When to start the breeding process

Marigold4

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So, after two years of humming and hawing about this, I am actually going to breed from my mare. She's had two foals before, both straightforward, but before I owned her. I also own the second foal who is now rising 5 and turning out very well.

Shortlist of 3 stallions picked out and viewed and can't wait for Spring!

What would be the earliest time you would inseminate the mare? We are using chilled semen and mare will stay at home for this. Would it be mid-May to avoid foal arriving in the cold?

TIA
 

TheMule

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I think it depends a bit on your set up. I wanted a late Spring/ Summer foal as my mare foals outside and the foal was going to live out from the off.
I certainly wouldn’t be aiming to AI the mare anytime before late April
 

milliepops

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I think it depends a bit on your set up. I wanted a late Spring/ Summer foal as my mare foals outside and the foal was going to live out from the off.
Not by any means an expert :oops: but I def agree with this. My mare was covered late may but didn't catch, but did late June and then foaled early June. From the POV of them living out that was ideal because the weather was lovely, but i do wish we'd been able to wean a bit earlier because the field they live in was a bit knackered by December when I split them. it would have been nicer a month earlier :oops:
therefore I'm planning for next time (whenever that will be) to start in April in case we need a second go again. i can stable if the weather is poor in spring.
 

Equi

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Let your vet let you know when she’s ready. Her first few seasons may be taken up by swabbing and flushing if needed and for finding how she’s producing the eggs.
 

Marigold4

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Not by any means an expert :oops: but I def agree with this. My mare was covered late may but didn't catch, but did late June and then foaled early June. From the POV of them living out that was ideal because the weather was lovely, but i do wish we'd been able to wean a bit earlier because the field they live in was a bit knackered by December when I split them. it would have been nicer a month earlier :oops:
therefore I'm planning for next time (whenever that will be) to start in April in case we need a second go again. i can stable if the weather is poor in spring.
That's very useful to know. Thanks for replying. I was wondering too about late April in case I need a second go. I would think she will be indoors to foal as it will be easier to keep an eye on her and lighting/vets etc. It's also what I'm used to - I worked on stud years ago. So I guess it won't matter too much if weather isn't perfect.
 

Marigold4

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Let your vet let you know when she’s ready. Her first few seasons may be taken up by swabbing and flushing if needed and for finding how she’s producing the eggs.
Thanks for replying. If I went for late April, when would you recommend I first contact the vet to start her pre-breeding checks? I suppose I could ask my vet! I think they are all probably a bit busy now though and some on furlough. Just need a general idea from someone at this stage would be useful.
 

Marigold4

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I think it depends a bit on your set up. I wanted a late Spring/ Summer foal as my mare foals outside and the foal was going to live out from the off.
I certainly wouldn’t be aiming to AI the mare anytime before late April
Thanks for replying. I think I might try late April and keep fingers crossed weather is warm. Then if it doesn't work, we still have lots of time in hand. I think mine will foal indoors as that's what she's done before and what I'm used to. I worked on a stud but it was abroad and all live cover so timing was a little different.
 

TheMule

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On weaning, mine was a late June foal so I left him on his dam through the winter (weaned end of Feb). It worked really well, and the research I found suggested minimum age of 7 months better for foal health.
 

Marigold4

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On weaning, mine was a late June foal so I left him on his dam through the winter (weaned end of Feb). It worked really well, and the research I found suggested minimum age of 7 months better for foal health.
Yes, I'm in no hurry to wean so that sounds like a good plan. Did your mare cope alright still feeding the foal during winter months? My mare takes quite a lot to keep weight on.
 

TheMule

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Yes, I'm in no hurry to wean so that sounds like a good plan. Did your mare cope alright still feeding the foal during winter months? My mare takes quite a lot to keep weight on.
Yes, but she has been an easy keeper since she stopped work so that wasn’t surprising- they were out on decent grass but had haylage the whole time too. If the mare isn’t back in foal then I wouldn’t worry too much if they drop off a bit coming towards the end of winter
 

Asha

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I prefer foals on the ground in April. If the weather isnt great at first it gives you a bit of extra time to do all the basic handling. Then by the time they are 2-3 months old they can chillout in the fields a bit more. Then weaning can be done october time, when there still a bit of something left in the grass.

