Fantastic Foaling Video Blog by CSU

We love what Dr. McCue and the staff at the Colorado State University Equine Reproduction Lab are up to, publishing educational digital video blogs via Youtube!  An excellent embrace of today’s technology and a powerful way to obtain free training and information that can benefit your equine breeding operation.  You can view the most recent post from CSU here, focused on care for your mare during foaling season.

In this digital video blog, Dr. McCue and Dr. Ferris provide an informational presentation on key elements of mare and foal care.  The concept for a successful foaling season is to be prepared and have information as to how to address difficult foaling challenges.  During the live blog, they discuss a number of fantastic products which can assist a breeding manager or veterinarian in overcoming these challenges, described below.

Hydrion

Hydrion pH Strips

Hydrion pH Strips for Foaling Prediction is a fantastic product that is very cost effective and easy to use.  More and more farms are turning to this product for a better prediction of when their mares will foal. One simply tests the mare’s milk once a day and when the pH levels fall below 7.0 most mares will foal with in 24 hours. It is just that easy!  More product information is available on the Breeder’s Choice website, including links to data and studies, here.

Another great product mentioned by Dr. McCue and Dr. Ferris in the video blog is the Predict-A-Foal Kit.  This is an easy-to-use test kit for predicting

Predict-a-foal

Predict-A-Foal Kit

the possibility of foaling within 12 hours with up to 95% accuracy. The test kit is designed to test for levels of cations in the colostrum, the calcium level in the mare’s milk.  At the Equine Breeding Blog, we have personal experience using this product and it is truly a great tool for the breeding manager!  Breeder’s Choice distributes this product, read more about Predict-A-Foal and how it can benefit your operation here.

A big thank you to CSU and the staff for putting together such a great series of video blogs to help educate the equine breeding industry!

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Breeding Dummy Design

We’re about to begin the equine breeding season again!  A lot of you are looking at new equipment and supplies to assist in your efforts.  At the Equine Breeding Blog we are always scouring the web for industry trends, products, and information that we find interesting.  Back in 2014, Dr. McDonnell published a fantastic piece in response to a reader’s email in The Horse on the importance of Breeding Dummy Design as it relates to your semen collection operation.  We’ve included a few key points from her piece below, and encourage you to check out the complete article here.

Breeding Dummy Design – The Horse (April 2014)

Q – “We have a Quarter Horse stallion that we will be starting in a shipped semen program this year.  We are in the planning stages for our breeding room and trying to make decisions on a dummy mount.  We would appreciate any recommendations on how big we should make the dummy for this stallion.”

A – “For fit of a breeding dummy, consider:

  • The dummy’s barrel length from shoulder to tail;
  • The dummy’s height at the tail; and
  • The girth of the barrel, or barrel diameter.

For almost all stallions, a barrel length (from front to tail) of 60 inches is ample. It doesn’t hurt for it to be longer, but it is not needed.

Concerning girth, for Quarter Horse stallions, a barrel diameter of 20 inches almost always works. A good starting height for a stallion of 15.2 hands would be about 55-58 inches from the floor to the top of the barrel at the tail for a level dummy, and an inch or so lower if the dummy body is angled.

Another big design question is whether to buy or build a dummy with one fixed height or to go for an adjustable-height dummy.  One of the most important features of a dummy is sturdy, solid construction.”

Great input, Dr. McDonnell!  We agree that quality construction and proper training for the stallion are two key elements of a successful collection.

Breeder’s Choice (www.BreedersChoiceOnline.com) offers a number of great breeding

Phantom Rear_Hips

Single Leg Hydraulic Phantom by Breeder’s Choice

dummy options, including a two leg hand-adjustable phantom design as well as a single leg hydraulic phantom, both at very affordable price points.  Introduced in 2013, the single leg hydraulic phantom is self contained, meaning all the components are inside the body of the phantom, requiring only a single hole in the ground for mounting.  Most importantly, the phantom body can be raised and lowered to accommodate any size stallion, all at the push of a button.  You can read more on Breeder’s Choice’s breeding dummy products here.

