From the Foaling Barn


Breeding Problems: MQFs (Mares of Questionable Fertility)


Next Thursday our excellent vet, Dr. Brian Dahms, is coming out early in the morning to perform a fertility assessment on my three open mares, Dry Sugar Rose, Smart Little Jewel, and Whizard of Ozwald.  Each one of these mares was bred multiple times last spring with differing but always disappointing results.  When Dr. Brian comes out next week, his basic work-up on each mare will include palpation, ultrasound of the uterus and ovaries, speculum examination of the cervix, uterine biopsy, and uterine culture by use of small volume lavage.  The biopsy will be sent out for evaluation and grading; the small volume lavage will be cultured for infectious agents.  After we get the results back, we'll decide how to proceed with each mare. 

During the next week, I'm going to write up a case history of each mare.  Then after the exams, I'll follow up and let you know what if anything we'll be doing differently to each mare before and during breeding season.

These three mares, at ages 19 and two at 17, are among my oldest mares.  Most mares' fertility begins to decline, sometimes precipitously, beginning around aged 17, so it isn't unusual to be facing breeding issues.  I'm willing to spend a little time and effort to try to get a few more foals out of each of these mares because they are three of my best mares.  They all have impeccable pedigrees, outstanding show careers, and/or have a strong  produce records.

At Last: The Orphans Have a Herd

Last week, our two orphan foals were three and half months old--and it was time. We fed the colts their last meal of milk replacer and with great trepidation led them out to the pasture to meet the six other weanlings they would be spending the next year with.

The six older weanlings were standing at the hay bale, and they all turned to look. There was a moment of quiet as the two groups sized each other up, and then pandemonium broke out. The orphans took off running with the six in hot pursuit.


Gradually, things calmed down and the two groups went to their separate corners.   When it came time to grain,  I was afraid Viktor and Colin would be too timid to stand their ground, so I put the grain in the pans and then went and stood between the orphans and the older weanlings until everyone was finished.  I did this for a couple of days and then decided to let nature take its course.  To my great surprise, when Armando and Mort tried to shoulder the orphans away from their feed pan, both Viktor and Colin double-barreled them.  Armando and Mort beat a hasty retreat, looking over their shoulders and I'm sure thinking,  "Wow, those guys are tough."  I was so proud of my little guys!

Since then while the orphans stick pretty close to each other, they are gradually insinuating themselves into the life of the little herd.  I'm feeling pretty confident that they will be well-adjusted horses.

The New Recipient Mares Arrive.

Our New Recipient Mares

Last week our two new recipient mares arrived from Royal Vista Southwest in Purcell, OK. We named them Michelle and Rosanne, after the owners of the stallions whose embryos each one is carrying. This way we keep it straight in our minds which mare is carrying which embryo--Michelle is carrying a Spooks Gotta Gun embryo and Rosanne is carrying a Smart Spook. We like to give them real names, because we treat them just like we treat our other mares. I hate it when recipients arrive with white plastic collars with their numbers emblazoned in black. I know this is a necessary evil at big farms, and most big time horse owners don't get so attached to their horses that they care about the anononymity of recipient mares. But we're small time and and relatively new to breeding horses. All our mares are well-loved and well-cared for, and we take care of them personally every day.

Both mares are big and handsome. I'm really interested to see the foals they produce, because our donor mare, Shin N In The Finals, is a short, stocky mare, and all of her foals so far have been small like her. I'm hoping these big mares will produce bigger foals. However, I've read many academic studies that all say there will be only minor difference in the ultimate size of the foals, no matter how big or small the recipient. Well, this should be an interesting experiment.

Michelle, a handsome, bay is pretty laid back. She leads well and is nice to be around. Rosanne, a sorrel who appears to be the dominant one, is head shy and we've been having a little trouble getting a lead rope on her. But both mares are in isolation for two weeks--in stalls at night and together in a small paddock during the day. We've been working with Rosanne everyday while we have her confined, and she's getting much better about letting us clip on the lead rope. She's fine once we have her and she leads quietly. She's very attached to Michelle, and wants to follow her, so she now comes to the gate immediately if I take her friend out. I'm sure she'll be just fine.

