From the Foaling Barn


Foal Heat Breeding

I'm considering breeding two of my younger mares on their foal heats this year. As I see it, there are two reasons to breed on the foal heat. First, with a mare who foals in mid to late May, you generally have only one or two chances to get her back in foal. Breeding on the foal heat gives you one more. But more importantly, unless you breed on a foal heat every two or three years, you are inevitably going to end up with an open mare every four to six years.
Even if you successfully catch your mare every year on the 30 day heat (which is highly unlikely), your mare will not ovulate until 35 days, which means every year your mare moves up. Eventually, her thirty-day heat will fall in June.

About eight years ago, I took the week-long Equine Reproduction course at Colorada State University. The staff who taught the class were very positive about foal heat breeding. Dr. McCue, in particular, thought it was important in any breeding program. He recommended ultrasounding your mare at nine days. If she has not ovulated yet, then proceed as you would with any breeding. Ovulations after nine days, have almost the same pregnancy chance as a 30-day heat ovulation. For a mare who ovulates before nine days, Dr. McCue recommends administering Prostanglandin which will short cycle your mare.

There are some caveats about foal heat breeding however. It is not recommended for older mares, or mares who suffered any sort of trauma at foaling, or who failed to deliver their placentas in a timely manner. Most older mares usually have some problems, poor confirmation, uterine cysts, chronic inflamation, etc, that make it difficult for these mares to rid themselves of the detritus of the recent birth. Foaling trauma and retained placentas also compromise the mare's uterus, making it unlikely that foal heat breeding will be successful.

With an easy breeder, foal heat breeding works great. My mare Smart Sugar Pop, was bred successfully on the foal heat for three straight years. Her string of foal heat breedings was broken when she had a retained placent which she eventually expelled, but not until four hours after foaling. We checked her for ovluation at nine days. She was not in heat so we checked her three days late, and still nothing. Finally, when she showed no sign or a foal heat at eighteen days, we drew a small volume lavage, cultured it and found that she was infected.

I have three mares having May foals this year. One is Jodie, the seventeen year-old mare who is leaking milk and bleeding from a vaginal varicose vein--not a good choice for a foal heat breeding. The next one due is BH who is 23 years-old--enough said. But the last one, Icy, due May 28, is a five year-old maiden mare. If all goes well with the foaling, she should be a good candidate for a foal heat breeding.

I'll report on the result.


Icy (Ice Cold Dunnit) in Foal To Magnum Chic Dream


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