Assisted reproduction has opened a whole new world to some horse breeders. A Kentucky mare who’s never left her home farm, for instance, could produce a foal from a European sire who’s competing at the top of his sport. And while artificial insemination isn’t a new concept, researchers are continually making advancements that improve the practice.

At the 2013 Western Veterinary Conference, held Feb. 17-21 in Las Vegas, Nev., Heath King, DVM, Dipl. ACT, an assistant clinical professor at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, reviewed some current hot topics in assisted equine reproduction with veterinary attendees.

Testicle Processing for Sperm Recovery

The death of a stallion with a bright stud career ahead of him can have a devastating economic impact on his owner. Fortunately, veterinarians and researchers have learned to recover sperm from recently deceased stallions’ epididymis (the duct that stores sperm as it matures).

Some veterinarians routinely freeze semen and have experience extracting epididymal sperm, but many prefer to harvest the stallion’s testicles and ship them to another facility for processing. While immediate sperm collection and processing is generally preferred, King noted that one study showed no change in motility of sperm harvested from testicles immediately and after 24 hours refrigeration in six of nine stallions.

According to King, there are several important steps practitioners should take during testicle processing:

  • Castrate the stallion either prior to or immediately after euthanasia or death;
  • Double