Thinking Outside the Breeding Shed

Infertile mare? Deceased stallion? No problem! Equine reproduction is now high-tech enough to overcome these hurdles.
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Thinking Outside the Breeding Shed
Artificial insemination was the first frontier of advanced reproduction techniques and remains a mainstay. | Photo Credit: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Infertile mare? Deceased stallion? No problem! Equine reproduction has become high-tech enough to overcome these hurdles and more

Over the past three decades horse breeding has migrated from the farm to the laboratory. Clinical facilities now serve as the backdrop for many equine reproduction efforts—particularly those involving poor fertility or difficulty sustaining a pregnancy. In fact, nowadays neither the mare nor the stallion even have to be present or alive to produce healthy offspring.

The following is an overview of available and forthcoming technologies for horse breeders dedicated to overcoming the most daunting odds to produce that special foal.

The Stallion Side

Since the advent of modern artificial insemination (AI) in the 1970s and the improved art of shipping cooled and frozen semen a few years later, there have been few major new high-tech procedures introduced for breeding stallions. That said, researchers continue to look for ways to improve sperm quality and approaches for cooling, freezing, storing, and shipping semen—particularly from stallions whose semen doesn’t respond well to one or more of these procedures

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Written by:

Marian Carpenter, a lifelong horsewoman and writer, is executive director of the Texas Equine Veterinary Association. She lives with her family and equine friends near Amarillo, Texas.

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