Breeding with Cooled Semen
By Dr. Juan C. Samper, DVM, PHD, DIPL. ACT
Q - I will be breeding my mare using cooled semen. Is there anything I can do to increase her chances of becoming pregnant on the first try?
A - Breeding with fresh semen (locally collected) or cooled semen (transported for a few hours) is no different than breeding by any other means. All mares must be examined to determine the stage of their cycles and that their uteri are in normal condition. If there is something that does not look right, then the mare should be examined for bacterial growth and inflammation by doing a culture and cytology. When all is normal, we must determine the ideal breeding time; with cooled semen, that is 12 to 24 hours before ovulation. Therefore, we must induce ovulation (give her a shot) about 12 hours prior to semen arrival.
The place where the semen is coming from is important. If it is coming from the US, the mare owner must apply for an import permit from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The permit is issued for the breeding season and it takes about three to five days. The original permit is sent to the collection or stallion station and the semen must arrive accompanied by the import permit as well as a health certificate signed by a federal US vet on the day of collection. This is all due to the presence of contagious equine metritis (CEM) in the US. If the semen is coming from Canada there is no need for paperwork, but proper communication with the collection center is critical. Make sure you try to avoid weekends and use a reliable courier so things are done properly. If everything is in order and the semen is of good quality, the chances of pregnancy are well over 50 per cent.
Due to importation complications, we have elected to recommend to our clients to inquire about frozen semen as that way we can ship the semen well in advance and there is no problem with timing. In the end it could be less expensive than the collection and shipping fees from the US.
This article was originally published in the April 2011 issue of Canadian Horse Journal.