Breeding

Studly Seniors Part 2

More tips for keeping your stallion healthy and productive for breeding into his golden years.

A continued article from last week’s post, Studly Seniors Part 1.

Stallions can successfully reproduce well into their senior years with proper management.

You’ve heard the success stories of stallions who reproduce well into their 20s. There’s no magic potion. These breeders are simply meticulous about the care of their stallions, monitoring all aspects of their lives – from turnout to nutrition to collection schedules – to keep attitudes happy and avoid burnout at all costs.

Continue to read on for the last of these 17 tips on maintaining your stallion for a lengthy breeding career.

10. Time breedings with optimal mare ovulation.

“As stallions age, their sperm quality drops, and they produce fewer viable sperm,” explains Joe.

“The sperm might be ejaculated dead, and those alive might not do the job as well as they used to. They might not live long enough to fertilize the egg. We have to do more intensive management to time inseminations as close to optimum time of ovulation to have any success.”

11. Pasture breed.

“Older studs are easier to keep happy in a pasture,” Jack said. “I’ve had good success with it.”

Every stallion owner hopes their horse will truly make an impact on the industry. Read about the tremendous influence of American Quarter Horse stallion Doc Bar in AQHA’s report The Doc Bar Bloodline.

12. Ease up on collection.

“What hurts an older horse is overuse,” Greg says.

“It’s different today than it was 25 years ago. When a mare was ovulating, she had to be bred, so you had to use that stallion. Today, I can collect a stallion and put the semen away and breed a mare 48 hours later.

“That saves your horse. You breed your mare today, then you put 30 ccs of it away. You wait two days and breed another mare with it, so you don’t have to collect him again.”

13. Incorporate a dark cycle.

“Stallions need to go through a dark cycle every year,” Carol says.

“Many farms keep their stallions under artificial lights year-round. That is absolutely wrong. They need to go through a dark cycle in fall and winter. Then when it’s spring, their systems know to gear up for sperm production.”

Horses kept under artificial lights year-round can experience libido problems, she says.

“Dark cycles are part of the natural breeding cycle of the horse, helping make sure foals are born in the spring, when they have the best chance of survival.”

14. Make accommodations.

“Older stallions can tend to get arthritic or sore, so we adjust the height for the mounting dummy and administer joint supplements if needed,” Joe says.

“You also might have to adjust collection methods. Their libido decreases a little, so you might need an increased amount of teasing time.”

Adams suggests teaching your older stallion to collect standing up, which helps relieve stress on the hind legs. “Some take to it well,” she says.

“If you can get them to collect without having to jump on a phantom, it can certainly reduce strain. They’ll need a surface to lean against to ejaculate standing up, which you’ll need to create on an individual basis.”

The standing position can be an effective way to breed older stallions with soreness and joint pain, she explains.

15. Allow socialization.

“Keep stallions in close proximity to other horses, whether stallions or mares, as a stimulus,” Joe says.

“You’ve got to keep them separate to some extent, but if they can see and vocalize with other horses, that helps. Studies show that visual stimuli help them. They’re herd animals, so they’re happiest when they’re with a group.”

Appropriate measures need to be taken with an older stallion to assure he is producing the way you hope. Doc Bar’s last foal was born in 1978. Though he was turned in with a band of mares the year before, only one of them settled. The Doc Bar Bloodline is a motivational story for any stallion owner or American Quarter Horse enthusiast.

16. Offer pasture time.

“Pasture turnout is good for any horse’s mind, to let him relax and unwind,” Jack said.

“It keeps him from being bored of standing in a stall. But it doesn’t help with discipline. You’ve got to establish that.”

Judy says, “We made sure Doc Tom Tucker had green grass, a nice lot to play and run in with shade, and a nice stall to get out of the weather,”

“With older stallions, you have to make sure they’re really happy and comfy. They need to get plenty of sunshine and free-choice exercise.”

17. Find a friend.

“A friend is important, whether it’s a gelding, a goat or a sheep,” says Judy.

“I’ve handled stallions that were very aggressive, and the more we isolated them, the worse they got. We found out that if we put them somewhere where they could be next to a horse or another animal, they weren’t as aggressive. They were being bad because they were lonely. Isolation isn’t a good thing for them. They’re social animals, and they need friends.”

Experiment until you find a companion your older stallion likes, Judy recommends.