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When choosing a stallion for artificial insemination, finding out about their fertility is vital, but this is sometimes easier said than done.
For thoroughbreds conceived naturally, this data is available in the comprehensive annual Weatherbys’ statistical review, but, in many cases, the same information is not available for semen from stallions being used in an artificial insemination programme in the UK.
Is the semen fit for purpose?
It is a good idea to make enquiries about the level of experience of the stud or AI centre responsible for collecting semen.
As part of this you should ask about the health status of the stallion. This refers to tests that are undertaken to ensure his semen will not pass on venereal diseases such as equine viral arteritis, contagious equine metritis and other bacterial venereal diseases.
If originating from outside the UK, each shipment of semen is legally required to contain official health papers certifying the semen is free from these diseases.
Is the semen good quality?
There can never be a guarantee that any particular semen sample will result in a pregnancy, but as a mare owner you have a right to receive a semen sample when you ask for it, with correct health papers and of sufficient quality to enable a pregnancy in your mare.
One good way to obtain data about the quality of the semen shipped out is to ask the stallion owner or semen shipping centre if they can let you speak directly to any broodmare owners who have used their services.
Six questions to ask when choosing a stallion for artificial insemination:
• What are the stallion’s fertility results?
• Is the AI centre competent?
• Does he have health papers that you can view?
• How will the semen be packaged and transported?
• How many doses (for chilled semen) or straws (for frozen semen) will you receive and what are the terms of using them?
• Are there any restrictions on dates for semen collection?
For the full article on choosing a stallion for artificial insemination, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (11 February, ’10)
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