 

 

 

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An Iconic Breeding Operation: Anheuser-Busch

We thought this ABC News story about the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale equine operation was worth sharing.  Many people unfamiliar with the Equine Industry are quite familiar with the Budweiser Clydesdale, but what goes on behind the scenes to raise these iconic horses?

From their birth in Boonsville, Missouri to training and “showtime” in St Louis, these Clydesdales are well cared for animals and important to the Budweiser family.  The breeding operation, led by Jeff Knapper, foals out 43 horses per year!  The requirements for those foals kept to be raised by Anheuser-Busch are quite stringent, the remaining foals are sold to farms around the world.  Anheuser-Busch clearly takes pride in its equine operation!

Take a read through the article, linked here, and watch some of the great video shot for this piece!  We are confident it will brighten your day!

The Equine Breeding Blog Staff

Make sure you check out Breeder’s Choice for all your Equine Breeding needs!  From laboratory equipment to cooled and frozen semen shipping products, Breeder’s Choice is your one-stop-shop for the Equine Breeding Industry!

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Top Notch Research!

Equine, horse, breeding, equine reproduction, mare, foal

Photo Courtesy of Julie Patton Photography

Our friends at The Horse recently published a fantastic article summarizing all the important repro studies from 2014, many of which were presented at the recent American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) Annual Convention (We were there, but missed this technical session!).  This is a wonderful summary of these research studies in one place, you can read the entire article here.

In the article, The Horse’s Managing Editor, Alexandra Beckstett, did a fantastic job of highlighting the top research published in the past year focused on equine reproduction. The article summarizes each of these important studies from leading US research entities, such as Colorado State University, Texas A&M, and the University of Kentucky, as well as studies from practitioners in Brazil and Australia.

Take some time to read through Ms. Beckstett’s summary and the links to the published papers.  If you’re interested in the science behind equine reproduction, you’ll appreciate this article as much as we did!

For all your equine breeding needs, check out the full catalog of laboratory equipment, breeding supplies, and shipping equipment at www.BreedersChoiceOnline.com.

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Preparing Your Stallion for the Breeding Season

Breeding season is upon us!  Many of you are in the midst of preparing for daily collections, semen processing, and shipping as we quickly approach February.  At Breeder’s Choice, we have a lot of discussions with our clients about how to best prepare your lab, farm, mare management, and personnel for breeding season.  But, what about one of the most critical component of your breeding operation; your stallion?  The University of Kentucky put together a fantastic article this past November on this topic.  We’ll share tidbits with you below, but you can read the complete article on the Stable Management site, here.

From the University of Kentucky via Stable Management, “Because overall health is critical to a stallion’s reproductive success, a stallion must be in good physical condition and not overweight at the start of the season. Stallions carrying too much extra weight might show decreased sperm quality. Like all horses, they need exercise to maintain mental sharpness and a healthy body condition.”

So often we concern ourselves with the semen quality, but don’t necessarily take into account factors that can cause poor motility and quality.  In the article, Dr. Squires, at the University of Kentucky, writes, “It’s important to look at semen, usually by January, to assess the horse’s semen parameters going into the breeding season…Breeding soundness is an indication of where the horse is in terms of quality and sperm production, and those factors will determine how many mares he can handle. Additionally, once the stallion reaches his ‘teenage’ years, it’s important to check sperm regularly so you have a baseline for his sperm count and quality in case changes occur dramatically.”

The article describes the basis of a breeding soundness exam, consisting of Motility, Total Number of Sperm in the Ejaculate, Bacterial Shedding, and Morphology.  According to Dr. Squires, execution of this exam before the season begins helps owners determine how many mares the stallion can likely handle and can better prepare the entire operation for a successful breeding season.

