10 Steps for Successful Live Cover
Before you breed au naturel, consider these tips.
Despite the widespread success of artificial insemination (AI), natural mating–or “live cover”–continues to be a popular choice for many equine breeders. This is partly due to live cover requirements for breed registries such as The Jockey Club for Thoroughbreds, and partly a matter of practicality or preference. But whatever your reason for choosing live cover, the following 10 tips will be useful as you plan a breeding program.
1. Know the risks of live cover
The image of au naturel might seem serene, but live cover comes with a host of risks that you won’t find with artificial insemination.
With live cover, the stallion’s full ejaculate is introduced into the mare’s uterus. This represents much greater volumes of semen than with AI, and it is often accompanied by bacteria such as Streptococcus zooepidemicus. According to Andrew McGladdery, BVMS, CertESM, MRCVS, veterinary surgeon at Rossdale & Partners in Newmarket, U.K., these bacteria usually present no challenges for healthy mares, but they can create problems in susceptible mares (those that have difficulty clearing fluid from the uterus, which can result in excessive inflammation). This can be even more problematic if the mare is bred more than once in a
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