We isolate all new horses who come to the farm. When we send our own mares down to Texas to be bred, , they, too, spend two weeks in isolation when they come home, just to make sure they haven't brought back any diseases. I especially like this practice with recips, because it gives me a chance to get to know them and assess their personalities.

How He Got This Way

This is Colin. At three months of age, he is big, well-muscled, straight-legged, and handsome. His eyes are bright; his coat shiney.  Colin is an orphan, fed from age three days on milk replacer. While many commercial milk replacer are quite good, we credit Colin's good health to these two products, Silky Coat Milk Replacer and Silky Coat Milk Pellets.

Perhaps the reason that it has proven to be such a good substitute for mother's milk is because it is made by a local company that specializes in making species specific milk replacer, Royal Milc, in Lakeville, MN, about 45 minutes from our farm. It is made up fresh every week right before our wonderful feed rep, Travis Lemke, picks it up and delivers it to our farm. Freshness is important in milk replacer because it contains a great deal of fat and can become rancid if it sits on a shelf too long.

I just started feeding the last bags of milk replacer and pellets tonight. We plan to wean the orphans next week and turn them out in pasture with other weanlings. I have absolutely no connections to Royal Milc, except as a customer, so this product endorsement is completely unsolicited and heartfelt. I truly believe this product gave my beautiful orphans the best start in life they could possibly get.


Colin and Pappita

Allogrooming or social grooming is common behavior in humans and many animal species, expecially in horses. Allogrooming is practiced by almost all horses living is herds, but it is most prevalent among mares. Mares tend to form long term pair bonds in which allogrooming is an important acitivity. In feral herds, mare bonding and allogrooming create herd cohesion and defuse aggressive behavior. Because it increases endorphins and diminishes stress, allogrooming is also beneficial to the well-being of individual mares.

Mares groom more than stallions or geldings, fillies groom more than colts, and young horses groom more than older horses. Allogrooming pairs tend to be loyal to one another over time. They tend to be similar in age but not necessarily rank. The one exception is the pair formed by dam and foal. The foal will begin to exhibit allogrooming behavior toward its mother within three days of birth, and begin to groom other foals within a few weeks.

When we put our old mare, Pappita Sunrise, out with the orphans, she eventually accepted Colin and allowed him to nurse. I often wondered if she accepted him and not Viktor because he is the same color as she and actually looks like he could be her own foal. However, he was much more persistent in wooing her. It took him several weeks until she was willing to let him nurse. I should say here that we realize he's getting nothing nutritional from her, but we are glad he was able to form this bond with her so that he would have a more normal foal experience.

And part of that foal experience he is having is allogrooming with his foster mom. But even before he and Pappita formed their bond, Colin and Viktor groomed one another. Colin was only with his mother Jodie for three days, but he may have experienced allogrooming behavior with her. But Viktor never had that early foal experience, so his embrace of allogrooming must be seen as instinct.

But even if it is only an instinct, to we humans it's an endearing trait in horses.

Arrivals and Departures: Recipient Mares



One of our wonderful recipient mares.

Tomorrow, our good friend Travis Hochstatter from The South Farm in Whitesboro, Texas, is bringing up our two recipient mares from Royal Vista Southwest. The new recipient mares are carrying two embryos from our mare Shin N In The Finals. Shiney foundered after treatment for a retained placenta. While she has recovered, she sustained some damage to one of her hooves which we will need to monitor carefully for the next year. We decided it would not be safe for her to carry her own foal this year. Because she is our most promising young mare, we also decided to try for two embryos. After some early difficulties we were successful with embryos from breedings to Smart Spook and Spooks Gotta Gun.

Both recipient mares have been checked for heartbeats and are now ready to come to their new home for the next year. While there are many great reproduction centers throughout the country, Dr. Brian likes to use Royal Vista Southwest in Purcell, OK. Royal Vista has one of the oldest and most respected ET programs in the country, and we have had an excellent relationship with them for the past eight years.This year we had two wonderful recips, who carried foals by Spooks Gotta Gun and Big Chex to Cash. They were both great mothers, easy to handle, and good with other mares and foals. The first to return to OK is a handsome black mare (the one in the rolling pictures at the top of the page). We have not weaned the foal off the other mare yet. She will probably be with us till October.

