Collecting Ovaries From Deceased Mares for Embryo Production

Traditionally when a mare died, her gene pool often went with her. This isn’t always the case these days, however.

No account yet? Register


Gardeners speak of heirloom seeds for the genetic preservation of a plant species. Horsemen selectively breed, thus preserving a mare’s bloodlines. But when the mare dies or must be euthanized, that genetic pool normally dies with her.

Scientific advances can now come to the rescue, though the cost—at least $1,975 up to when the egg meets the sperm—can be prohibitive for many owners. In layman-speak, this genetic rescue means the dead mare’s ovaries can be removed, then processed, an egg “bred” in a petri dish, then transferred to a recipient mare to carry the foal.

Jennifer Hatzel, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, is a theriogenologist—a veterinarian specializing in reproduction—at Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory, in Fort Collins. She explained to attendees of the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida, that a successful outcome depends on many elements, from the mare’s age and illness to the careful handling and shipping of oocytes.

Here’s the process. The clock starts ticking the moment the mare dies. The ovaries need to be removed ASAP and arrive to the assisted reproductive technology facility within six to eight hours for the best chance at success. With the mare on her side, the veterinarian makes an incision halfway between her last rib and her hip. Carefully avoiding the bowel, the veterinarian reaches into the abdominal cavity, finding each ovary and cutting it out

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Maureen Gallatin is a freelance writer, founder of Horses on a Mission, and author of the inspirational devotional, An Extra Flake.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What lameness issues has your horse experienced? Select all that apply.
249 votes · 499 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!