Stud Farm Practice
At Scenic Rim Veterinary Service we consider our stud farm practice to be second to none in the district.
We pride ourselves in our reproductive service success which is reflected in the loyalty of some of Queenslands finest and largest thoroughbred stud farms.
Stud medicine and reproduction makes up a large part of our practice and as such our veterinary staff doubles during the breeding season to ensure we can cater to all the needs of our clients day and night. This means that mare owners can be confident they will get the care required to achieve optimal pregnancy rates and healthy foals.
Our aim is to provide the full package to mare and stud owners, complete from conception to yearling sales and everything in between.
Our senior vet David Ahern has made life even easier for stud managers to record and schedule the daily procedures of hundreds of mares using the StudWorks database software (see link on home page).
We also offer a breeding package for mares on stud to make budgeting for veterinary services even easier.
Artificial Insemination (AI) describes the process of introducing semen to a mare’s ovum (egg) for fertilisation without the need for natural mating with a stallion to occur.
At Scenic Rim Vet Service we have an excellent success rate with the use of both chilled semen (from anywhere within Australia) and frozen semen (stored in liquid nitrogen). The technique can also be used for fresh semen where there is physical reasons that natural mating is not possible.
The AI process allows mare owners to access the genetics from stallions all over the world. We have limited long term storage facilities for frozen semen on site but can make arrangements for semen storage locally given prior notice. Of course we will always ensure we have the semen with us during your mare’s stay.
Our purpose built reproduction facility at Scenic Rim vets allows us to provide full care for mares during the AI process, providing safe yards, paddocks and stables during their stay.
Our team of vets use the latest in techniques to ensure the mare’s best chances of conceiving. The AI process (especially with frozen semen) requires a much higher degree of timing than natural mating and as such mares are monitored around the clock.
We are happy to provide mare owners with an up to date list of costs for procedures involved in AI for the breeding season, which will include our agistment costs. It is wise to remember that the cost of your chosen stallion will in some cases only form half of your costs involved in obtaining a pregnancy.
Semen Collection – Chilled & Insemination
At Scenic Rim Veterinary Service we can offer semen collection from your stallion on site for transport as chilled semen or for storage as frozen semen.
The semen is collected using an artificial vagina while the stallion mounts an in-season “jump” mare or our custom made mounting dummy.
Semen collected for transport chilled can then be evaluated in our laboratory for quality and mixed with an appropriate “extender” ( a nourishing fluid for the sperm to swim in during transport). It will then be packaged in an insulated transport container and is ready to send off to the mare owner.
For frozen semen an initial appraisal includes use of two different semen extenders and two different freezing protocols to find which best suits your horse’s individual semen characteristics.
Approximately 1/3 of stallions will produce semen that once frozen is of high quality.
Another 1/3 of stallions will produce semen that once frozen is acceptable with some degree of manipulation.
The last 1/3 of stallions will not produce commercially acceptable semen no matter which protocol is adopted. This is generally reported by all laboratories that provide this service. If your horse’s semen isn’t compatible with the freezing process, then we will be unable to provide you with straws. We will not freeze and package semen that doesn’t meet our minimum post-thaw quality standards (ie: 30% live, progressively motile sperm is min. commercial standard)
The best age to freeze stallion semen is usually in the mid teens. Therefore, if your 4 year old stallion doesn’t freeze well, then try again in a few years time.
If you are going to present your horse for frozen semen collection, you must ensure he has ejaculated once a day for at lest three days prior to his initial assessment collection. We then recommend collection every second day for freezing.
Most people choose to collect semen for freezing either before or after the breeding season peak to allow the horse to continue with natural covers. Although the peak of horse sperm production is in Summer, the heat associated with the Jan – March period can cause a drop in sperm health at this time. For this reason we prefer to collect semen between July – Sept. If this period doesn’t suit your individual requirements, it may be applicable to collect at other times.
Embryo Transfer is the process involving the removal of a fertilized embryo from one mare (the “donor”), and placing it in the uterus of another mare (the “recipient”) to carry the pregnancy. This is usually done on young fertile donor mares that are still in athletic competition. This allows these elite competition horses to produce foals without having to loss competition time to carry the pregnancy and raise the foal.
Sometimes mares are used as donors if they have physical problems or fertility issues that prevent them from carrying a pregnancy naturally, although these mare often produce less viable embryos.
The process requires the donor mare to be bred (naturally or by AI). She then has her embryo “flushed” (with special fluid introduced to her uterus via a vaginal catheter) when it reaches approximately 7 days of gestation.
This fluid is then passed through a filter, which catches the embryo and this is then searched for with a microscope (as pictured) and moved into other special fluid media for transfer.
Embryos of this age are fairly resistant to trauma. The embryo pictured is a “morula”, which in a day or two will shed its outside layer and expand rapidly into a “blastocyst”.
The recipient mare needs to be at the same stage of her cycle as the donor at the time that she was served. Thus we normally keep multiple recipient mares in order to have a good chance of one having a compatible cycle with the donor.
The process is time consuming to both vet and owner, and requires patient dedication to achieve good results. We have a record of very good conception rates from this assisted reproductive technique, and perform many each year. We try to keep the majority of the ETs performed within the Oct – Dec period.
We have also been one of the only vets in Australia to successfully freeze and store embryos with the cryoloop vitrification method, we we believe this is superior to superceded methods.
The most common breeds that receive ET work are Warmbloods, polo horses, ASH and quarter horses. The foal pictured above is an ET foal that we produced from an imported dressage mare.