an open mare. Then there are also stories of stallion owners investing large sums of money freezing semen that is of poor quality or doesn’t result in pregnancies. Many of these nightmares are the result of lack of quality control on the semen that is put on the commercial market and/or proficiency of the lab or technician that is freezing the semen. Poor quality semen, whether fresh, cooled or frozen will result in wasted money, empty mares and unhappy breeders. This article will present objective information on the true costs of using frozen semen so that stallion and mare owners can make informed decisions.
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Should the US Adopt Stricter Controls on Cooled and Frozen Semen Production Facilities?
In the United States there are very few regulations concerning the collection, processing, distribution and insemination of stallion semen. Any owner who can manage to extract semen from his or her stallion can without any prior training, experience, certification or license, sell semen from that stallion without restriction of any kind. There are only a few individual states that require certain testing for diseases potentially transmitted in semen but in most cases there is no requirement for such screening within the breeding population in the U.S. The USDA has regulations concerning the importation of semen and breeding animals into the U.S. from other countries but there is no USDA oversight to regulate the horse breeding industry within the borders of the country. This is also true in many other countries as well.
Questions Mare Owners Should Ask Before Breeding With Frozen Semen
Frozen semen offers many advantages to mare owners but it is important to understand that not all frozen semen is the same. You can achieve excellent results with frozen semen IF the semen is of good quality, is provided in adequate numbers and has been processed, stored and shipped properly. All too often mare owners and veterinarians have been disappointed with the results they obtained with frozen semen that may not have been processed properly or was distributed without adhering to strict standards for quality control. The best way for a mare owner to ensure success is to breed to a stallion whose owner or agent is willing to stand behind the product and offer a pregnancy guarantee, just like they would with cooled semen. If that is not the case then make sure that the semen was collected and frozen by a reputable, professional laboratory and that you can obtain objective information about the semen quality. Here are some important questions to ask the stallion owner or semen agent before you sign a contract.