The Horse-Breeding Deep Freeze

Is my stallion a good candidate to have his semen frozen for transport?

Using cryopreserved, or frozen, semen in the equine industry is becoming more popular in the United States, as well as worldwide. The ability to use a bloodline from one stallion across the world is advantageous for many reasons, such as limiting movement of the horses being bred, financially benefit and use of many stallions’ genetics that would otherwise not be available. Frozen semen can also be available long after a stallion has passed his prime fertility or after he is deceased. But how do you, as a stallion owner, know if your horse is a good candidate for this type of business? The first question would be to assess if the stallion’s genetics are valuable enough for the cost of freezing and storing the semen. Has he or his offspring produced enough to warrant breeding to him, and will his stallion breeding fee cover the costs to you? Often, a good producing stallion will be able to cover the cost of freezing with one or two breeding fees, making freezing a viable option.

Looking to expand your breeding program? Equine insemination can be a helpful tool to help manage your American Quarter Horses' reproductive schedule. For more information about this method, check out AQHA's  "Equine Insemination" DVD to learn more about the storage and shipping processes, as well as tips for successful mare insemination.

The next question is: Will my stallion freeze well? The answer can be complicated and is really only fully answered by having a veterinarian assess him and his semen quality directly. How a stallion’s semen quality looks can be one piece of the puzzle. Often, a stallion who has good motility when shipped or stored for a 24-48 hour period will have better semen quality post-freezing and -thawing than those who do not transport well. There can be many reasons that a stallion does not store or ship well, including damage to the sperm itself or its DNA. Unfortunately, just because a stallion ships well does not always guarantee that he will freeze well. There are several different freezing methods and extenders that should be used when assessing a stallion’s freezing ability. The methods vary in time and temperatures, while the extenders can have varied ingredients. The best option for the stallion owner would be to find a veterinary facility experienced in collecting and freezing stallion semen. The stallion may need to be with the veterinarian for only a few days or up to two weeks if he is a novice or has not been collected in a while. The best option, after determining which extender and method is best for your stallion, is to then breed a few test mares with that semen to make sure it is viable before shipping to mare owners.

As a horse owner and breeder, you cannot always manage the reproductive schedule of your American Quarter Horses. One decision that you may make is whether or not to use frozen semen. If you feel uninformed or just want more information, check out AQHA's "Equine Insemination" DVD.

Having frozen semen always on hand for your stallion can be very valuable in case of catastrophe (sickness or trauma to reproductive organs), to be able to transport semen across the globe and to have semen available at any time of the year. Finding out if your stallion is a viable candidate for use of frozen semen can be financially beneficial to you and your breeding program. Dr. Mancill is resident veterinarian and breeding manager at SDP Buffalo Ranch in Fort Worth, Texas, and is a Diplomate of the American College of Theriogenology.

AQHA Member Benefits

Are you looking for your next champion or backyard companion? AQHA's Breeder Referral Program can help you find breeders who will assist in the horse purchase process and can help you find stallion services for your mare, embryo transfer and shipped semen service, as well as mare and foaling services.  Try AQHA's FREE Find a Breeder program to find a nearby breeder and the horse of your dreams.