November Time to Begin Broodmare Estrus Program
by Donald Stotts
STILLWATER - The Halloween season is upon us, and horse owners who want more treat than trick come next breeding season should be implementing their early-season estrus program right after the holiday.
Artificial light is the most common method of achieving off-season breeding, said Dave Freeman, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service equine specialist.
"Mares' bodies don't recognize the difference between natural and artificial light," Freeman said. "Increasing the amount of daily light to 16 hours will cause cycling within 60 to 90 days."
To be effective, light should be added at the end of the day. It is not critical a mare get exactly 16 hours of light.
"There is a 30-minute leeway period, give or take," Freeman said. "However, it is important that lighting remain consistent."
The effect of artificial lighting may be lost if the mare does not receive light for as few as three days. Freeman said if the cycle is broken, the breeder must start the process over again. Mares must be kept on artificial light until about May 1 or cycling will stop.
"Breeders should remember that around-the-clock light has the same effect as no light," Freeman said.
An artificial light should be bright enough so that the horse manager can read a newspaper by it. A 12-feet by 12-feet stall normally will take a 200-watt bulb. If individual stalls are not available, mares should be kept in a lighted pen or area.
Freeman said horse breeders also should be planning now for potential management concerns with off-season estrus programs using artificial lighting.
"One common management concern is horses tend to shed hair," Freeman said. "This can be a problem in colder years and may require extra feed and shelter."
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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