Preparing your mare for breeding

14 Feb 2024

Is my mare suitable to breed from?

This is the first consideration. How old is she? Has she had foals previously? Older maiden mares have much lower fertility than younger mares or those that have had foals before. Mares aged +15 yrs may have 20% less chance of conceiving compared to younger mares. Are there any undesirable genetic traits that could be passed on to the foal.

It is best to discuss this with your vet if you have any concerns.

Managing expectations of success

Be mindful of the likelihood of your mare conceiving. Internationally recognised conception rates are 60-70% for fresh semen, 44% for chilled semen and 46% for frozen semen.

Choosing a stallion

It is important to consider his type, credentials and how he is bred. When will the stallion be available? He could be in work and at competitions during the stud season. Will it be natural cover? will your mare need to travel to him? Or will it be by artificial insemination (AI), in which case we will need to know whether it is chilled or frozen semen that will be used and how many days it will take to order. Clear communication between you, ourselves and the stallion manager is vital to get the timings right. Be clear on the T & C’s of the stud fee and what will happen if your mare does not get in foal.

Pre breeding veterinary examination and health screening

Should be performed by your vet. This will help to assess suitability for breeding and highlight any possible fertility issues. Finding out information early can prevent the expense and disappointment of trying to breed from a sub-fertile mare. Ideally this examination should be performed in stocks with or without sedation. The examination may lead to your vet suggesting further investigations or treatment prior to or during breeding and pregnancy. These suggestions will be to improve the chances of successfully conceiving and carrying a foal to term.

Health screening tests can also be carried out at this time. It is important to check the requirements of the individual stud or AI centre. Results of these tests can take time to come back so plan ahead to prevent delay.

Worming and vaccinations

It is essential that your mare is vaccinated against flu and tetanus. Vaccination against EHV (1 & 4) and Rota virus should also be considered and discussed with your vet. Your mare should also be up to date with worming.

Will you be using natural service or artificial insemination (AI)?

Natural service is probably the most economical and may be the best option if the stallion is local to you.

AI is the process of collecting semen from the stallion and manually placing it in the mare’s uterus. AI can be performed using chilled or frozen semen

Key points
  • Preparation is the key. Plan ahead to know stud procedures and health test requirements.
  • Older, overweight and maiden mares are more difficult to breed from.
  • Mares should be in good general health.
  • Have a vet perform a pre-breeding examination on your mare.

If you are thinking about breeding from your mare or have any further questions then please contact our office who will put you in touch with one of our stud vets.