Preparing for the Breeding Shed
Patrick J. Ford, VMD
It is important when preparing your mare for the breeding shed that you consult your veterinarian and breeding farm. The rules and requirements of each breeding farm can differ and it is important that you are aware of these and discuss them thoroughly with the breeding farm to insure your mare can be bred once you get to the shed. These requirements may include a clean culture, suitable for mating certificate (“Reproduction Certificate”), breeding shed form, breeding contract, and vaccination record, amongst others depending on the breeding farm and the reproductive status of your mare.
Choosing the right stallion to breed to is just as important as prepping your mare for the shed. You have to consider costs associated with breeding to a certain stallion, along with genetic factors and accessibility of the stallion. Choosing the most popular stallion will not always be your best choice. You will want to book early and have a well‐written contract that defines fees, guarantees, etc.
Your veterinarian will be able to guide you through the process of preparing your mare for breeding. It is important to start early and formulate a plan especially for barren and maiden mares. It is good practice to have your vet perform a breeding soundness exam (BSE) to evaluate the health and status of your mare’s reproductive tract. This should be performed before the breeding season to allow time to address any issues. Knowing what to expect from your mare will also help with teasing and keep you from missing ovulations.
A culture will need to be taken on your mare to evaluate the condition of her uterus. A uterine culture is performed by passing a pipette containing a swab through the cervix and sampling the uterine lining or endometrium. The culture and its results are best when performed on a mare during estrus or when she is in heat. If your mare is not in estrus during the exam, your vet may have you monitor her and have him back when she is displaying signs of estrus. The importance of a clean culture for breeding mares has been well established over the years. Not only is it important to protect the stallion from contagious organisms it is also not productive to breed infected mares because they rarely, if ever, conceive.
Once you have received a clean uterine culture and a suitable for mating status from her BSE it is important that you plan ahead and inform your vet of the requirements from the breeding shed for your mare in regards to a clean culture and vaccination.