Owning an animal, be it a household pet, horses, or livestock can be wonderfully rewarding. There are times, however, when the responsibility of animal ownership requires the consultation of a veterinarian to ensure the health and well being of your animals or livestock. Most of these appointments will be for routine care, whereas other visits may require specialized services, like lameness diagnosis, surgery or reproductive management. Many horse owners use different veterinarians or vet clinics depending upon the services they require. However, those in more isolated or rural areas may be limited to a general practice veterinarian who routinely works with all species, being neither an equine or reproduction specialist. A breeder can still be equally successful in both situations, so long as they are prepared and have done their research to find the best veterinarian available to suit their needs.
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Hastening the Onset of the Breeding Season
The horse is a seasonal breeder meaning that natural mating occurs during certain times of the year to ensure that the timing of birth is optimal for survival with regard to ambient temperature, food and water availability, and even changes in the predation behaviors of other species. Alternative breeding behaviors used by animals include opportunistic breeders that mate whenever the conditions of their environment become favorable and continuous breeders that mate year-round. Seasonal breeders are controlled by the length of daylight, i.e. the photoperiod, and can be divided into long day breeders, e.g. the horse, that start cycling when the days get longer (spring) and short day breeders, e.g. deer, that start cycling when the days get shorter (fall). The length of photoperiod can be manipulated in order to hasten the onset of the breeding season. This is a popular management technique used in Thoroughbred breeding, so foals can be born as close to the standardized January 1st birth date as possible. It is also common with show or halter horses, with the goal being to maximize maturity for age determined competition.
My Mare is Not Pregnant - What Now?
If you bred your mare last year and were unable to get her in foal, you are not alone. According to The Jockey Club, 44,184 mares were bred in North America in 2010 of these only 23,558 live foals were registered in 2011. A stallion with good semen quality, a mare with a healthy reproductive tract and properly timed inseminations are three critical elements that must align to maximize your chance of success. If you are looking to improve your odds for the 2013 breeding season, Dr. Holly Mason from Unionville Equine Associates outlines some things you might consider doing now to prepare for the upcoming season.
Breeding Mares on Foal Heat
Breeding mares on their foal heat is a strategy used to maximize reproductive efficiency. Since income is generated from selling offspring, yearly foal production is critical to offset maintenance and breeding expenses incurred by the mare owner. With an average gestational length of 333 to 345 days, mares must become pregnant within one month post partum to continue producing foals each year. Mating mares on the first postpartum estrus is one method used to improve the chance of maintaining yearly foal production. Reviewing this topic for us is guest writer, Dr. Margo Macpherson with an excerpt from the chapter Breeding Mares on Foal Heat co-authored by Dr. Margo Macpherson and Dr. Terry Blanchard in the 2nd Edition of Equine Reproduction.
Preparing Your Mare For Breeding
There are many factors to consider before you breed your mare. This Q&A with reproduction specialist, Dr Karen Wolfsdorf of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute will help you be prepared. Questions answered include - Where do I start if I want to breed my mare?, Why do I need to get my mare examined by a veterinarian?, What does a pre-breeding exam include?, What can be done if my veterinarian finds a problem at the pre-breeding exam?, How should my mare be prepared for mating? and When do I find out if my mare is pregnant?