ETA - plus it gives you extra time for a few attempts, even mares who have had them before can encounter issues.
 

Marigold4

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I prefer foals on the ground in April. If the weather isnt great at first it gives you a bit of extra time to do all the basic handling. Then by the time they are 2-3 months old they can chillout in the fields a bit more. Then weaning can be done october time, when there still a bit of something left in the grass.

ETA - plus it gives you extra time for a few attempts, even mares who have had them before can encounter issues.
Thanks, Asha. That's useful to know. I'm going to start late April.
 
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Here is a complete guide for this
Step 1: Consider the mare’s overall health
Margo Macpherson, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, a professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Gainesville, says there’s no one recipe for broodmare management; veterinarians must assess each mare individually.
Before focusing on a mare’s reproductive health, owners must first note her overall wellness. Does she appear healthy? Are her hooves in good shape? What vaccinations are due? Does she need a fecal egg count to check for parasites? Is she carrying too much or too little weight? Does she need a dental exam?
Karen Wolfsdorf, DVM, Dipl. ACT, a field veterinarian and reproductive specialist at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute’s McGee Fertility Center, in Lexington, Kentucky, says one of the most important initial observations she makes is the mare’s Henneke body condition score (BCS). Ideally, broodmares should score between a 5 and 7 on the 1-to-10 scale prior to breeding.
“I like to be able to feel ribs but not see ribs,” says Wolfsdorf.
She says she also looks for protruding fat pads, a cresty neck, or other abnormalities that might suggest the mare has pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID, or equine Cushing’s disease), insulin dysfunction, or some other systemic illness that could affect the reproductive system.
She also takes into account the mare’s breeding history, including issues getting pregnant, endometritis (inflammation of the uterine lining), or abortion.

If the breeding will be via live cover, it’s important to know the chosen breeding shed’s stipulations. For example, Wolfsdorf says some breeding sheds require certain vaccinations, such as for rhinopneumonitis (herpesvirus-1), which veterinarians usually administer three weeks to three months prior to breeding to prevent the stallion from potentially being exposed to the virus. Wolfsdorf says owners should know the mare’s vaccination history and keep her current on her vaccines against diseases in that region, including during pregnancy.
To reduce the risk of spontaneous abortion, the American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends vaccinating mares against herpesvirus-1 at five, seven, and nine months of gestation. On some high-traffic farms, veterinarians might administer the herpesvirus vaccine every two months, but this is off-label use.
Step 2: Schedule a breeding soundness examination and address any problems
Getting a mare pregnant is a team effort between the broodmare owner and the veterinarian, says Wolfsdorf. Veterinarians typically perform a breeding soundness exam—a reproductive exam for broodmares—to identify and manage possible problems before breeding.
When discussing these exams, Macpherson says she’s mindful of a client’s budget and lists all the options to equip him or her to make an educated decision on which evaluations to perform. Often, a mare might only need a breeding soundness exam if she does not conceive after the first two or three attempts.
“The breeding soundness evaluation is far more important for the mare with difficulty
in getting pregnant or the aged or middle-aged maiden mare,” says Macpherson. “I really think that a breeding soundness evaluation is meant to problem-solve or to provide prognostic information, so that the owner can make informed decisions.”
For most broodmares that have not had any breeding-related issues, Wolfsdorf starts by examining the mare’s reproductive anatomy, including perineal conformation—which involves the vulvar lips, the vestibular-vaginal fold and/or the hymen, and the cervix. If a mare has poor perineal conformation, she is at risk for reproductive tract contamination with feces, air, and microbes. To prevent this and possible resulting infection, veterinarians can suture the vulvar lips together (a procedure called a Caslicks), later removing the stitches for breeding and foaling.
An exam will also include transrectal palpation and an ultrasound examination. These tools help determine the stage of the mare’s estrous cycle. They can also allow the vet to verify the size and functionality of her ovaries and identify potential abnormalities within the uterus and vagina, such as excessive fluid, which can be a sign of inflammation or poor uterine clearance.
Macpherson says she performs an ultrasound exam every time she evaluates a mare prior to breeding. “I think the tools of palpation are extraordinarily important, but there’s so much that we can see with an ultrasound that makes an impact on breeding management,” she says.
Palpation and ultrasound examination results often determine the next steps in abnormal cases, says Wolfsdorf. “What we see in her uterus will dictate what type of culture and cytology we may want to do,” to confirm and identify pathogens, she says.
She says she most commonly performs this in mares that have a “baggy, saggy” uterus, such as older broodmares, those that have had multiple foals, or ones with a history of endometritis, to look for inflammation and infection. These mares might also be more prone to breeding-induced endometritis because of impaired uterine clearance.
An endometrial biopsy adds another piece of information to the evaluation. With this procedure the veterinarian evaluates a piece of the endometrium microscopically to look for abnormalities, such as inflammation, scar tissue around glands and vessels, and dilated lymphatics. Evaluating endometrial tissue can help the vet predict the probability of a mare becoming pregnant and maintaining the pregnancy to term.
If a veterinarian needs further information on a mare, he or she can perform a hysterocopic exam, which involves inserting an endoscope into the uterus to look for abnormalities such as foreign bodies, adhesions, or fungal/bacterial plaques.
The information gathered during the breeding soundness exam can guide your veterinarian to recommend certain management techniques or treatments before breeding.
Step 3: Get the mare cycling.

