Equine Reproduction

Ironmines Veterinary Clinic in combination with Dr Karim Kooros from Retford Equine Veterinary Clinic can assist with breeding horses in the Southern Highlands area. Breeding services include: staging the mare’s reproductive cycle, Artificial insemination and pregnancy diagnosis.


Dr Lloyd Scanning a mare to help time breeding the mare

Dr Lloyd Scanning a mare with rectal ultrasound

Mare Reproduction

Breeding soundness evaluations

The first step in preparing your horse for breeding is to perform a Breeding Soundness Exam, where the vet performs a full physical evaluation of your mare suitability for breeding.

Assessment of the mare includes an external physical exam, rectal palpation, rectal ultrasound and vaginal exam to assess the mare’s physical fitness for breeding as well as the condition of her reproductive organs. Further testing can be performed at this stage, including clitoral swabs for transmissible venereal diseases or aseptic uterine swabs to check that the environment within the uterus is ready for mating. Some problem mares that have a history of not conceiving may require additional diagnostic testing.

Manipulating onset of oestrus and pregnancy

The best results come from breeding within the 48 hour period prior to ovulation. This can be difficult to time, and may not fit with stallion or technician availability. We can assist you in manipulating the onset of oestrus to better suit your needs with specially timed ovulatory agent medication.

Post breeding check

After breeding or artificial insemination the mare’s uterus can become excessively inflamed. This inflamed uterus is hostile to the fertilised embryo. To help optimise the chances of conception the uterus can be treated with a combination of lavages and medication. Additional surgical procedures like a ‘caslick’ can be done after breeding in mares that have a poor breeding confirmation.

Assisted reproduction

Natural mating vs artificial insemination

When deciding between artificial insemination and natural service, it’s important to consider your breed standards, facilities available to you and cost. Thoroughbreds are only able to be registered if they are from a natural service, whilst artificial insemination can provide valuable international genetics for performance horses. The mechanics of natural service are proven to work, whilst AI can allow the genetics of stallions from interstate or different countries to be used. Whatever your choice, Ironmines have the facilities and expertise to assist you in your plans for mating, and we have the facilities to work with fresh, chilled or frozen semen.

Pregnancy monitoring

Routine palpation and US protocol

The health of the foetus and progression of the pregnancy can be monitored using a rectal ultrasounds. At Ironmines we routinely perform the following checks:                                                                                                                     

  • 1st scan – d14-16
    • Detect and reduce twins prior to horn fixation                                              
  • 2nd scan – d20-22
    • Avoid missing a twin                                                              
  • 3rd scan – d32-34                                                                    
    • Ensure normal progression
  • 4th scan – d45             
    • Pregnancy confirmation for industry and insurance purposes
    • Assessment of normal foetal development


Stallion Reproduction

Ironmines Veterinary Clinic in combination with Dr Karim Kooros of Retford Equine Veterinary Clinic can offer semen collection for chilling or freezing. Collecting and processing stallion semen can allow it to be sent all over Australia or allow it to be frozen in liquid nitrogen for up to 20 years. All stallion semen collection and processing is done at 542 Kangaloon Rd, Bowral in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

Semen collection

Collecting semen for artificial insemination requires special handling to prevent injury to handlers or damage to the semen prior to use. We collect semen at our facility in Bowral. We prefer to collect stallions over a “dummy” and tease or arouse the stallions with a mare that has had her ovaries removed and therefore can be manipulated to be in oestrus when required.

Chilled Semen

Semen can be collected and processed for chilling. This involves adding an extender to the semen to allow the semen to be stored for a couple of days. By chilling the semen correctly, it can then be transported around the country to inseminate mares close to ovulation. Artificial insemination with chilled semen allows genetic material from superior stallions to be used without having to transport the mare, which can be more difficult if the mare has a foal at foot.  Once the semen has been collected and processed then a courier can be used to transport it under optimal cooled conditions.

Frozen Semen

Semen can be collected and processed for freezing in liquid nitrogen at -196oC. At this temperature semen can be stored for in excess of 20 years and can allow stallions that have long since passed away to continue to sire foals today. Freezing semen requires collection from the stallion then a range of processing with multiple stages. Unfortunately not all stallion semen freezes well but different combinations of extenders and freezing media can be experimented with to find the optimal freezing conditions for the stallions semen.


Written by Nina Matsumoto, Veterinary student,  July 2016 edited by Dr Lloyd Varga