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Semen Collection from the Stallion and Handling for Artificial Insemination

By: Dr. Sylvia Bedford-Guaus

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Semen from stallions is usually collected with an artificial vagina with the stallion mounted on a mare in heat or a dummy mount. Freshly collected semen can then be evaluated and used for artificial insemination of mares.

To start a semen collection/artificial insemination program, minimum requirements include:

  • A breeding shed, optimally with a phantom mare or dummy mount
  • An artificial vagina and related supplies
  • Laboratory equipment, such as a microscope to evaluate sperm motility, a sperm counting machine to determine sperm concentration, an incubator to keep supplies warm, and miscellaneous utensils, such as microscope slides, pipettes and disposable plastic cups.

    Most stallions can be easily trained for semen collection with an artificial vagina provided both the handler and semen collection technician are experienced. The libido or sexual drive of the stallion and breeding experience of the stallion are also important factors to consider when training a stallion for semen collection.

    Artificial insemination programs with fresh semen provide excellent results as long as the semen quality is acceptable and the semen is handled appropriately after collection. It is also very important to breed the mare at the right time during her cycle; therefore, mares should be teased until they come in heat and then optimally evaluated by palpation and/or ultrasound to ascertain good breeding timing in relation to ovulation.

    The main advantage of performing artificial insemination with fresh semen is that one ejaculate can be split among several mares that are ready to be bred, therefore increasing the book of mares for a particular stallion in a given season. Performing artificial insemination also avoids the inherent risks of handling stallions and mares for natural cover, or breeding mares that do not stand well for breeding during heat.

    The main disadvantage of performing artificial insemination is the requirement for specialized equipment and training. If semen is not handled appropriately and timing of insemination is not accurate, pregnancy rates may be sub-optimal in artificial insemination programs.

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