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One of the most important people in your breeding programme is the veterinary surgeon, whether it is for natural covering or artificial insemination.

From the time that you make the decision to put your mare in foal to the time that she actually gives birth a good vet will be a constant source of advice and information. A good relationship with your vet, based on mutual trust and respect is essential.

When deciding on the vet to use in your breeding programme discuss with them their areas of expertise; if you are really serious about breeding it pays to make sure that the vet you are using is up to date with modern reproductive techniques. It may be that you feel that your regular vet's knowledge of you and your mare is worth more than anything else and if this is the case then he is the person you should stick with. If not take his advice as to the best person for the job.

Once you have decided to put your mare in foal the first step should be to discuss this with your vet and arrange for a breeding examination to be carried out. This should involve an internal exam, possibly by ultrasound scan together with a CEM swab to ensure that your mare is suitable to breed from and has no infections. Assuming that your vet gives you the all clear now is the time to decide on how you are going to breed your mare. There are 3 options open to you;

1. You can send your mare away to stud for natural service

2. You can send your mare away to stud for artificial insemination

3. You can use chilled or frozen semen and either keep your mare at home or send her to a veterinary clinic for monitoring and insemination

If you are planning to use artificial insemination it may be a good idea to have your vet monitor you mare through her first cycle. With palpation or ultrasound scan your vet can more accurately predict when to inseminate the mare. Timing is critical and you need to be aware of what stage your mare is at in order to optimise the chances of getting a conception. Knowing how your mare cycles allows you to order chilled semen so that it arrives at the right time for the insemination of your mare. If you decide to use frozen semen arrangements can be made in plenty of time so that the semen is ready and waiting when the mare is about to ovulate.

In the long run it is cheaper to spend a little more money on your mares first cycle than to wait until she didn't conceive. By this time you've spent money and time on collection fees, shipping fees, have nothing to show for it and you've lost a month.

You will need to talk to your vet about pregnancy checks by ultrasound. A check at 16 days will tell you if your mare has conceived. This will give you peace of mind if she is, or more time to prepare for another insemination if she is not. An ultrasound at around 28 days will check to be sure she has not absorbed the fetes. If she has twinned the situation can be monitored until the 28 day scan at which point if one twin has not resorbed naturally then your vet can do something about it. Any later than 28 days and an injection is needed to get rid of the twins and you then risk your mare not coming back into season.

Recent studies indicate that too many palpations can lower conception rates. So don't over do it. You may actually be doing more harm than good.

Whilst your vet is providing you with a service which you pay for it is reasonable for him to ask for a certain standard of co-operation from you as the client. When arranging for routine visits such as pregnancy scans you should give as much notice as possible, if you can work out a schedule of visits based on insemination or covering dates so much the better. Always have the mare ready for the vet when he arrives; make sure that she is clean and tail bandaged. If possible have her in stable or better still stocks, and make sure that you have a safe place for the scanner to be positioned. Remember that in order for the scanner to work you need a source of electricity! Make sure that you have a supply of warm water available as the vet will wish to clean both himself and the equipment.

It is important that you let the vet know if there are likely to be any problems in handling your mare. Your vet's livelihood is dependent upon his being able to work and an injury sustained in the course of work can seriously affect this. By developing and maintaining a good relationship with your vet then if a time comes when you have an emergency you will know that you can rely on him absolutely.

This article is kindly provided by the AI Centre.
For further information please visit their website -click here
The AI Centre
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