Embryo Transfer in Chronically Infertile Mares, AAEP 2008

Embryo transfer is a management procedure for producing foals by mares that either are in training or have reproduction problems. In some cases the goal is to allow young performing mares to reproduce while continuing their careers. In other cases the donor mare might be afflicted with a reproductive problem, such as chronic uterine infection or a cervical laceration, that does not allow her
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Management of Embryo Donor Mares with Chronic Infertility was the title of an in-depth presentation by John Hurtgen, DVM, Dipl. ACT, of Nandi Veterinary Associates in New Freedom, Pa., at the 2008 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 6-10 in San Diego, Calif. He said embryo transfer is a management procedure for producing foals by mares that either are in training or have reproduction problems. In some cases the goal is to allow young performing mares to reproduce while continuing their careers. In other cases the donor mare might be afflicted with a reproductive problem, such as chronic uterine infection or a cervical laceration, that does not allow her to carry a foal to term.

In one challenging case discussed by Hurtgen, a 12-year-old Standardbred mare was referred to his clinic for embryo transfer. The mare had undergone a unilateral ovariectomy (removal) of the right ovary as the result of a granulosa cell tumor (the most common type of ovarian tumor; it secretes hormones). The right uterine horn also was removed at the same time because of a similar condition.

Hurtgen said: "Mares that are missing a uterine horn because of congenital (born with it) anomaly, surgical removal, or occluding luminal adhesions of a uterine horn are unable to carry a foal to term or, with the aid of altrenogest or progesterone, may carry a foal to term but deliver a very undersized foal."

During the five years following the mare's arrival at the clinic, Hurtgen said, embryo transfer was performed in the wake of artificial insemination. During those years the mare suffered from several problems, including uterine fluid accumulation after insemination

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Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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