Understanding Breeding Soundness Exams for Stallions

Breeding soundness exams should include a physical exam, a genitalia exam, a libido exam, and a semen exam.
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Before breeding a stallion, there’s one crucial step that should be performed: the breeding soundness examination. According to one veterinarian, this relatively simple evaluation can give stallion managers a good look at an animal’s breeding potential before he even hits the breeding shed. Unfortunately, he added, this step is often overlooked.  During a presentation at the 2012 Western Veterinary Conference, held Feb. 19-23 in Las Vegas, Nev., Walter Threlfall, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACT, a consulting theriogenologist (reproductive specialist) from Powell, Ohio, and professor emeritus in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, discussed what’s involved in a stallion’s breeding soundness examination and why it’s an important step in managing breeding stallions.

When assessing a stallion for breeding purposes, Threlfall recommended starting with a detailed case history and general physical examination, followed by a thorough genitalia assessment and analysis of the horse’s libido and semen.

History–Has the stallion been used for breeding? What is the intended use (natural cover or artificial insemination)? How many mares is the horse expected to breed? Are there any underlying medical issues? Threlfall said a thorough history will help the veterinarian evaluate a stallion’s breeding suitability to the expected breeding program

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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