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Breeding with cooled semen

Scott Madill , DVM, University of Minnesota

As a mare owner, cooled semen gives you access to stallions all over the country, and to some extent internationally. In addition to the stud fee, most stallion owners charge fees per shipment, typically $250 and up, making it within your interest to only ship once per cycle when possible. Since cooled semen is only viable for about 48 hours after collection, in order to achieve a single shipment breeding you need to closely monitor your mare and have a clear understanding of the stallion's shipping schedule. When looking at your breeding contract there are several things you need to take note of:

  1. Which days does he collect? For Quarter horses and Paints, it is common for stallions to collect every-other-day from February 15 to July 15; others may be on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule and still others might collect any day they are needed.
  2. How far in advance do you need to order? For most horses you need to place your order for semen the day before he is collected, a few will allow you to call the morning of (typically by 8 a.m.).
  3. How is the semen shipped? If they ship FedEx or UPS you will get it the day after collection. With counter-counter shipment you can pick it up at a local airport the same day as collection (typically late afternoon or evening), but it typically costs more and someone has to go to the airport. If the stallion is collected on a weekend then counter-counter is your only option for those days.
  4. Does the stallion have any times when he won't be available? Sometimes a stallion will be unavailable in a window of time if he is off at a show, so you will need to schedule your mare around this. Monitoring your mare is best done by a veterinarian using ultrasound. When she starts her cycle, an initial exam will decide when she needs to be checked again based on the size of her follicle and the amount of edema in her uterus. Generally, once she develops good edema and has a follicle over 35 mm in diameter it is time to think about ordering semen. If the breeding was timed well, the mare is young and healthy, and the stallion is fertile and a "good shipper" you should expect at least a 60% pregnancy rate. If your mare is not pregnant she should be ready to come back into heat in approximately two weeks and the process can be started over again.
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