Posted on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 09:14 pm:
I have a 5 yr old AQHA stallion that we have been breeding for the past 2 years. He has never live covered a mare, we have always collected him on a phantom or off a mare. He has a generally low libido regarding a mare in the teasing chute, he will take quite some time to drop, then lose his erection several times before becoming stimulated enough to mount the dummy. When he does mount the dummy, he climbs it and thrusts a few times and often does not ejaculate. After a couple of tries he loses interest. The only way we have been able to consistently get a collection is to allow him to mount a mare in estrus. We have also tried using our spayed mare, but he has almost no interest in her.
This stallion is 16H, 1300 lbs. and in excellent health. When we do get an ejaculation, his concentration is between 75 million per ml to 125 million per ml, volume is 50-100 ml. His progressive motility is averaging 60%. The remaining non motile sperm are mainly spinners. I believe him to be physically fine, and we have explored the environmental factor by trying different temps on the AV (116F seems to work the best), as well as less or more water in the AV. We have considered trying lowering the phantom in an effort to get him more stable on the dummy. He has never had a bad experience in the breeding shed. He simply prefers to mount a mare. This is a terrible limiting factor when we are trying to ship semen. Since we can not count on having a mare in standing estrus at all times, it is difficult to manage shipped semen.
His semen is of low enough concentration/quality that we will likely need to concentrate it to prepare for shipping. We are prepared to do so, but need to find a way to reliably collect him.
This stallion is remarkably quiet and easy to handle. His libido is low, and he needs lots of stimulation. I would gladly sacrafice his great attitude for semen when I need it!
There are generally three limiting factors associated with poor breeding performance:
Explore those factors and you will be likely to come up with something that explains the situation. It is necessary to "dig deep" and not just look at surface factors and also to go back in history, as the first few sexual experiences a stallion has sets a pattern of behaviour for the rest of his breeding life. If for example, the first few times he was bred he was intimidated by the mare, or by the handler (in an attempt to ensure "good behaviour" in the breeding shed), that may have resulted in the performance that you are seeing now. It's amazing how little things can make such a huge difference years later...
Lowering the breeding mount is unlikely to be beneficial. If you think about it, horses are built on an upwards arch arrangement (this is easier to demonstrate than explain!) and follow this arching when thrusting. Lowering the breeding mount will cause the horse to have to hollow his back when thrusting, and that is in fact more likely to result in back pain than if the breeding mount is too high!
You are very much at the low end of temperature range for the AV lumen (113-130° F is the range), so unless you are seeing very negative behaviours associated with higher temperatures, you might want to try the higher end if you haven't already. The fact that he will mount, thrust and then quit strongly suggests something wrong with the AV and water temperature is the most common issue there.
How are you housing the stallion? Can he see other animals, and particularly mares? If he can see mares then he will become a "harem stallion" which will typically enhance endogenous testosterone levels and help the situation.
Is the stallion on any supplements that may have a negative effect? If a stallion is receiving a testosterone-based supplement it will lower endogenous levels and with it sperm output and libido. You may however consider putting the horse on an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement, which has been demonstrated to improve sperm output and function in the breeding shed.
To elaborate a bit...... This stallion has only been shown on a very limited basis, and has always been allowed to act like a stallion in the breeding shed. His libido has always been low, so we have never done anything to discourage him.
This stallion is housed right next to mares in the barn, he can see them when he is in his stall and when he is outside.
He isn't on any supplements. Last breeding season we used the Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and it did seem to help his morphology somewhat.
We can try a hotter AV. I just wonder why he is able to ejaculate consistently on a mare with the same AV temp as on the phantom. He only takes one jump on the mare, but it may take 5 or more tries on the phantom, if you ever get a collection. What temp, specifically do you suggest?
Again, thanks for your advice. This is a frustrating situation!!
Think about this... How much mental stimulation is there for him when he's on a breeding mount compared to when he's on an actual live mare? Seems to me there's a lot more stimulation with something warm and moving underneath him than a cold and immobile breeding mount... hence... it takes less additional stimulation to get him to ejaculate on a mare (read cooler AV) than when on a mount (read warmer AV needed).
Of course, this may be completely wrong, but it's a thought!
OK, we will try a hotter AV tonight. Thought I'd start at water temp of 130F and internal temp of about 125F. I think we will also make the AV slightly looser since he comes out fully belled without ejaculating. Does that sound reasonable?
You are absolutely right, I never considered the extra stimulus the mare was likely providing for him.
Yes, if he's belling and not ejaculating, you might want to try the AV a little looser - it suggests that when he bells, he doesn't like the additional pressure and quits.
Also consider ambient temperature and duration to collection when filling your AV. If it is cold outside, and/or if the stallion takes a long time to become aroused and for collection to be attempted, then the AV will cool dramatically. FWIW, we will typically start with water between 145-150° F and by the time it's cooled down upon hitting the AV and then cooled further because of waiting around, it's down to about 125-130°. You need to play a bit with your AV and individual situation to determine what the fill water temp. should be, but I suspect that 130° may be too low, especially if it's cold where you are right now.
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