Early demise due to illness or injury can shorten a mare’s reproductive career. Additionally, subfertility can also have a negative impact on a mare’s ability to produce a foal. There have been a multitude of advances in the past 20 years that have allowed for the preservation of genetics in mares. Techniques such as transvaginal ultrasound-guided oocyte aspiration (TVA) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) have allowed us to produce embryos in vitro, circumvent subfertility in mares, and preserve genetics from mares that have died.
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Trends in Equine Assisted Reproduction
It has been almost 20 years since I started an assisted reproduction program at Colorado state University. The purpose of that program was to develop techniques to preserve equine genetics. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss all the goals of that program but I would like to focus on production of foals from old mares and stallions via in vitro technology (aka test tube horse).
Ovum Pickup in the Mare
Breeding horses has come a long ways in the last 50 years. Veterinarians have been able to overcome many of the obstacles presented when breeding horses with advancements in artificial insemination and embryo transfer. However, there are still times when infertility of either the mare, stallion or both prevent getting foals on the ground. The most recent advances in assisted reproductive technologies, Ovum Pickup and Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), have allowed us at Weatherford Equine Breeding Center (WEBC) to take the next step in overcoming these obstacles with some promising results.