Cooled Semen 101

What mare owners should know about artificial insemination.

Handling cooled semen is best done in an equine reproduction lab, like this one at Colorado State University. Journal photo

Today's mare owner has more breeding options than ever before. One of the options is artificial insemination with cooled/shipped semen, making it possible to breed your mare to any stallion in the country, without her leaving your property. Shipping cooled semen from the stud farm to the mare allows owners to control mare care and reduce transportation costs.

Because the mare and her foal if there is one at her side remain at home, there is less danger of injury or illness that might be encountered on a broodmare farm. In addition, mares in training or competition can be bred without interrupting their schedule.

So you've bred your mare. What color will the foal be? Download the Quarter Horse Coat Colors ebook and learn how all 17 recognized Quarter Horse colors are genetically derived. Then, make an educated guess!

The downside of using cooled/shipped semen is that it places much more responsibility on the mare owner. When your mare is sent to a broodmare farm, the farm accepts all responsibility for determining when she is in heat and getting her pregnant. Breeding with cooled/shipped semen is also more management-intensive for the mare owner than with on-site broodmare farm mating, because the mare owner is responsible for determining the precise day on which to breed.

The Quarter Horse Coat Colors ebook is a 12-part series on the equine genetics behind coat colors. This might influence your stallion choice when breeding your mare. Especially if she could produce a unique coat color like brindle or champagne.

A few things to remember when considering artificial insemination for your mare:

  • Book a stallion that has a proven record of providing semen that cools and ships well. Not all stallions do.
  • Ask the stallion manager who will cover the cost of stallion collection and semen shipping.
  • Read the breeding contract carefully to ensure that you understand your responsibilities as a mare owner and any guarantees being made by the breeder.
  • Have a detailed reproductive examination done before breeding season to ensure that your mare is healthy and fit to breed.
  • Visit with your veterinarian about the best method to monitor your mare for heat and the associated costs of monitoring her.