Step 4: Track the mare’s estrous cycle to know when she’s ovulating

Step 5: Determine when to breed the mare

Step 6: Use veterinary technology to time breeding with ovulation

Step 7: Encourage uterine clearance, especially in problem mares


Step 8: Check for pregnancy
 

windand rain

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I would get started next month with health checks, vaccinations and preparing the mare then inseminate in the end March. Early foals get the benefit of Spring grass and in recent years better weather. Only time I stable is for foaling as I can keep an eye out more easily. I know it tends to be safer and cleaner outdoors but if inside you can see quickly if you have any snags. Foals dont come to any harm in dry cold it is wet cold that is troublesome. Competition wise early foals have a head start over late ones
 

MissMay

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I would aim for March in case she doesnt take, longer at good nutritious grass also.

we aim to foal indoors in large calving bays rigged with cameras, but some just dont seem relaxed alone and confined so we seperate the herd and let them choose between fields and outdoors usually its outside, make sure you find the placenta quick if its outside so fox doesnt get it! hard to check it's all intact if its missing!!

Re weaning we self wean our mare, she takes them off herself around 6.5 to 7 months once she has weaned we remove so she dries up but the actual weaning process she does herself
 

ihatework

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I would get started next month with health checks, vaccinations and preparing the mare then inseminate in the end March. Early foals get the benefit of Spring grass and in recent years better weather. Only time I stable is for foaling as I can keep an eye out more easily. I know it tends to be safer and cleaner outdoors but if inside you can see quickly if you have any snags. Foals dont come to any harm in dry cold it is wet cold that is troublesome. Competition wise early foals have a head start over late ones
See I wouldn’t be wanting a foal midFeb early March. You breed natives yes? I suppose that’s a bit different.

If you breed sports types then having early foals needs very good facilities and is more labour intensive. You cannot predict what the weather is going to do the following year and I wouldn’t want foals kept predominantly indoors for anything other than their first few days of life.

Early foals really don’t put them at a competitive advantage unless perhaps you are doing decent showing. Anyone one producing competition horses well will do it at the appropriate pace for the individual horse. Race TBs are obviously different whereby they have to go through the ring and/or get to the track early.

For a regular small hobby breeder I’d suggest working towards April on the ground at the earliest. May is about perfect.
 

