Finding a Suitable Cooled Semen Facility

Q:I'm considering using shipped cooled semen for my mare. I want to find a reliable farm/facility to take the shipment and breed her. How do I find a qualified facility? What questions do I need to ask about quality? Is there a site or a book to inform me about this?


A: Equine practitioners offering ambulatory services can often provide this service on the farm. However, few would argue that fertility can be optimized by taking your mare to a facility that offers specialized services. It's important that those providing these services be experienced, as management of the mare before and after insemination can be intensive and costly. The best way to locate a veterinarian or facility that provides high-quality service is probably by word of mouth. In particular, you want to quiz someone who has used a facility or veterinarian and has been satisfied with the work and outcome. Ask if that person would use the facility or veterinarian again.

Other handy tools for finding a veterinarian in your area include the American Association of Equine Practitioners' (AAEP) online directory ( and the American College of Theriogenologists' web site ( for finding a local reproductive specialty veterinarian. Local yellow pages and state veterinary organizations are also good resources. Ask veterinarians in your area if they perform breeding management of mares for cooled semen shipments.

Topmost on your list of questions should be whether the veterinarian or facility providing these services is experienced with the procedure, and what success rates they have experienced in the past. The success rates will vary with stallions and mares; if fertile mares and stallions (which produce semen that cools well) are used, fertility should approach that achieved by breeding with fresh semen-which should be a 50-80% pregnancy rate per cycle. A veterinarian who provides services on the farm might not offer assessment of the semen quality used to inseminate your mare, as it is difficult to transport all of the equipment required to perform this evaluation.

However, many practitioners might be able to take a sample of the cooled semen back to a laboratory for analysis. You will find semen evaluation important if your mare does not become pregnant (good semen quality prior to processing does not always translate into good semen quality after cooling and transport).

Ask your veterinarian (and potential breeding facilities) for reading material to acquaint you with this procedure so you know what to expect. AAEP members have access to guidelines they can distribute to clients. There also are numerous published articles and current equine reproduction texts on this subject.

About the Author

Terry L. Blanchard, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT

Terry L. Blanchard, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, is a professor of theriogenology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at Texas A&M. He has published numerous manuscripts relating to stallion reproduction and is primary author of the popular textbook, Manual of Equine Reproduction. As a a stallion reproductive consultant, his research interests focus on testicular function and development of new approaches for diagnosis and treatment of stallion subfertility.

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