Why Freeze Stallion Semen?

Work with a practitioner or facility experienced in collecting and freezing semen to ensure the finished product will be accessible for years to come.

Photo: Courtesy Sandro Barbacini, DVM

By Sandro Barbacini, DVM, WEVA Board Member

Breeders freeze stallion semen for a variety of reasons—so the horse can compete during breeding season; for export; or for the future in the event he dies, is injured, or contracts an illness that prevents him from breeding. But there are other reasons, as well, which we’ll explore in this article.

Better Quality Control

Frozen semen allows veterinarians to prescreen stallions for infectious diseases and conduct a post-thaw analysis of motility (movement), concentration, and bacterial growth. Thus, mare owners and veterinarians can breed with confidence they are receiving high-quality semen.

Double-Duty Stallions

A stallion owner might train a competition stallion to be collected for semen freezing when the animal is not scheduled to be in training or the show ring. This allows the stallion owner, trainer, and horse to concentrate on one goal at a time.

Freeze Semen Prior to Gelding

Stallions are gelded for a variety of reasons, such as for health reasons, in attempts to improve behavior, to allow them to live a less solitary life, and even to be shown by young equestrians. If a horse’s semen is frozen prior to gelding, he can continue to product offspring even after the fact.

Convenience and Mare Owner Preference

Once frozen, semen can remain in storage for an indefinite period. It can be shipped well-ahead of when it’s needed. And once it has arrived at its final destination, it can be ready and waiting for when the mare needs to be bred.

Additionally, some mare owners prefer to use frozen semen because it can be shipped at the beginning of breeding season and they can purchase enough semen for the entire breeding season for one or more mares.

More Cost-Effective

Creating a facility that specializes in processing, storing, and shipping frozen semen might be more appealing to a stallion owner than building a facility and paying staff to collect him regularly for cooled semen shipments.

For example, it costs about $300 per ejaculate to have semen collected and processed for a cooled semen shipment. If only two doses of cooled semen are required from the collection, the cost per dose works out to $150. Alternatively, the cost to freeze the same ejaculate would be approximately $500. But, if six doses of frozen semen can be processed from the single ejaculate, the cost per dose is $83.33.

Preserve a Genetic Line or Breed

Some owners have genetic lines in their breed that they wish they could dip into today or in the future. While those stallions might have progeny of breeding age, it’s not the same as actually having semen available from one of these great sires to reintroduce into the genetic population. Freezing semen can also help preserve the genetics of rare breeds, such as the Exmoor Pony in the United Kingdom.

The Bottom Line

Whether you are thinking of freezing semen from your stallion because you want your son or daughter to show him, you’d like to preserve his genetic line for the future, or for any other reason, it is best to do it sooner than later. Work with a practitioner or facility experienced in collecting and freezing semen to ensure the finished product will be accessible for years to come.

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