Stallion Management

Housing facilities play a role in reproductive management. Stallions should be maintained where they have visual and vocal social, but not tactile, contact with other horses. With the exception of pasture breeding, the stallion should be housed in a stall or paddock by himself. He needs exercise, whether free or controlled, on a regular schedule. Stallions that do not get enough exercise may develop vices that lead to problems in the breeding shed. As important as housing are the facilities where breeding is performed. Stallions are creatures of habit and perform more consistently if this activity is conducted in the same place at each breeding or semen collection.

Nutritionists recommend that the stallion be fed to maintain adequate body condition (Body Condition Score of 6 7)[1] (Fig. 1). Those with a full book of mares may be breeding twice a day several days per week in a hand-mating program. Teasing mares along with breeding leads to increased energy requirements for the stallion during the breeding season. Preventive health care is essential. Immunization against infectious disease and regular deworming are the basis of a good health program.

Prior to each breeding season, the stallion should receive a breeding soundness examination (BSE). Most equine veterinary clinics can perform this service, providing valuable information on semen quality and the number of bookings the stallion can handle. The BSE is useful in estimating the stallion's potential fertility. In addition, the BSE characterizes the semen parameters necessary for establishing a breeding schedule for the stallion.

The stallion performs more consistently when maintained on a regular schedule during the breeding season. Semen collection three times per week (or every other day) yields the highest number of sperm for use in AI with the fewest number of collections.[2] In a hand-mating program, the stallion may be required to service mares on a more frequent basis. Provided that the stallion has normal semen characteristics, libido may be the most limiting factor in determining his breeding schedule.

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