The new mares arrive tomorrow night. They will be in isolation for two weeks in stalls in the foaling barn. Once they are out of isolation they will join the other pregnant mares whose foals have already been weaned. While it is sad to see last year's mare leave, we are excited to have the new mares join us.

Our other 2012 recipient mare, the mother of Mrytle by Big Chex To Cash, out of our mare Dry Sugar Rose.

Updates: Shiney, Orphans, and Erhlichiosis

Now that foaling and breeding season is over, there's nothing too exciting happening on the farm, so I thought I'd update a few earlier stories.Shiney, our mare who foundered after foaling, seems finally to be out of danger. Since the crisis stage of the laminitic episode five months ago, Shiney has never been entirely sound. Last month her lameness suddenly became much worse as the result of a large abcess. We began to worry that the laminitis had returned. However, within a week, Shiney just as suddenly began to walk normally--she looks completely sound. We now wonder how long that abcess had been brewing. She no longer needs her Soft Ride boots, or the lilly pads, or any special shoes. She is barefoot and turned out in a small paddock. Dr. Brian does not want her to be out with the other mares until the damaged area of her hoof is completly grown out. He is concerned that the hoof wall below the damage is too fragile to stand much pressure and if it were to crumble we would have another crisis on our hands. So for the time being, she'll remain in the barn at night and turned out in her paddock with Jewel during the day.We had another case of erhlichiosis a few weeks ago, our second of the year. One of the yearlings (Finn) failed to come to his feed pan. When we took his temperature it was only slightly elevated, but we were still suspicious. We waited an hour and found the temp had gone up about a half a degree. An hour later, it was up again. So we called the vet and relayed our belief that we had another case of erhlichiosis. The vet came out, took some blood and gave Finn the first of five daily shots of tetracycline. The bloodwork came back positive. Usually, by July, the ticks have disappeared, but for some reason, the warm, wet summer perhaps, this year we are still seeing ticks on the dogs, horses and even ourselves.Now as to the Ophans--they look fabulous. In fact, I think they look better than the foals who've been nursing for five months on their dams. They are big and well muscled, with nice straight legs and beautiful, shiney coats. They turn three months next week, at which time we will wean them completely from the milk replacer. Right now they are only drinking about three quarts a day, supplemented with milk pellets, grain and supplement (we use Assurance Alfalfa Balancer). They are also offered all the hay they want. As soon as we wean the last three foals, we plan to put them and the orphans together.


Big Chex To Cash breeding breeding problems in mares broodmare death Chatsberry Farm dams with insufficient milk discounted breedings erhlichiosis foaling Gunner horse breeding infertility in mares laser surgery to remove ovarian cysts in mares milking out the mare NRHA Futurity nurse mares older mares orphan ovarian cysts pre-foaling vacinations recipient mares Reining Horses reining stallions south farm stallion selection Tickborne horse disease uterine infection varicose veins Air Ride Boots allogrooming Americasnextgunmodel Anaplasma phagocytophila angiosis BH Song and Dance bottle feeding foal breeding breeding decisions Breeding mares breeding older mares breeding problems breeding problems in mares breeding program Breeding Season Broodmare broodmares chatsberry farm death deciding of stallions to breed to Diet dripping milk dystophia embryo transfer Equine Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis extra expenses feeding the foal foal alert Foal Alert System foal heat Foal heat breeding foal rejection foal socialization foaling foals foals in cold weather Founder Gunner horse behavior horse breeding Infertile mares laminitis laminitus late term bleeding lost colostrum low IGG test maiden mare update Maiden mares mare death mare gestational length mare intertility mare loss mares mares of questionable fertility milk replacer minnesota Nursing nursing problems Ocytocin old mare older broodmares orphan foal orphan foals ovarian cysts ovarian cysts in mares pinching twins Placentitis proper maintenance Recipient Mares retained placenta rhino vacinations in mares rotavirus bacines in mares rotavirus in foals Royal Vista Scott Mccutcheon sinking of the coffin bone sire and dam auctions social grooming Soft Ride Boots stallion auctions treating breeding problem in mares treatment for rotavirus treatment for uterine infection uterine infections uterine inflamation weaning weaning foals winter young mares


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