Broodmares require a large financial and time commitment! Before making the decision to breed, owners should carefully evaluate their reasons for breeding, while working alongside their vet to determine if the mare is a suitable candidate.
Horses are classically described as being ‘long day seasonal breeders’. Most mares are acyclical, ie the reproductive tract is inactive, during short days (winter, non-breeding season), and cycle regularly during long days (summer, breeding season). In between periods of cyclicity and acyclicity (in spring and autumn), mares experience two ‘transitional’ periods, during which they may cycle erratically. The timing of assessment of fertility depends upon the reason for carrying out the examination. Broodmare management plays a vital role to a successful fertile outcome, and vets should be familiar with an individual mare’s cyclical characteristics.
The main objectives of managing a broodmares reproductive function is to maximize fertility, minimize risk to the mare or stallion, control the incidence of infection, ensure the efficient use of the stallion and minimize neonatal losses. Major obstacles to these objectives include the fact that mares are seasonal breeders, and in some breeds are required to be in full ovulatory estrus before the natural onset of their seasonal cyclical activity. Broodmares undergo a number of ancillary tests and extra management procedures to increase the likelihood of producing a live foal. Routine, logic and consistent reproductive monitoring of individual mares on stud farms is an essential part of modern management.
The full breeding history of a broodmare should include a year by year account of previous foals, incidence of early embryonic loss, twinning, abortion, cycling idiosyncrasies, eg silent heats, and previous uterine infections especially venereal diseases. If in foal, skeletal problems of the pelvis should also be recorded. Records should also detail important information gleaned from the history, and include a physical examination, teasing behavior, results of a reproductive examination, results of laboratory tests, breeding dates, pre- and post-breeding treatments, and results of ultrasonographic examinations.
Watch The Webinar Vet’s webinar on Broodmare management by Madeleine Campbell BVetMed(Hons) MA(Oxon) MA(Keele) PhD DipECAR DipECAWBM(AWSEL) MRCVS on the 12th December at 8pm.
For further information on Broodmare management check out this related content available on Vetlexicon Equis:
- Abortion: overview
- Female: anestrus during ovulatory season
- Female: genitalia – external examination
- Female: minimal contamination breeding technique
- Female: prolonged diestrus
- Female: vaginoscopy
- Reproduction: foaling management