If you are planning on breeding your mare through artificial insemination, here are some questions to keep in mind when speaking with a breeder:
• How many live sperm cells are in the semen? 500 million and over is considered “good.” “When I ship semen, I send over 2 billion sperm cells in an 50 mL dose that I know, by evaluating, are good,” said Tish Quirk.
• What days of the week does the breeder collect semen? Some breeders only collect three days a week, while others, like Quirk, collect Monday through Friday with weekend collections available, although airline shipment is required.
• Check the number of insemination doses in the contract, since every contract varies.
For example, when breeding to one of Quirk’s stallions, “the first collection is included in the contract and after that they have to pay a collection fee,” said Quirk, who quickly added, “but if it gets into the second or third cycle and the mare is still not pregnant, I need to talk to the client about what the problem is because I always evaluate the semen before I send it, so I know it’s good semen.”
• If the semen is frozen, request to have all doses shipped at once, because you have to pay to rent a dry shipper, which usually costs anywhere from $150 to $200.
• Ask the breeder what the stallion’s conception rate is with the particular type of semen you want to use (fresh, cooled or frozen) and keep in mind that this rate doesn’t need to be percentages, but can be the number of impregnated mares.
• Is the semen evaluated and if so, how? Is every dose evaluated or is just one dose evaluated at the beginning of the breeding season?
• In the event that the mare has a reaction to the extender in the semen, does the breeder have another extender available? Can antibiotics be changed if the mare has a problem?
• Make sure the stallion is negative for any diseases that can be transferred to the mare, such as EVA, or vaccinate your mare against them beforehand.
“If someone is going to ship semen in here to use, I have to have certification that it is EVA-free,” said Quirk.