Artificial Insemination: What’s New?

Precise timing and specialized tools are the mainstays of successful equine insemination.
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Precise timing and specialized tools are the mainstays of successful equine insemination

Thanks to ever-improving technology, breeders can rest assured there’s a good chance their artificially inseminated mares will have foals by their sides come spring. In addition to the fact that conception rates with artificial insemination (AI, as opposed to natural cover) have risen, more mares can be bred by stallions from afar and an increasing number of mares and/or stallions with marginal fertility are capable of producing offspring.

In this article we will explore the different AI breeding techniques (using fresh, cooled, and frozen semen) as well as new and existing methods to improve both mare and stallion fertility.

Forms of Semen

Fresh semen implies that semen was collected from the stallion, processed, and deposited in the mare immediately. "We presume that sperm from most stallions will remain viable in the mare’s reproductive tract for approximately 48 hours," says Pat McCue, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, associate professor of equine science at Colorado State University’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory. "Therefore, if we’re using freshly collected semen, we’d want the mare to ovulate within 48 hours after insemination. If she hasn’t ovulated within that interval, we collect semen again and reinseminate the mare

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Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses and Storey’s Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog, www.heathersmiththomas.blogspot.com, she writes a biweekly blog at https://insidestorey.blogspot.com that comes out on Tuesdays.

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