At this time of year we breeders get itchy to get started on the breeding season at hand. This is one of those instances when haste truly makes waste. Here is a check list before getting down to business:
1) Good Condition
Consider supplementation w/ a natural immune system supplement (Immunoll is a product we have found extremely helpful for subfertile mares), red raspberry leaves, Angus Castus (Vitex) products, and/or supplements high in Fatty Acids (especially Omega 3s, such as the fish oil product from KER called EO3) to help augment your mare’s fertility.
Watch her haircoat: make sure she’s shed out at least 1/3 of her hair coat before you breed her. This is a good indication that her endocrine system thinks, “whoo hoo it’s spring.”
3) Vaccs worming out of the way
Make sure to get all vaccinations and worming out of the way prior to breeding so that your mares’ immune system isn’t stressed by these things during breeding and/or the early stages of pregnancy.
4) Chart her estrus behavior
Simply charting of your mare estrus behavior can be the biggest help to planning ultrasound or culture cytology appts. This information can also reveal whether your mare is cycling normally or is still transitional. Many MOs say their mare doesn’t tease and/or they don’t have a teaser. Oftentimes patient observation will reveal behavioral differences which signify being in heat. Also many mares who supposedly don’t tease will tease to another mare.
5) Culture and Cytology
Beware! A culture alone can give a false negative or false positive. Even if she’s a maiden, PLEASE, get first and foremost a uterine cytology if not a culture to go along with it. If you are cost conscious (who isn’t these days?), have your vet pull a cytology and culture. If the cyto (Cytology) looks good, don’t run the culture. If the cyto is questionable in any way, run the culture. NOTE: Make sure to schedule this procedure while she’ll be in heat. If the mare is in diesturus or worst anestrus, your vet will be unable to get the swab safely through the cervix. In this case, it’s very possible to pick up contaminants which can cause a false positive on the culture.
5) Arrange the Blind Date
Make sure you have “Mr. Right” picked out and that you understand the SO’s contract requirements, time/day when it will be necessary to order semen, days of collection, and any info relating to the semen that is necessary to know in order to have a positive experience (IE semen longevity for that stallion, etc.)
6) Transitional Estrus?
Before getting down to business, have your vet make certain (via ultrasound) that your mare is not in transitional estrus and that she has had AT LEAST one normal ovulation. Any attempt at manipulating your mare’s cycle before this has happened is futile. Likewise, even if your mare has ovulated but remains in transitional estrus, you might have a hard time coordinating ordering semen on a timely basis which could easily result in multiple collections for that one cycle (needlessly costly!) and /or futile attempt at getting her in foal. In this situation, haste truly makes waste.
So here are 6 little ducks to have all in row …