The Different types of Breeding Explained

For a better chance of breeding success, modern reproductive methods are offered. But what do the abbreviations mean and which is right for your mare?

There are 4 types of breeding methods: the AI, ET, ICSI and OPU.

The AI – Artificial Insemination is the most commonly used in equine breeding. This involves a series of ultrasound examinations and medications to ensure the mare is inseminated close to ovulation. Fresh semen must be used within 3 hours and it can be supplied chilled or frozen. This will depict how the mare will be managed.

After 24 to 48 hours, chilled semen is viable after collection. So, it must be ordered and couriered following careful monitoring of the mare. Ovulatory drugs help to ensure follicles ovulates within the correct time frame.

Frozen semen must be stored appropriately and can be used over a time period of many years. Increased veterinary input is needed to time the insemination for the best pregnancy results. This aim is to inseminate the mare within six to eight hours of ovulation, so repeated ultra sounds, possibly overnight, are required.

The advantages include a worldwide stallion market opens up due to AI. However, if you are considering a non-UK stallion, it is advisable to use an experimented semen agent due to Brexit regulations.

ET – Embryo transfer involves inseminating a donor mare, then ‘flushing’ her uterus seven to eight days later to collect the embryo. It is then transferred into the uterus of the horse surrogate who carries the pregnancy. The advantages are that this process can be repeated multiple times to produce more foals a year. It is suitable for competition horses.

ICSI – Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is used in conjunction with OPU (which is spoken about in the next paragraph). A single sperm in injected into the matured oocyte which is incubated properly and in the right conditions to encourage the development of an embryo. This takes up to 9 days. The advantages include an efficient way of using semen. A single straw can be used multiple times.

OPU – Ovum pick-up is the collection of oocytes from the ovarian follicles of the mare. The collection process is performed with the mare standing, with the mare standing, under sedation with epidural anaesthesia. The advantages are that OPU is a better option for mares with fertility problems. It is ideal for the busy competition mare.

There are many ways for reproducing to ensure a healthy foal and the mare stays perfect!