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Fall Checks Needed To Protect Horse Breeder Investment

By Donald Stotts

STILLWATER - Horse owners involved with breeding and foaling mares should make several management checks this fall if they are to protect their investments in feed, housing and labor.

Most horse farm operators will conduct early fall pregnancy checks on bred mares because a small percentage of mares that were in foal at 45 to 60 days will lose pregnancy in later gestation, said Dave Freeman, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service equine specialist.

"A veterinary examination of mares during the fall will allow time for follow-up treatment, and allow the mares to be handled with open mares for the upcoming breeding season," Freeman said.

But that alone is insufficient to ensure a successful horse breeding operation.

Freeman said vaccination and deworming schedules should be checked, especially vaccinations for rhinopnuemonitis.

"Body condition of the mares also should be noted," he said. "Mares in too thin a body condition should receive extra supplementation to gradually increase fat cover before the onset of cold weather."

Mares in a thin body condition will have delayed time of transition to the ovulatory season and will be less efficient breeders.

"Many producers will put mares under artificial lighting programs to hasten the onset of foaling or the ovulatory season," Freeman said. "In this way, they can breed the open mares for earlier foals, and spread out the mares to be bred to a stallion more evenly across the breeding season."

The first ovulation can be expected 60 to 90 days after initiation of an artificial lighting program. Thus, mares to be bred in February need to go under lights in November of the preceding year.

Finally, Freeman said fall is a good time to review the results of last year's breeding season. "Careful evaluation will reveal management practices that assisted or decreased overall foaling rates," Freeman said.

"This information, when combined with a fall inventory check of the breeding shed, will decrease the need for last minute changes in the horse farm's breeding program."


We would like to take this opportunity to thank Oklahoma State University for allowing us to provide you with this information.


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