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Tips to Prepare Your Mare for Breeding

Breeding your mare can be an exciting—and lucrative—endeavor. However, the breeding process is also an investment in your mare as well as a costly endeavor. Not only do you need to ensure certain health concerns are taken care of, but you also will need to order several tests from your equine veterinarian to make sure that your mare is healthy enough to breed at this time. Following are more tips to help prepare your mare for breeding.

Review the Mare’s Overall Health

The mare should be in good general condition before breeding.  There should be no outstanding health issues and no signs or symptoms that anything might be wrong. Look for things like whether the mare’s behavior is normal.

Is she eating normally? Do her hooves appear to be in good condition? Is she up to date on vaccinations? Check fecal matter for the presence of parasites. Consider her weight. Mare’s over or below average weight could have problems. You should be able to feel the ribs, but not see them. Are the teeth in good condition?

Schedule a Breeding Soundness Exam

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A breeding soundness exam is conducted by a licensed equine veterinarian. It specifically checks for certain things in relation to soundness for breeding. A breeding soundness exam report can be used to submit to breeding partners to authenticate your mare’s readiness for breeding. The exam consists of a reproductive examination to identify and treat any problems that may exist before breeding.

Be sure to have a breeding soundness exam done well before breeding season. This gives you the necessary time to take care of any issues that may arise. In this exam, the veterinarian will consider the mare’s conformity to healthy reproductive organs. The vet will look for any signs of infection as well as injuries from previous pregnancies. As such, a complete breeding history will need to be provided to the veterinarian.

Ensure That the Mare is Cycling

Make sure that the mare is cycling according to their normal rhythms. Some mares cycle year round, while most mares cycle and enter heat when days are longest, such as in the spring and summer. Keep track of the cycles in a logbook.

If you need or want to breed the mare in late winter or early spring, you may need to stimulate the mare into cycle using methods such as indoors artificial lighting or hormone therapy. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you as to the best course of action for your particular mare. Note that artificial light and hormone therapy takes a while to work, so be prepared and adjust your breeding goals as necessary.

Track the Estrous Cycle

Generally, a mare’s estrous cycle can be expected to last about 21 days, but only in the first five to seven days is she in heat and receptive to breeding. Schedule breeding as close as possible to the ovulation period, which is during the last 24 to 36 hours of estrus.

There are a variety of ways to determine when the mare is in heat, including how interested she is in the stallion. Look for behavioral signs such as head-to-head contact, squatting into the breeding position, tail-raising, and frequent urination. These are all “go” signs.

On the other hand, signs that your mare is not yet ready for breeding include pinned ears, aggression toward the stallion, tail clamping, and general disinterest. Granted, you’ll need to keep a steady eye on your mare, since one day she may not be ready for breeding, while the next, she may begin exhibiting the signs of interest.

Ensure Proper Nutrition

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Proper nutrition, along with some supplementation, is essential for successful breeding. Start early, because if the mare is currently undernourished, it can take a while to bring her up to where she needs to be for a successful pregnancy.

Measure quantities carefully to ensure, not only that the mare has access to sufficient calories, but that she is actually eating sufficient calories. Do not let your ranch hands dispose of unearned oats, etc. without measuring exactly how much is left over from each feeding. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if your mare needs supplementation with vitamins or minerals.  

Any supplements given to your mare should be of high quality, from a reliable source. Again, make sure that you closely monitor how much and when supplements are taken so that you can control your mare’s nutritional intake.

Get Reports From Breeding Partner

In order to really ensure that your mare’s breeding results in the expected outcome, part of your preparation should include reviewing reports from the stallion you intend to breed her with. Not only do you need to make sure that your mare is in optimal condition, but you also need to make sure that the stallion is in optimal shape.

Remember, don’t rely on older reports. Conditions can change rapidly, especially when it comes to health. Conduct a visual inspection to look for the same signs that you would look for in your mare, as described earlier. In particular, you don’t want to breed your mare with an aggressive stallion, as your mare could get hurt in the process. Consider checking up on previous breedings with other mare owners.

Breeding your mare and raising foals can be very fulfilling. But before you decide to breed your mare, make sure that you are knowledgeable about all the steps you need to take to ensure successful breeding.

It’s also important to consider what expenses are involved and to know that your mare will need your full attention before, during, and after the breeding experience. Your equine veterinarian will be an invaluable resource for you during this time. You can always rely on them to advise and guide you toward making the best decisions for your mare.

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