I have been handling the stallions at a pony farm for 10 yrs now, after loosing one of the old boys the owner decided to try freezing the grand old man at a clinic that does ET and Freezing about 20 minutes from the farm. Dragon is 28 this year so we knew it could be a waste of time and money but his semen was still looking good and all of his mare settled easily. Jos you might remember Dragon, you used him to ground collect at one of your seminars, the AV blew apart and Kathy got soaked.
The happy ending of the story is Dragon produced 24 doses over 7 or 8 collections for around $2400. A straw was thaw after each freezing and checked (don't know the #'s) and we haven't tried breeding a mare yet.
The owner was pleased to get him in the can but we had some concerns about taking the other stallions.
1. They only had a large Mo. AV and Dragon is a 12.2 pony. Dragon bells really big for a little guy so he was going to have to bell in the AV. We use a custom Colorado type AV so he can bell out the end. He also likes the AV to be tight and at 47 degrees but since he has to ejeculate in the AV it couldn't be tight and the temperature had to be no more than 37. We offered to bring Dragon's AV but they weren't interested.
2. They didn't make an attempt to have a mare in heat or to have urine from a mare at hand. The mares (2) they used were not in heat, not once. I asked them not to use the mare to tease him to get him to drop to clean him, he doesn't need a mare for that. But they did so he knew she wasn't in heat when he went to the phantom and was all that interested. The last collection did't go well, they use a new recipient mare, a young TB maiden (not in heat) that was spooky and they were scared to death off and kept her about 20' from the phantom. Dragon doesn't need the mare to be in heat if you bring her close to the phantom, he is a face guy and really gets off if they squeall. At the clinic Dragon would dismount early and dribble semen on the ground. I asked them to move the mare a little closer to the phantom as he was finishing and he would stay on the phantom and finish in the AV, no they can't do that because the mare is scare and might become dangerous. His collections were around 30 mls at the clinic, home (this year) they were always between 70-90 mls and never dismounts early, sometimes we think he takes a nap up on the phantom. We felt they didn't give him a good chance to get the best collections possible.
3. I watched the vet do the calculations and dilutions, seemed fine but then she set it on the counter and say she had 2 hours to freeze it. She said that the extended semen will not deteriate, really??? I never did see the actual freezing process.
OK, maybe now I'm just nit picking but she used a non sterile glove and didn't turn it inside out before putting it on. Then she holds the tube of priority care lube with the gloved hand to open the foil seal on it before she uses over 1/2 a tube of lube the AV.
I had the privilege of watch You and Kathy at Adventure Beach Ponies in Ocala do some freezing several years ago so I had an idea of how it should be done. If I remember correctly, time is of the essences, after collecting you ran to the lab, you and Kathy work with so fast together to get it in the nitrogen, it seemed like you were done in about 15 minutes. This is what I expected from this clinic. Sure wish you guy would hit the road again, it hard to settle for the rest when you have seen the best.
I guess different people/facilities have different philosophies. We feel that stallions are individuals and as such one has to be able to adjust the situation to get the best result, rather than adjusting the stallion to fit the situation (within reason of course).
As far as rushing to process the semen, it has been clearly demonstrated that seminal plasma is detrimental to sperm (it's one of nature's funny little sick jokes!), so we want to get the semen/seminal plasma diluted as rapidly as possible and then removed. There is a gradual decline in viable sperm from the time of ejaculation - that's obvious! - so I certainly wouldn't be comfortable taking my time and up to two hours to freeze the semen!
Ejaculate volumes can be misleading. One can have a high volume with low sperm concentration and end up with fewer sperm than a low volume ejaculate with high sperm concentration, so without knowing total sperm numbers it can be risky to presume that a lower volume is a poorer quality ejaculate. Typically too, the tail fraction of the ejaculate (which contains seminal plasma and gel) doesn't contain many if any sperm, so the drips on the floor probably didn't lose too many...
"Different strokes for different folks" and "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" however, so hopefully all will be well and Dragon will be good for 10,000+ years! Give the old man a pat for me!
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