Oakham Veterinary Hospital is a BEVA approved centre for Artificial Insemination(AI) with fresh, chilled or frozen semen.
When performed by a qualified and experienced vet AI is able to offer success rates comparable to natural service. AI enables you to choose a stallion from anywhere in the UK or Europe and eliminates the inherent risks associated with natural service. An important consideration when choosing a stallion should be his availability throughout the year. If he is competing regularly when is he available for collections? If you are choosing semen from a stallion based in Europe you must bear in mind weekends/ bank holidays, which can affect the decision making process in determining when to order semen.The simplest choice is frozen semen which eliminates these considerations, and can be sent to us before the mare arrives at the hospital.
Before being admitted to Oakham Veterinary Hospital we recommend mares undergo a pre breeding examination preferably at your own home/yard. This involves two compulsory tests that must be completed before the mare can be admitted. The first is a blood test for Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) and the second is a clitoral swab for Contagious Equine Metritis(CEM). We strongly advise an ultrasound scan at this time to assess where the mare is in her cycle to guide us as to the best time for the mare to come to the hospital.
Ideally mares should come to us just as they are beginning to come into season. The mare will then be scanned on a daily basis to allow the ovaries, follicles and the uterus to be examined which determines how well 'in season' she is. Also we check for the presence of any uterine fluid which may indicate if infection is present- this will require treatment before insemination. Once a follicle has reached an appropriate size, (at least 35mm) the mare is given an ovulation injection which in the majority of cases means ovulation will occur within the next 36-48 hours. The semen is then ordered from the stud to arrive the next day. The timing of insemination is crucial as it should occur in the 24 hours prior to ovulation if using chilled semen or within 6 hours if using frozen semen. Frozen semen AI requires very close monitoring, which includes scans every 4-6 hours as ovulation approaches. This is necessary because once thawed, frozen semen will only survive for between 6- 12 hours, meaning the mare must be inseminated as close to ovulation as possible, often occuring in the early hours of the morning.
The mare is then scanned again the day after insemination to confirm ovulation and to again check for the presence of uterine fluid. This fluid is particularly common in older, maiden mares and can be very detrimental to conception therefore requiring intensive treatment. If all goes according to plan and there is no fluid present, the mare may go home or stay at the hospital to await a pregnancy scan. We recommend two pregnancy scans, the first at 14-15 days to check for a pregnancy and also to check for the presence of twins. The second should be at 28-30 days to check that the pregnancy has grown normally and for the presence of a healthy heartbeat.
As a result of our confidence in our high conception rates we have tailored our pricing structure to reduce the basic package cost and then charge an 'in-foal' fee once the mare has scanned in foal. This is intended to reduce the 'per cycle' cost for mare owners by saving them money if it takes more than one attempt to achieve a pregnancy.