For all your equine breeding needs, check out the full catalog of laboratory equipment, breeding supplies, and shipping equipment at www.BreedersChoiceOnline.com.  We’re wishing you a productive and safe breeding season!

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Happy Holidays!

We at the Equine Breeding Blog with you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  We spent time at the Annual Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) event in Salt Lake City this month and it is a real pleasure to see the industry back and in fine form!  We saw some old friends and made new friends.  This is a great time of year, best of luck to you in the upcoming breeding season, may you and your family have a safe and happy holiday!

The Staff   – The Equine Breeding Blog

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Stallions in the Light?

It has long been an established practice in the equine field to use artificial light sources as a mechanism to shorten the winter anestrus, during which the mare is not ovulating.  But, can this same concept be used to stimulate fertility in the stallion?  The Horse published a fantastic article on their blog considering this concept.  We present a portion of this article to engage the industry in dialogue related to artificial lighting and the potential impacts, both positive and negative, to the industry.  The full article on The Horse can be found here.  What are your thoughts on this topic?

“With stallions…when days are short the pineal gland within the brain releases melatonin which it is believed inhibits the hypothalamus from releasing GnRH. A failure to release GnRH has something of a domino effect inhibiting the secretion of LH and as a result the production of testosterone in the testes.

The limited supply of testosterone in the testes results in a quieting of the stallion’s reproductive system. Libido is reduced along with testicular size and the manufacture of spermatozoa. Once again there is a similarity with what occurs within a mare’s reproductive system when the ovaries diminish in size and eggs do not mature during anestrus.

As is the case with mares, lights can be used to stimulate a stallion’s reproductive system. After first allowing the system to shut down as the result of lack of light it can be reawakened by placing the stallion under photostimulation for about 16 hours a day usually beginning sometime in December. However it has been found that a stallion will “shut down” earlier in the season after being under lights which could curtail his libido and fertility at the peak breeding period.”

Do you place your stallions under lights?

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A Study of Collecting Equine Semen on One Mount

Presented orally at the 11th International Symposium on Equine Reproduction in New Zealand this past January, Julie Kalmar, pursuing an MS degree at the University of Kentucky, discussed her findings on the effect of multiple mounts prior to stallion ejaculation. Supported with data from Select Breeders Services (SBS) from 1996-2012, the study objectives were to determine what effect multiple mounts prior to ejaculation had on the initial semen after collection, as well as define what effect multiple mounts had on the quality of the semen after freezing.

We found this study to be fascinating and have summarized some of the findings below. If you want to read a more comprehensive report, jump over to Select Breeders Services’ blog here.

  • A generally agreed upon conclusion is that quality of semen after freezing is dependent upon how good the semen is immediately after collection and prior to freezing. In some cases there is nothing one can do to improve the quality of the semen collected and one has to deal with the cards he has been given. However, there are several management factors that adversely affect the quality of semen collected:
    • A carefully prepared AV and collection of the stallion on one mount,
    • After each unsuccessful collection attempt, the bottle should be replaced with a warm fresh bottle. (Each time a stallion mounts and enters the AV and does not ejaculate the pre-sperm is accumulated in the bottle)
  • To support the study, semen collection and freezing records were available from 761 stallions and more than 12,000 ejaculations from 1996 to 2012. The study required at least 3 ejaculates were obtained from each horse and that the sperm motility was evaluated objectively with computer assisted sperm motion analysis (CASA) and semen were frozen with a programmable cell freezer.
    • Measurements included total motility, progressive motility, and concentration of sperm upon collection, gel-free semen volume and the total number of sperm in the ejaculate.
  • Extra mounts required for stallions to ejaculate resulted in a decrease in concentration of semen and a decrease in progressive motility.
    • Not an ideal scenario if attempting to ship cooled semen or freeze semen.
  • Surprisingly, the total sperm in the ejaculate was greater when extra mounts were required to collect the stallion.
  • The study found a positive correlation between initial concentration of the sperm and post thaw total and progressive motility.
    • This means that the higher the initial concentration the better the post thaw motility. This is all the more reason to collect the stallion on the first mount so the concentration of the sperm remains high.

