I have a young 5 year old maiden mare, whom I have been trying to get pregnant since April. I have had her at a specialist who deals with embryo transfer and frozen semen. This vet said reproductively, she is perfect. We had no success after 4 breedings with frozen. The vet questioned the fertility of the semen. So I tried again with fresh semen imported for NH to Ontario. My vet bred her, checked her the next day, and said she had ovulated and there was a definate difference in her cervix. So I was hugely optimistic, and yesterday (16 days after breeding), I find she is showing signs of heat. My vet is coming today to ultra sound her, but I am just ill. she has always shown strong heats, even during the winter, and was hoping that perhaps she still may have a chance of being pregnant. Huge $$ was spent on this mare, including huge vet bills as well, and I fear I may have purchased a "White Elephant".
Well, my vet confirmed that infact she is not pregnant, but has another folicle at 35mm, so we will try again this Friday. He plans to put her on regumate 3 days post breeding. I was wondering what else could possibly be wrong with this mare. She is young, and I have had two vets confirm that she is "reproductively perfect" with no signs of issues. My own vet said he could understand failure with Frozen, as it is not the most reliable, but this 5th try we used fresh. If she does not catch this second time he plans to biopsy her to see if there are any issues. Does anyone have any other reasons or comments that we could look into?
the saga continues!....... My mare was checked for breeding around noon on the Friday, and we found she had ovulated. My vet bred her with the fresh semen, hoping she had not ovulated for long. It is now Sunday, and she is still "horsing" like mad. He plans on putting her on Regumate on Monday, and this will be the second try with fresh, after being bred with frozen 4 times previous. I am at the end of my rope, and wonder why if a mare is young and healthy, and the fact that I have had two vets work on her that say reproductively, she is fine. What could be the problem??? He did say that if we were not successful this time, he would biopsy her. Its getting to the close of breeding season, and I dread to see her open for another year. (last year she was in training). she is just 5. Help Jou.... what could be the issue????
You have not indicated exactly what pre- peri- and post-breeding work was done on the mare, so it is hard to comment on what may be the issue, as there are so many reasons why a mare may not get or stay pregnant.
A thorough breeding soundness examination is money well spent, and that BSE should include ultrasound, digital cervical evaluation, and a culture and cytology as a minimum. Many vets do not routinely perform a cytology smear in conjunction with a culture, and the results of a culture alone are worthless as far as an indicator of the pathogenic condition of the mare's uterus.
Were there known pregnancies established with the frozen semen? If not, then of course the semen may have been at fault, but if there were known pregnancies in other mares, that may not have been the problem. Determining if frozen semen from a particular stallion has been known to establish pregnancies in other mares before purchasing it is a valuable move!
Once you have bred the mare on three consecutive cycles, or multiple cycles in the same breeding season (such as you have), the uterus will tend to be getting "tired". There's a lot of inflammatory response that occurs as a result of breeding, and the likelihood of establishing pregnancy drops with each subsequent failed cycle. Sometimes one is better off waiting out a couple of cycles to let the uterus recover a little. A biopsy at this point may show problems, but it also may not be an accurate representation of the "normal" condition of the mares uterus, as there could be a greater level of inflammation present as a result of the continued repeated breedings.
The need for Regumate use in a 5 year old is very questionable in my opinion, and I would not do it unless I had a confirmed low progesterone level - confirmed by multiple assays on multiple consecutive days.
Most mares show estrus behaviour for 24-48 hours after ovulation, and some longer, so the fact that she was still "showing" on Sunday is probably not an issue, but if she is still displaying estrus tomorrow (Monday), you may wish to have your vet back to ultrasound again.
Thank you for your response Dr. Jos. It is appreciated.
