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My mare, is she too old?

Equine-Reproduction.com Bulletin Board » Breeding Methods » My mare, is she too old? « Previous Next »


Author Message
 

Karen S. Nellie
Neonate
Username: Majestic_beauty

Post Number: 1
Registered: 11-2007
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2007 - 11:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi,
I'm not sure if my mare, Katie, is too old to be bred. She is twenty years old and has had many, many foals in the past without difficulty. I know someone who is still breeding a horse that is past twenty. I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions before getting a vet over here to check her out. But I may just have to do that. Thanks!
 

Jos
Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 1612
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2007 - 11:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

We breed many mares that are well into their 20's each year. They are typically a little more difficult to get pregnant (and therefore more costly) and there will always be the odd one or two that will not get pregnant.

A good breeding soundness examination by a veterinarian experienced in equine reproduction (preferably a theriogenologist) is an essential - note that not all vets are experienced in that. We will also routinely use the oxytocin protocol on older mares, and there is little doubt in my mind that it is due to that use that we see the excellent pregnancy rates that we do in the older mares. You might want to print off the article and discuss its use with your veterinarian.
 

charlene birdsall
Weanling
Username: Charlie67

Post Number: 28
Registered: 06-2007
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 12:50 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi Karen, How long has your mare been open? Is she healthy, and how often do you ride her? A few years ago I acquired a then, 24 year old AQHA mare that is a direct daughter to Bueno Chex. I of course wanted to get one last foal from her. I rode her regularly for the first year I had her. She was healthy and in good shape for her age with no past foaling problems. So I had my vet out to do a culture and a palpataion. He said she had good uterine tone and her culture came back clean. So I bred her to a nice Zipo bred stallion. We bred her live, till she went out. At day 30, my vet palpated her and said she was not pregnant. At this time my vet didn't have a ultrasound machine. I wasn't ready to give up and wanted to get a second opinion, so I took her to a breeding specialist to make sure she wasn't pregnant. He did an ultrasound on her and found no baby, but found a bunch of fatty cysts. He said that this was common for a mare her age who had had lots of babys. He said if I really wanted to get her pregnant he would have to remove all those cysts. So that was when I decided to hang it up. So my advice to you is that if she is healthy, phisically fit, and hasn't been open for too long, then I would get her cultured and ultrasounded, and go from there. I would also would recomend doing AI, as it would be less stessful for her.
 

Tracy Smith
Breeding Stock
Username: Tracys

Post Number: 287
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 10:35 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Karen, just like Charlene said it depends on the mare. I also had a mare that I tried breeding for the first time at age 16 (granddaughter of Silver Drift, famous Arab stallion) not to mention this horse had been my husband's deceased grandfathers so we REALLY wanted a baby. Cultured fine but ultrasound showed multiple uterine cysts. My vet warned me that it may be hard to get her pregnant and unfortunately he was right. We tried multiple times over the years and never got her pregnant. Then there are the good ol broodmares that breed thruout their 20's, so I guess what I'm trying to say is definitely have a good breeding sound exam before you dump a lot of money trying to get her pregnant. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

Karen S. Nellie
Neonate
Username: Majestic_beauty

Post Number: 2
Registered: 11-2007
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 01:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi again,
I'm not sure when my mare last gave birth, I've only had her for eight months. I'll check on her papers, but it has probably been about three or four years. I do keep her exercised well. We still barrel race and I ride her a minimum of three times a week. I try to ride her every other day. The only problems she has that I know of is arthritis, but I don't see how that could affect breeding. She seems to be in great shape, though. It may be a while before I get her checked out by the vet, it depends on when I can. I'm totally new to this breeding stuff, though. If ya'll have any advice, I need it! Does she sound okay to ya'll? I'll still take her to the vet and have them check her over, though. I'll definetly keep you up to date, it may be a few months before anything happens, though. Thanks!
~Karen~
 

Tracy Smith
Breeding Stock
Username: Tracys

Post Number: 288
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 02:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Karen, if she cultures clean and she doesn't have uterine cysts I don't see why you couldn't breed her. She sounds very healthy, you just have to make sure her uterus is healthy also!
 

Karen S. Nellie
Neonate
Username: Majestic_beauty

Post Number: 3
Registered: 11-2007
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 07:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks, Tracy and all the others! I'll probably be contacting the vet very soon to check her out! I really hope I can breed her and that she will get pregnant and have no problems giving birth. I want a little foal so that I can train him and turn him into a barrel racer, then retire Katie. That would be awesome if that happened!
 

Esther Johnson
Neonate
Username: Estherj92

Post Number: 9
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 10:13 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Why is it so much harder to breed a mare that hasn't had a foal in many years?
 

Jennifer Seaman
Weanling
Username: C_j_quarterhorses

Post Number: 39
Registered: 01-2009
Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 11:11 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Esther here is my take on it as I have had older broodmares that were open for a few years...

Every mare is born with X amount of eggs to produce in her lifetime. Everytime she cycles and the egg is not fertilized it is lost. As a mare ages so do her eggs. If you have a broodmare that is bred every year after she foals you are saving 11 (or more) eggs every year so you keep her fertile (in theory). When you have an older mare who had a foal 5 years ago but has been open since then, she has lost 60 (or more) eggs that weren't fertilized and she can't get those back! Plus she's aged 5 years. And in those 5 years she could get an infection or anything that could affect her breeding soundness. That's why it's important if you are getting into the breeding aspect that you can keep those mares in foal every year. SAVE THE EGGS!


