Stallion Management: Excerpt from Breeders' Guide to Mare, Foal & Stallion Care

General considerations for good stallion management are maintenance of the stallion in excellent health and a stress-free environment that promotes normal sexual behavior and sperm production. The size and construction of housing for the stallion is generally a matter of personal preference. However, stallions should not be maintained in complete isolation but should be able to see mares and other stallions. The type of housing used for stallion in Central Kentucky would appear to be ideal. The majority of these stallions are maintained in a barn containing several stallions, but each stallion has his own paddock separated from adjacent paddocks by double fencing. This allows a stallion to have considerable exercise and interaction with other stallions.

The requirements for exercise vary considerably with the individual stallion. Some stallions, given the opportunity, will exercise freely to the point of weight loss. Lazy, more complacent stallions might have to be force-exercised by lunging or hot walking. Exercise maintains a stallion in good bdoy condition so that he does not become too fat. Excess fat on a stallion will insulate the testicles and could affect semen quality. However, the major reason for exercise is to prevent boredom and maintain a good mental attitude and sex drive. Signs of boredom can include stall weaving, cribbing, and aggressive behavior. Some less-aggressive stallions can be maintained in a barn that also houses mares. At Colorado State University, stallions are housed in 12 by 12-foot stalls and alternate being turned out in 12 by 36-foot runs. Many farms invest significant money to ensure the safety and comfort of the stallion, as well as to provide attractive surroundings for promotion of their stallion.

The nutritional requirements of the stallion vary, depending upon his size, condition, work load, and temperament. During the breeding season, the work load for a stallion is greater than that of a performance horse, and, therefore, the stallion should be fed as an animal under heavy work conditions. This would include a good quality roughage at 2 percent to 3 percent of body weight, as well as 0.5%- 1% of a grain ration. An alternative would include adequate pasture supplemented by a good-quality hay, grain, and salt-and-mineral mix. During the non-breeding season, the stallion generally can be given maintenance ration. Typically, breeding stallions are overfed, which can affect their sex drives and seminal quality. The need for vitamin supplementation has not been documented for the stallion. In fact, supplementation of vitamins A and E had no effect on sperm production. Stallions also should be placed on a routine vaccination and deworming schedule. It is important that the stallion be given proper hoof and dental care as well.

--Christine M. Schweizer, DVM; Christina S. Cable, DVM; and E. L. Squires, PhD

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