The first vet had her at his clinic for approx 3 months. He did a reproductive check on her pre breeding, as it is required on our particular semen contract. After the 3rd try with Frozen the Dr. did not like the look of the condition of the uterus post breeding, and was concerned about the hormone level. He drew blood and it came back that her progesterone level was at 3.7. Too low in his opinion to sustain a pregnancy. The mare has not yet conceived. (that we know of) He also checked the semen (Frozen )and it was alive, but he also stated that does not always tell the level of fertility of the semen. He was not particularly comfortable with this particular semen, as he said he has had mixed success with it. That is why I choose to use the backup stallion for Frozen who is standing in the US and offering Fresh.
The mare is highly bred, and I believe that all avenues should be explored rather than have her remain open. It has been in the high 80's to 90's here for the last month, with high humidity levels which I don't think helps at all. Funny things seem to happen in the heat, with cycles and ovulation. I suppose nature has it way. So this is where we stand at the moment. I will write back Monday with further info on our situation.
Thank you again for your informative comments. Your site is wonderful. It is very much appreciated and I feel fortunate to have all this information to explore.
I had a mare that had a very small window for insemination before she ovulated. When she had a 32 we inseminated and gave hCG at 35 with another insemination. She had been opened and would not settle before we figured this out.
She demonstrated heat as usual, but ovulated earlier than normal. She built a breedable follcile at a normal pace, but once it was 32 it went like a house on fire! You may not want to wait for her to develop past a 32-35 before you inseminate.
Also I would recommend checking her for thyroid issues. I just had to repurchase my maiden who is now 7 years old and after two years with unsuccessful pasture breeding (with two different young stallions) and then 4 times with AI. Finally found out through a simple blood test that she needed to be on thryoid medication before and during pregnancy (I was told it is cheap to purchase). Now that I know this she is being leased out next spring to have her first foal in 2007.
beleive it or not some mares will not settle util they are live covered either. I had a friend whos mare would not settle and out of shear desperation found a stallion she liked and had her mare pasture bred and she finaly settled and had a marvoulous colt the following year. He rvet said there are a few mares that will not settle if they are AI's or hand covered as their get nervous and all the human contact involed...
Jos, no matter how many articals that are presented for AI there are always going to be other articals that are just as well done about live cover being better for some mares. If the oxytocin works then why are not more places and vets using it?
We frequently run into situations where breeders are dealing with veterinarians that are not aware of different factors relating to breeding. It's one of the reasons why many of our courses are approved for CE (continuing education) credit points for veterinarians. The whole field of veterinary medicine is progressing forwards by leaps and bounds, and equine reproduction is no different! This means that it can be extremely hard for vets to keep abreast of the newest technology as a whole, and breeding in particular (which - let's face it - is a very small part of a mixed veterinary practice).
So heres the hard part Jos, How in can we get OUR vets to listen as you well know some can be very hard headed. Do you think its just a difference between the states and the UK vet practices? I am trying to get into a class for AI as well as Collection and shipment of semen through you classes and training. I have read a bunch but am so very confused from the different litrature available from different vets and vet schools...I guess thats what I am trying to find out..who in the heck to believe!! ITs a pain and I want to better educate the folks that have their mares comming in for mare care and cover by my stallion. Thank you for the information that you give though..
I also have a mare that I tried from end of May to get in foal. Did all the cytology, cultures, biopsies - the whole 9 yards, adn everything always came back "normal". But still no baby!! On the equine repro site I finally got into the archives about the Thyro-L, read what so many had to say about it and tried it myself. My mare was bred August 24, and today confirmed at 92 days in foal!! She has had Thyro-l since August 2, and will continue on it every day of her pregnancy. Cindy Moore}}}
I don't think there's a big difference between US and UK vets - indeed, being aware of the level of Thoroughbred influence (read "live cover") in the UK, I suspect that when it comes to AI and semen handling, you may be worse off in the UK than the US (we are certified to perform AI in the UK, and I am English by birth, so I know from where you come).
