Linseed Oil, Vitamin E Help Improve Cooled Semen Quality

Adding these supplements to stallions’ diets could help counteract the phenomenon of lower sperm quality in the winter.
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Linseed Oil, Vitamin E Help Improve Cooled Semen Quality
Researchers recently determined that adding these supplements to stallions’ diets could help counteract the phenomenon of lowered sperm quality typically seen in the early breeding season—at least for cool-stored semen. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
If your stallion breeds throughout the winter, you might consider adding linseed oil and vitamin E to his diet to help ensure good semen quality. Researchers recently determined that adding these supplements to stallions’ diets could help counteract the phenomenon of lowered sperm quality typically seen in the early breeding season—at least for cool-stored semen.

This is particularly important given that many mares bred early in the year have infertility issues of their own, said Christine Aurich, DVM, PhD, head of the Graf Lehndorff Institute for Equine Science, in Neustadt, Germany.

“A mare’s fertility is not automatically lower early in the breeding season,” Aurich said. “But mares that are bred early in the year are often barren mares, meaning they have not conceived the year before or they lost their pregnancy. We know that this is a sign of impaired fertility. Therefore, many mares bred early in the season may have a lower fertility with regard to their breeding history. So these mares should be bred with high-quality semen.”

But those same mares often receive lower-quality sperm due to seasonal changes in quality, Aurich said. The semen cooling and freezing processes can easily damage the sperm membrane. Researchers have noted that the damage is more pronounced during the early breeding season, reaching a peak around February

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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