North America, it’s time to prep your mares and stallions for breeding season. Are you ready for spring?
Although the calendar says it’s still fall, and the first snowfalls are only just appearing on weather maps across the country, the spring breeding season begins early for many horsemen. With breeding sheds opening in February, the time to make sure horses are in optimal shape and hormonal balance for breeding season is already upon us.
Physical Fitness: Just getting a mare to ovulate and conceive requires an excellent body condition. Thin or overweight mares are poor candidates for a successful breeding. Make appropriate adjustments to her nutrition and exercise now, working with a vet for special cases.
Stallions are expected to be quite physical in the breeding shed, so their fitness should be considered before the season begins. A physically fit stallion is less likely to suffer stress injuries to the back and hind legs from collection or breeding. A warm-up before breeding can be beneficial as well.
Preventive Care: In addition to dental work, vaccinations, and deworming, have a pre-breeding exam and uterine culture early. All your work getting your mare cycling will be wasted if she fails an exam immediately before a breeding appointment, and it can take several cycles to recover from an infection.
Stallions should also have a comprehensive check before the start of breeding season. Your veterinarian will be looking for signs of several infections that can affect the stallion, mares he breeds, and even the resulting foals.
Regular Cycles: If you’re shooting for an early breeding, start keeping your mares under lights by early December so they’ll begin to cycle regularly. Mares with early foals may stop cycling after their foal heats, so they should be kept under lights as well. Keep in mind that the standard lighting found effective is 200-watt incandescent bulb, or as a rule of thumb, just enough to read a newspaper in the stall. For more information on other benefits or keeping horses under lights read my earlier post, https://equinefacilitydesign.com/equine-care/light-coats-dos-donts-keeping-horses-show-ready-lights.htm.
It’s true: getting your mares and stallions fit and healthy for the breeding season requires a little pre-planning just when you’d like to relax for a few weeks! But the extra work will be well worth it come spring.