There are some excellent reproductive veterinarians in the UK though (Jonathan Pycock is a good friend so I wouldn't want to denigrate UK vets!!!), and I believe that often if encountering a problem, one is better off going to an expert in the field even if it is a little more inconvenient and expensive initially - often it is easier and cheaper in the long run!
As far as learning is concerned - there are some excellent resources on the Internet. Track down peer-reviewed research such as the Theriogenology Journal and others like it. Research of basic reproductive parameters from websites such as our own can get you a good grounding - but obviously it can be hard to understand the Journals if you don't have the basic knowledge!
Buy good books! McKinnon and Voss' "Equine Reproduction" is an excellent one, and although quite expensive, will provide you with probably more knowledge than the starter veterinarian will have coming out of University if you read and learn it all! It is also a text book that is used in those Universities, so if you have a differing viewpoint after reading it, it may be beneficial to present the relevent page to your vet... Do remember though that research is leaping forward by bounds, so although most of McKinnon and Voss' work is up to date, some of it is already out of date!
I too have had my share of difficulties w/getting my mare in foal via AI. She had been live covered for her first two pregnancies and caught on one heat cycle both times. Two years after her last foal was born, I decided to breed her to a stud that was 10 hrs away = AI was our only option.
She used to show heat to our gelding, or we would find her stall partition soaked. The spring we planned to breed, she stopped showing heat. Sneaky mare! We sent her to the vet's clinic (45 minutes away) and I visited her every day. He ultrasounded her, I believe, at least every other day to track her follicle developement. He also tested her thyroid - nothing unusual. She never settled in and was always looking for her buddy (our gelding). I figured that she was just too stressed to take on her first breeding, so we brought her home and tried again on her next cycle.
I personally feel that she ovulated sooner the second time around and that we simply missed it. She was ultrasounded on a Wednesday and bred late Saturday. No go. At this point, I decided to wait until the following year to try again as it was getting late in the summer. **Our vet does give a shot of HCG after each breeding.
This year we started mid-May and had to kick-start her cycle w/Regumate and Lutalyse. We have her Regumate for 14 days and a shot of Lutalyse on the 15th. She was sweaty within 30 minutes of the shot, but the symptoms quickly resided. We bred her on the following cycle. The timing seemed perfect. I can't remember the exact size of the follicle, but she was bred the very next day. 18 days later = not pregnant.
Back to square one. So, the vet checked her progesterone levels and she is low-normal. We then decided that we would put her on Regumate after her next breeding. The day after she was bred again, he came back out and did a Lavage on her. The fluid came back out clear with no signs of infections and he left me w/a schedule of Oxytocin shots to help her expel any remaining fluids. 18 days later... she was finally confirmed pregnant! We kept her on 10cc of Regumate for the first 100 days and so far, so good.
My question to Jos is: I'm planning on breeding her again after she foals next year (Lord willing). I won't do it on her foal heat, I'll wait until her next heat. Do you think we'll need to do another Lavage & give her Regumate for her next pregnancy?
We also bought a new mare. She was bred live cover last year and foaled a big palomino colt late this spring. We bred her AI to another stud about a month later. The vet at the stable where she was being boarded at the time, palpated her on a Monday and then bred her AI on Wed & Thurs (not sure why he did back-to-back days). Two 1/2 weeks later - she was confirmed pregnant by ultrasound.
It was a big relief for our new mare's breeding to go so smoothly, but also frustrating that it took so much time to get my other mare bred. At any rate, I'm biting the bullet and will breed the difficult mare w/AI next year if everything goes according to plan.
Do you think we'll need to do another Lavage & give her Regumate for her next pregnancy?
If she shows uterine fluid >2cm in depth, if it were my mare, I would lavage. If not, I would use the oxytocin protocol alone.
Our opinion on Regumate [over]use can be found in our article entitled Does my mare need Regumate?... you can draw your own conclusions, but we only used it on one mare out of 40 that were >20 years old that we bred this year (and she had a known cervical injury problem), and we had a >85% pregnancy rate with them...
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