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EquineRepro@yahoogroups.com FAQ's about the stallion

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Q1: I have a 2 year-old stallion that is not producing a lot of sperm in his ejaculate [var: does not have good libido / does not show interest in mares etc.], should I be worried?
A: Although some stallions may be able to successfully breed as early as two (or even earlier in some cases), most decidedly not all stallions can. The best solution is therefore to evaluate him again as a three year-old and see if "things" have improved.
Q2: Can I learn to collect and ship my stallion's semen myself?
A: Sure! It's not difficult to do, but you will require some training and special equipment. There are some good articles on the subject at www.Equine-Reproduction.com that would be a good starting point, as they discuss what equipment is needed and how the process is performed. Equine-Reproduction.com also provide a semen extender calculator which does all of the calculations for you as to extension ratios and how much to use or ship, which is probably the hardest part of the whole process!!
Q3: I've never done this before, but I have a young stallion that I want to start breeding some mares with. How do I go about it?
A: If you are not familiar with handling stallions in a breeding situation, you would be well advised to find someone to help you the first few times that is, and is good at it (note that not all stallion handlers are good stallion handlers!). Stallions learn very rapidly in a sexual situation, and that can be good or bad - if the stallion is handled well, it is good, but if he is not then he will develop life-long bad habits very quickly! Do not rush a young stallion! If he is reluctant to breed, trying to rush him into something he is not comfortable with can have a permanent negative effect. Approach the mare from the side - NEVER from the back. Allow (and encourage) the stallion to "tank" to the mare, and tease her. Let him gradually work towards the back end of the mare, and watch the mare's reactions all the time - if she starts to behave negatively, move the stallion back up to the head end or away completely if it's a negative enough response! Use vocal commands to indicate that he may mount when everything looks safe to do so. If he wishes to mount without an erection, that is fine as long as the mare is compliant (if she is resisting, then obviously it is better not to push the odds!). Research has shown that allowing a stallion without an erection to mount a mare if he so desires will result in the whole breeding process taking less time that making the stallion wait to mount until he has an erection. And be sure to use lots of praise when he does things correctly!
Q4: My colt is 3 months old, and even though they were both "dropped" after birth, I can't find both his testicles - is he a cryptorchid?
A: Firstly, once testicles are dropped, they do not go "back up"! The inguinal ring closes typically within about 48 hours following birth, and if the testicles are through it at that point, they cannot be pulled back into the abdominal cavity. The next factor to consider is that colts (and stallions) will pull their testicles closer to their body in cool weather, and as a protective measure, so they may well simply be keeping them out of harms way! Finally, there are different forms of cryptorchidism, and it may be that the stallion has to second testicle retained in the inguinal ring, and it may yet descend - there have been recorded "descents" as late as 6 years of age! There is a more detailed article about cryptorchidism available at www.Equine-Reproduction.com
Q5: What is the difference between cooled and frozen semen?
A: The difference is pretty simply as the name suggests. Cooled semen is cooled to 5° C and will be viable for 24-48 hours from most stallions (this is stallion dependent) following collection, whereas frozen semen is stored frozen in liquid nitrogen at minus 196° C and will need to be inseminated in a window within 12 hours before to 6 hours after ovulation, but lasts for a reputed 50,000 years once frozen!
Q6: What do I need to freeze semen from my stallion?
A: The quick answer is "lots of experience and equipment"!!! Generally, even though a farm has been processing cooled semen successfully, they will prefer to contact a company that specializes in freezing semen to perform that process, as experience and good technique are important for the best results.
Q7: What equipment do I need for on-farm use of frozen semen?
A: You will need a nitrogen tank in which to store the semen, and thawing equipment. Thawing is neither difficult nor requiring of complicated equipment, and there is an article about thawing semen that gives greater details at www.Equine-Reproduction.com. Other than that, the same equipment can be used as for cooled semen (insemination pipettes, all-plastic syringes etc.)
Q8: I am interested in teaching my stallion to ground collect, is this something that I can do easily?
A: Maybe! Some stallions take to it very easily, some with more work, and others not at all. There is no hard-and-fast rule as to which will be easy to work with, but those stallions with good libido tend to be easier. Ground collecting is something will be more easily and safely achieved the first few times it is done by a stallion if the training is performed by someone with experience in the technique. Although it is not hard with most stallions, it can be tricky to get them to start! A good person on the head end is essential, as there will be a natural inclination in many stallions to want to mount something, and while this needs to be discouraged, doing so in an inappropriate manner can completely shut down the whole process! The person handling the AV will also need to be experienced and comfortable with the process, as - especially with early collections - they can be in quite a vulnerable position! Overall, it would be best finding someone to work with the stallion that has experience with the technique - it will be easier in the long run!