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Prior to making a decision regarding artificial insemination (AI) as the preferred method of breeding your mare, please consider the following:
I. The staff and doctors at our hospital will need you to follow a protocol designed to give us the optimal chance of a successful breeding.
II. It is not uncommon to have to breed a normal, healthy mare more than once to accomplish a successful breeding.
III. Semen quality plays an integral part of successful breeding
I. Protocol for AI at Red Oak Animal Hospital
A.) Make an appointment for an initial reproductive exam. This usually includes a palpation/ultrasound exam of the reproductive tract and a uterine culture/cytology. If the reproductive history suggests that the mare has had difficulty in getting pregnant or maintaining the pregnancy, the doctor may include a uterine biopsy. If your mare is not in estrus, the doctor will determine the best method to initiate estrus which will assist in synchronizing the time of breeding with all of our schedules (the mare, breeding farm, and hospitalization at Red Oak).
B.) Please call or FAX the necessary information regarding phone numbers and personnel in charge of the semen collection at the breeding farm. We will call the breeding farm to inform them of the estimated time of breeding and later the time we will need a semen shipment.
C.) Please call and reserve a stall at our facility as soon as we advise you when to expect the first signs of estrus. The mare will have to arrive at Red Oak during the first days of estrus. You must be aware of the signs of estrus in a mare. If you are unable to recognize estrus in your mare, we can usually estimate when to expect to hospitalize the mare based upon our initial exam. The mare will ovulate within 5-7 days of the first signs of estrus. It is essential that the mare is palpated daily to allow us to stage the size of the follicles and to contact the breeding farm within 24-48 hours of the estimated time of ovulation. Occasionally a mare will not ovulate when we predict, or the quality of the semen is not adequate and a second shipment of semen is needed for insemination. Following insemination the mare will need to stay until we verify that she has ovulated. It is feasible that your mare may have to remain hospitalized for 5-7 days.
D.) The use of frozen semen vs chilled semen will be unique in a couple of ways. The frozen semen shipment will be arranged for prior to breeding and we will store the semen in our nitrogen tank until breeding. When the mare is in the clinic during her cycle to be breed we will closely monitor her follicles. When ovulation is imminent we will check her every 8 hours to insure the most successful breeding. Another difference is that after ovulation and breeding with frozen semen we must keep the mare for 48 hours to check for fluid in the uterus. This condition sometimes occurs with the use of frozen semen. If it does occur we will treat accordingly. Regardless frozen semen mares are usually ready to go home around 48 hours after ovulation/breeding. There are some increased cost with frozen semen and to the difference in techniques and aftercare.
E.) If the mare requires post-breeding infusion of antibiotics or additional hormonal treatments (oxytocin or HCG injections). The bill will reflect these additional costs and you will be readily informed of any drastic change in your expected estimate.
F.) Unless otherwise advised by the breeding farm, the semen containers will be shipped next-day mail as soon after breeding as possible and you will be required to pay this additional shipping cost.
G.) Prior to discharge or shortly after returning to the farm, please call and schedule appointment for the mare’s 15-17 day pregnancy ultrasound. If the mare is not pregnant and you intend to rebreed her, we do not want to miss her next ovulation by waiting too many days prior to verification of pregnancy. Some mares will exhibit signs of estrus even though they are pregnant. This procedure can be performed at your farm or at the hospital.
H.) If the mare is pregnant we recommend that the pregnancy is documented by ultrasound or palpation at both 30 and 60 days. Once again this procedure can be performed at the hospital or on the farm. Please make your appointments as soon as the 15-17 day pregnancy is verified.
II. Each mare and each breeding situation is unique; as a result the veterinary costs per breeding will vary. Usually the costs per breeding range from $500.00 to $700.00.
III. The majority of reputable breeding operations work in close association with an equine veterinarian. Sometimes the person collecting, extending and shipping the semen is a veterinarian. We examine the semen prior to each breeding. Usually the quality of the semen is satisfactory, but occasionally we recognize problems with viability, motility, or concentrations. Please keep in mind these are set-backs which are sometimes out of our control.