I have a 15 yr old TB mare that I would like to breed in the spring of 2002 (she would be 16). She had one foal in 1994 - conceived on the 1st A.I.(cooled semen) and had an uneventful pregnancy and delivery. Should I have her inspected for breeding soundness in the Fall (before I sound the contract!)? Would she require another exam/culture in the Spring? Are there any increased risks for abnormalities (like Down's Syndrome in older women) or complications associated with breeding older mares? Thanks!
A 15 year old TB brood mare who is in good health is not generally considered old by most breeder´s standards.
As for the reproductive work up. If anyone wished to maximize their chances of producing a live foal from a mare of any age. They would certainly be well advised to do everything possible to prepare the mare for the impending mating. That should include a thorough reproductive exam, since a mare´s reproductive potential can change substantially from one season to the next. Unfortunately that potential usually does not progress in an improving curve, but rather in a slow declining curve. For some that decline is much quicker than others.
Then with that out of the way. The typical requirements of breeding operations in a live cover situation, is that the mare owner provide a current negative EIA (coggins) test for the mare along with a current negative culture. This is to insure that their stallion is not exposed to any harmful pathogens. However as a responsible mare owner, one would be well advised to take this a step further, and provide a negative culture and cytology.
If this breeding is going to be performed with CTS or frozen semen. The mare owner is under more pressure than they otherwise would be, to insure that the mare is prepared in the best possible way to increase the possibility of conception and a resulting foal.
Preparation consists of knowledge of the mares reproductive condition and any potentially problematic conditions that she may have that could interfere with her ability to accomplish what you are asking her to do. The more you know about that mare´s reproductive system the better prepared you are to deal with any potential problems long before she will be exposed to the semen. Thus possibly preventing problems and additional expense on your part. There are no short cuts in this area. The old adage applies here, "be well prepared or be prepared to pay well".
If I may share a statement made to me by a large TB breeding farm manager in my area this year. He stated that all his 75 barren mares were in foal by the end of March. He attributes this exceptional feat to one thing. He worked all of last fall on these mares doing everything he could to insure that they would be ready to breed at the beginning of breeding season, February 10. unfortunately this in not typical, but clearly illustrates what good management and hard work can accomplish.
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