INSEMINATING YOUR MARE WITH FROZEN SEMEN
 
When considering frozen semen for your breeding program, there are several factors you must weigh before deciding to proceed.

ADVANTAGES of frozen semen include all those attributed to artificial insemination and transported semen. These are cleanliness, safety, stress reduction by keeping mares and foals home or close by and access to a greater variety of stallions. Since the semen is frozen and stored, it can be ordered ahead of time so that it is on hand when the mare needs to be bred. There should be no shipping "rush" as sometimes occurs with fresh cooled transport.

DISADVANTAGES involve increased management which results in increased costs. The processing of semen for freezing weakens the sperm cell thus success is less than that of fresh or fresh cooled semen. This weakened state results in the need for critical timing of insemination necessary for success. Additional palpations are required to pinpoint ovulation, uterine flushing post insemination due to the inflammatory response in some mares may be necessary.  Ultrasonography is generally necessary to check the progress of follicular development. All of this tends to drive up costs substantially resulting in two to three times the cost of fresh cooled management.

MARE HISTORY. Is your mare a good candidate for frozen semen? Aged mares with poor reproductive histories are not good candidates. For instance, a mare who has been "open" for an extended period is not a good candidate. We suggest a breeding soundness evaluation before you even consider purchasing frozen semen. This evaluation should include a culture, biopsy and ultrasound evaluation of the reproductive tract. Even with all of this, many older mares do not possess good uterine contractility. What does this mean? Mares produce uterine fluids as a matter of course during their cycles. Excess fluid is squeezed out of the uterus at intervals throughout the mare's heat cycle. When using frozen semen, additional fluid production can be incurred in some mares due to inflammation simply as a result of breeding itself. If an older mare's uterine contractility is poor, uterine pooling of fluid may develop. We can diagnose this pooling by use of ultrasonography. If fluid is discovered, we must help that mare clear out the fluid. We can do this by administering oxytocin or flushing the uterus or a combination of the two. You can see why the decision to use frozen semen must be a careful one.

If you have bred a mare with transported fresh cooled semen, then you are familiar with "appointment breeding." You know that in order to be successful you must have your mare palpated regularly by your veterinarian during her cycle so that insemination can take place close to ovulation. This precision is taken a step further with frozen semen. Inseminations must occur within 6 to 8 hours prior to or post ovulation with frozen semen. To accomplish this degree of precision, your mare may be checked via rectal palpation and/or ultrasonography as frequently as every 6 hours once her follicle grows over 30 millimeters and begins to soften. 

Our job is to help you make a decision on whether to use fresh cooled or frozen semen. Give us a call and we will be glad to discuss your options.

 

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