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When is Mare Too Old to Breed Again?

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  • When is Mare Too Old to Breed Again?

    My Oldenburg has produced two beautiful foals (2008 and 2009) without complications. I am planning to breed her again in early 2013 but just realized that she will be 16 next year and 17 when she foals. Should I be concerned about her age?

    At what age do you typically stop breeding your mare, assuming no health issues or complications?

  • #2
    Mares can breed well into their twenties...my vet tells me it gets harder to get mares in foal if they aren't bred every year as they age.

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    • #3
      I have an amazing Dutch mare that had her first foal at 16 and is in foal again at 18.......go for it.......


      • #4
        Same as any other mare

        This is a middle(of her reproductive age) aged mare...that is not like a middle aged woman. Humans wind up reproductively around 45-55...mares don't and can continue reproductively sound even to 30+ if their general health holds up. There are many very good reasons not to bred a mare...age is not one of them. Evaluate the general condition of the mare and the success of her foals for your program. Many mares continue ro regularly cycle until they die. That doesn't mean she has a patent uterous to carry a foal...or that you CAN get her in foal...but her age will not be why she hasn't a patent uterous...or ovaries...or what ever makes them less or infertile. Even if an old mare has problems providing for a foal likely she was showing signs of not being in good condition herself.

        Seperately...as this mare wouldn't classify as a problem from information given. As to truly old mares, I know of a 30 plus mare who foaled this year...the slightly early foaling went very well...she is a great mother but the foal needs feed supplementation and had a slow start. Other mares in this herd are in their 20's and no foals or mares were lost so far, foals are thriving, all mares foaled in pasture with no assistance. Mare condition going into winter is very good. In this case the mares are pasture bred and if they are not fertile they are open grannies...maybe they might catch to a different stallion. Having a stallion with the mares does make some sub-fertile mares get in foal and hold onto their foals. If she had a herd of 20+ yo mares to get in foal with AI I am not sure the owner would be able to afford breeding these mares. The option of natural breeding in this case works. PatO


        • #5
          My first mare had her first foal at 16, and then again at 18, 19, 20, 21 and 23. After that she repeatedly got pregnant but reabsorbed before 60 days. She told us when it was time to retire.

          Never could get her bred with frozen but she was a cinch if the semen was fresh, and even had the last two out in a field! (never liked to be fussed over and waited till she could get outside)
          The rebel in the grey shirt


          • #6
            on average the fertility (ease of getting in foal) starts to decline after 16 or so but the real reason not to breed is if she had repro problems. Most of my old ladies have stopped getting in foal or started to develop uterine issues around the age of 21.
            Providence Farm


            • #7
              Mine caught this year, first try, at 18. She had her last foal at 13. I know all mares are different, but just to give you some encouragement
              Stübben North America
              Los Angeles - Ventura County - San Luis Obispo


              • #8
                I have a 17yo KWPN mare. She had two foals with her previous owner and got pregnant very easily. I think she foaled at 6yo and again at about 13yo. We've tried two years in a row to get her pregnant and each time she got fluid on her uterus at about 7 days. My vet finally advised throwing in the towel. Her exams never showed any sign of issues prior to the breeding season. From what my vet told me and what I have read myself breeding just gets harder the older the horse gets, but (as evidenced by other posts) sometimes it goes smoothly and easily!


                • #9
                  The mare will tell you. You just have to be paying attention.

                  We have a 24YO mare in foal, due in late May 2013 (she'll be 25.) She had a foal this year as well (after stepmothering a rescued weanling the previous summer, while carrying her 2012 foal.) Her general health is sooooo much better pregnant than she when barren.

                  I should add she's a TB, raced 115 times (winning 26) and she's a dainty little thing. Tough as nails, though. She's a cribber, came to us from back east mostly starved, and has no front teeth.
                  It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati


                  • #10
                    19 y/o pregnabt again. She produces Premium after Permium foal. Catches on the 30 day heat every year. Also have an 18 y/o that had her first baby at 17 and a 16 year old in foal again. Can never have enough good producers. I keep trying to keep a filly but when those offers come in...
                    Cindy Bergmann
                    Canterbury Court


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Prime Time Rider View Post
                      My Oldenburg has produced two beautiful foals (2008 and 2009) without complications. I am planning to breed her again in early 2013 but just realized that she will be 16 next year and 17 when she foals. Should I be concerned about her age?

                      At what age do you typically stop breeding your mare, assuming no health issues or complications?
                      I wouldn't be to concerned about her age so long as she is in good condition and her previous foalings went well with no complications. I "would" however, suggest that you have a full reproductive evaluation done, including a uterine biopsy. By 2013, it will have been four years since her last foaling, so there may be some uterine changes that a biopsy will help you to evaluate whether or not she is a good reproductive risk.

                      We don't pick an age to stop breeding a mare, we rely on how she is aging and whether or not she can maintain her own health as well as the pregnancy easily.

                      Good luck!
                      Equine-Reproduction.com Now offering one on one customized training!
                      Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc. A 501(c)(3) non-profit charity


                      • #12
                        Ditto to what Kathy said - I'd do a biopsy. We've found that the issue with older mares isn't settling them - it's maintaining the pregnancy.
                        Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                        "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"


                        • #13
                          My TB mare was a maiden, bred for the first time at age 21, by AI with cooled semen. She caught on the first try, had great pregnancy and delivered a gorgeous colt.

                          The colt is five years old now and I couldn't be happier with how he turned out.

                          The only thing I would say, is to be very watchful over your mare afterwards. My mare's colt grew so fast he really took a lot out of her at around 4 months of age. I had to really improve her nutrition and work hard at keeping her well fed enough to maintain her and it took a while for her to recover her previous bloom after he was weaned. I hadn't had that difficulty with my other mares who were younger.

                          Other than that, I'd say good luck, just keep a close eye on her nutrition especially after the foal is born.