The University of Kentucky and SBS study demonstrates the importance of collecting your stallion on the first mount.  Good collection practices are a very important factor in successfully shipping cooled and frozen semen.  We thank all those involved in the study for making the findings public and educating us on appropriate equine breeding practices.

Crysalys Controlled Rate Freezer

Crysalys Controlled Rate Cell Freezer for Equine Reproduction

For more information on equine breeding equipment and supplies, check out the Breeder’s Choice website at www.BreedersChoiceOnline.com.  Supporting the equine breeding industry, Breeder’s Choice proudly announced a new line of cell freezing and cyropreservation equipment in late February.  A great example is the new affordable Crysalys Controlled Rate Freezer.  Thousands of dollars less than other systems, this product can follow a precise freeze curve and document the freeze rate to ensure high probability of success for your Stallion.

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University of Kentucky Equine Short Course

The great folks at the University of Kentucky sent us some information on their upcoming Short Course.  If you’re involved in the equine breeding industry and you haven’t checked out a local university short course, we highly recommend you do!  A short course typically is 2-5 days and is a focused training event for equine breeding professionals to receive continuing education on new techniques or processes developed by researchers specializing in equine reproduction.  No only are you supporting a great research establishment, you’re receiving training on the latest and greatest techniques in the business.  Below is the information on the upcoming short course event at the University of Kentucky:
horse breeding equine reproduction stallion

The UK Equine Showcase, now in its third year, will highlight the university’s current equine programs and relevant industry findings. It will run from 1-5 p.m. Feb. 7, with a light reception following.  The showcase will offer four hours of Continuing Education credit for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.  The 5th annual Kentucky Breeder’s Short Course is an in-depth program on equine reproduction and horse management issues from 8am to 5pm on February 8th, with lunch included.  The short course will offer six and half hours of Continuing Education credit for veterinarians and vet technicians.  New this year is an in-depth “wet lab” on February 9th, space is limited.  The wet lab will include a hands-on educational opportunity led by some of the equine industry’s foremost experts.

Questions? Contact Jenny Evans at the UK Gluck Equine Research Center, at jenny.evans@uky.edu or 859-218-1089https://2014ukequineshowcase.eventbrite.com

At Breeder’s Choice, we have our finger on the equine breeding industry’s pulse.  If you want more information on short courses from around the country, please contact us by visiting www.BreedersChoiceOnline.com, your source for all equine breeding equipment.

 

 

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Unique Breeding – Zebras

We’re changing up the blog a bit this month to discuss a unique equine cousin, the Zebra! A lot of horse lovers over look the rarely domesticated Zebra, one of several species from the African Equid family. There are three species of zebras: the plains zebra, the Grévy’s zebra and the mountain zebra. Both the Grévy’s and mountain zebra are protected and are actively supported by international conservation societies to ensure they are around for years to come.  Have you ever thought about owning a horse/zebra hybrid; a zorse, zony, or zonkey?!

Rarity, a zebra stallion studded by Rarity Acres located in Kalamazoo, MI

There are a number of farms around the world that engage in active breeding of zebras. We were fortunate to be made aware of a unique farm in Michigan which studs a zebra stallion; Rarity Acres, located in Kalamazoo, MI. Their zebra stallion is Rarity, a 2004 Grants, one of many subspecies within the Grévy species native to Tanzania and Kenya.  Rarity Acres also boards a number of zebra fillies and mares; Sierra, a Grant filly and Marti, a Damara mare.  Rarity Acres is also home to a number of horses, including a host of Arabian horses.  Rarity Acres has an active breeding program.  We think this is a wonderful and unique side to equine breeding, offering a new way to work with the species and share the “zebra love” with others.  You can check out Rarity Farms on Facebook, here.

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