Jen
 

Jos
Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 2333
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 12:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well, that's a nice theory, but... :-)

A mare (filly) is born with upwards of 60,000 oocytes ("eggs") on her ovaries. If she starts cycling at - say - 18 months, and ceases cycling at - say - 28, then she is going to be cycling for approximately 26½ years. Presuming winter anestrus of - say - 4 months, then she will be cycling for 8 months - approximately 32 weeks - each year. If she cycles every 3 weeks, then for the sake of simplicity, we'll say 11 ovulatory cycles per year.

11 x 26½ = 291½ (say 292) cycles in a lifetime.

60,000 oocytes / 292 = ~205 oocytes per cycle.

Granted, there may be mares that start with fewer oocytes, or do use more per cycle (considerably more than one oocyte is "used" per cycle, as mares will develop follicular waves that do not ovulate but regress, with the "loss" of that oocyte), but you get my point, I'm sure :-)

Typically, the reason that mares get harder to breed the older they get is because of uterine changes. Unlike humans where the endometrium sloughs off each cycle, and is therefore regenerating, there is no menstrual process in the equine, so the endometrium that is there, is... well, "there". Over a period of time, that endometrium will undergo changes, typically for the worse. Fibrosis, scarring, reduction of myometrial activity etc. etc. All of those add up to a reduction in the ability of the mare to clear post-breeding fluids (delayed uterine clearance), and maintain a healthy placental attachment.

One thing I will add with reference to oocytes that does have a negative impact on fertility is that oocytes in a 24 year-old mare are 24 years old. And that means that they are not a durable as oocytes from a - say - 4 year-old mare, and there is a higher attrition rate of pregnancies created with those oocytes (EED) because of age-related damage to them.
 

Esther Johnson
Nursing Foal
Username: Estherj92

Post Number: 11
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Friday, April 17, 2009 - 11:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I seem to remember reading somewhere that typically a broodmare's first foals have a better chance of survival and stronger immune system throughout their lives than the foals born later in the broodmare's life. Almost as if, as she aged her foals were born with weaker systems. Is that a valid theory? Secretariat was out of a 25yr old broodmare named Somethingroyal.
 

Jos
Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 2365
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Friday, April 17, 2009 - 09:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Is that a valid theory?

Not that I'm aware of! :-)
 

Stephanie Wendorf
Neonate
Username: Darkhorse2572

Post Number: 3
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Saturday, July 25, 2009 - 07:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Several of our broodmares ("wise old matrons" as we call them) are well into their 20's ... Most of the 'matrons' do have uterine cysts (one mare has several of various sizes, a couple of which resemble perfect 12 and 20 day pregnancies) but patience, luck and a GREAT repro vet have kept our 'girls' safely producing lovely, healthy foals. Our oldest mare gave birth to her last foal at 29 and has been retired from breeding for a few years now and spends her days happily pushing the younger mares around :-)
 

Esther Johnson
Weanling
Username: Estherj92

Post Number: 28
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Monday, July 27, 2009 - 10:43 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Stephanie, with the older broodmare you mentioned that foaled at 29, how many foals did she have for you in her twenties? Was she fairly easy to breed for her age? She sounds like an amazing mare! What breed is she, and just out of curiosity, do you have any pictures? :-)
 

Diana Gilger
Senior Stallion or Mare
Username: Kdgilger

Post Number: 2492
Registered: 01-2008
Posted on Monday, July 27, 2009 - 01:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Typically with the older mares foaling, it's much easier to get and keep them in foal if they've been kept in foal each year. It's only after taking a 'few years off' and trying to get them back in foal that it becomes difficult!
 

Darkhorse 2572
Neonate
Username: Darkhorse2572

Post Number: 6
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 - 10:02 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Our "old lady" had foals for us at 19,20, 23, 24, left open after that as we thought we would be retiring her, but then bred back for a healthy baby at 27 and again for 28, as she continued to "steal" other babies, so we decided to let her keep going so to speak! She was reluctantly retired after her last foal at 29, however I really wanted her to enjoy a few years of retirement... and she has made an excellent babysitter for the weanlings!
Oops, almost forgot, she is a Hanoverian :-)
I will see if I can get some pics of her up...her 'beautiful' days are long over, but she is still a lovely reminder of times past and the wise nobility of a good mare :-)
(PS changed my user name, so this is Stephanie responding to Esther's post!)
 

Darkhorse 2572
Neonate
Username: Darkhorse2572

Post Number: 7
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 - 10:18 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Oops, forgot to add she usually took on the first try with both fresh and frozen semen, although her last pregnancy did take a couple of breedings to get her preggers.
I call her my 'ultimate broodmare', I know it sounds flaky, but...I would swear that mare loved being pregnant!!
 

Julie G
Nursing Foal
Username: Julie_g

Post Number: 12
Registered: 07-2009
Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009 - 03:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Wow Stephanie! Do post picture of her! AMAZING!
 

Darkhorse 2572
Nursing Foal
Username: Darkhorse2572

Post Number: 11
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2009 - 08:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Okay...I think I am better in the barn than on the computer...anyone have any hints as to how to post a pic?
 

Esther Johnson
Weanling
Username: Estherj92

Post Number: 29
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 09:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If you have a photobucket or snapfish account you could upload it to it, and then post the link that has the picture on it...just copy and paste the link into your regular post. Was this helpful...? :-) Can hardly wait to see a picture of her.
 

Cjskip
Breeding Stock
Username: Cjskip

Post Number: 962
Registered: 03-2008
Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - 03:42 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Karen, I'm really glad you asked that question. I have a 20 year old pregnant mare who had a foal when she was 19 years old. The vet said it was fine to breed her, but these posts have given me some excellent information, for future evaluation.

I hope to keep breeding her as long as she is healthy and tolerates it well. Once she seems to have trouble, for instance, getting up when heavy with foal, I'll retire her and be thankful for the babies she has produced.

Good luck with your girl.



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