Marigold4

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I would get started next month with health checks, vaccinations and preparing the mare then inseminate in the end March. Early foals get the benefit of Spring grass and in recent years better weather. Only time I stable is for foaling as I can keep an eye out more easily. I know it tends to be safer and cleaner outdoors but if inside you can see quickly if you have any snags. Foals dont come to any harm in dry cold it is wet cold that is troublesome. Competition wise early foals have a head start over late ones
Thanks very much for this. Foal will be connie x tb x oldenburg so I might need to go a little later? Does breed make a difference to timing for foaling? I have an American barn set up and will take out partition between two loose boxes to make a 12 x 28' indoor space for them. Barn is right next to the house so as you say keeping an eye will be easier indoors than field.
 

Marigold4

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I would aim for March in case she doesnt take, longer at good nutritious grass also.

we aim to foal indoors in large calving bays rigged with cameras, but some just dont seem relaxed alone and confined so we seperate the herd and let them choose between fields and outdoors usually its outside, make sure you find the placenta quick if its outside so fox doesnt get it! hard to check it's all intact if its missing!!

Re weaning we self wean our mare, she takes them off herself around 6.5 to 7 months once she has weaned we remove so she dries up but the actual weaning process she does herself
Thanks for replying. I'm having a think about starting a bit earlier. I'm going to be philosophical about this and if it doesn't work in two tries, I'll leave it. So I guess that still gives me time if I start in April?
 

Marigold4

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See I wouldn’t be wanting a foal midFeb early March. You breed natives yes? I suppose that’s a bit different.

If you breed sports types then having early foals needs very good facilities and is more labour intensive. You cannot predict what the weather is going to do the following year and I wouldn’t want foals kept predominantly indoors for anything other than their first few days of life.

Early foals really don’t put them at a competitive advantage unless perhaps you are doing decent showing. Anyone one producing competition horses well will do it at the appropriate pace for the individual horse. Race TBs are obviously different whereby they have to go through the ring and/or get to the track early.

For a regular small hobby breeder I’d suggest working towards April on the ground at the earliest. May is about perfect.
Thank you for replying. Lots to think about and weigh up. I don't want to add any risk to an already risky process. I expect I will be spending some nights sleeping in the barn towards the end (also planning cameras though), so more pleasant for me if its later/warmer.
 

windand rain

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Yes I do breed natives now but used to breed TBs and sport horses still think a March foal is best especially as most years the Spring weather is usually better. Gives a rising plane of nutrition for both mare newly in foal and foals as they start grazing. It also means the foal can be weaned in slightyly better weather.
 

Gloi

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Yes, I'm in no hurry to wean so that sounds like a good plan. Did your mare cope alright still feeding the foal during winter months? My mare takes quite a lot to keep weight on.
I've only had a few native type foals and I have left them on the dam until spring. They are wintering out and the mare a very good doer and winters well and the foal Winters very well and weans very easily when the spring grass comes through. Wouldn't be as easy with a less robust sort of mare and foal though or if the mare was back in foal.
 

Marigold4

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In the end I chickened out. Watched one too many videos of foals getting stuck and then a mare at the stud nearby ripped herself apart and died trying to get foal out. I've not got the b***s risk it.
 

Caol Ila

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If it makes you feel better, OP, my mare had a smooth, textbook delivery, and she's a good mom, despite her young age. I'd also read up on all the bad stuff and was in a state of panic. If there had been a choice, it would have put me off breeding. This mishegoss wasn't even something I'd wanted or planned for, so that added to the stress. However, unlike Millipops, I was not apologizing to the mare beforehand, no matter how miserable and uncomfortable. Rather, I explained that this situation was entirely the result of poor life choices she'd made many months before I was remotely in the picture. As you do with pregnant teenagers.
 

Abi90

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In the end I chickened out. Watched one too many videos of foals getting stuck and then a mare at the stud nearby ripped herself apart and died trying to get foal out. I've not got the b***s risk it.
My mare also had a textbook delivery. In broad daylight. In the field. With no assistance. Foal was up and nursing within 45 minutes
 
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