Breeding

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A recent poll on the Canadian Horse Journal website asked the question: Should equines be cloned? Some 83 percent of respondents said no, not until more research has been done; 15 percent said maybe, in special situations with strict parameters; just two percent said yes, and that registration of clones should be allowed.

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From bloodlines to athletic career to temperament, there are many different reasons to breed your mare. While the mare owner may have no trouble making the decision to breed their mare and choosing the perfect stallion, sorting through the myriad details involved in the actual breeding process can be challenging. Being informed about mares’ cycles and the different options for breeding can help make the breeding process go more smoothly, especially for first-time breeders.

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Colostrum - you know it as the mare’s first milk. It is a complex fluid, rich in nutrients and immune-regulating compounds, all designed to give the newborn foal the immune support he needs to thrive. Unlike humans who are born with an initial level of immunity, newborn horses do not benefit from any placental transfer of immunoglobulins; therefore, they must consume colostrum in the first few hours of life in order to survive.

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Recent advances in genetic research have paved the way for more effective identification and screening of genetic diseases in the horse. With these developments come new ethical considerations with respect to breeding practices, testing, and disclosure.

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Good nutrition throughout pregnancy is essential to the health of both mare and foal. Adjust your broodmare’s diet as gestation progresses to meet her changing nutrient needs.

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Traditionally, horse breeders look to the stallion for pedigree lines to produce the superior performance offspring with the desired characteristics of speed, conformation, and health. But the lineage of mares plays an equally important role not only in the genetic quality of the foal but potentially in the breeder’s selection for fillies or colts. In addition, a mare’s maternal heritage influences the length of gestation.

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When to Watch - When to Act - Ask anyone who has bred horses, and they’ll tell you it’s no easy feat. However, when it is done properly (and everything goes right), having an energetic and healthy foal is an exciting and rewarding experience. Dr. Stephen Manning is a board-certified theriogenologist and an associate professor at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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