Good quality frozen stallion semen is certainly in demand by breeders these days and is now considered a common product in the realm of breeding. With the increasing use of frozen semen from competition stallions in a range of disciplines, semen from stallions can now be accessed internationally by breeders this in turn has increased competition between stallion owners. Scientific research has also improved the understanding of how stallion sperm respond to freezing/ thawing and has enabled improve methods that maximise its fertility. As with fresh and chilled semen, frozen semen also has its advantages and disadvantages, we cover some of these below.
- On-demand collections don’t interfere with performance careers
With frozen semen, a stallion owner doesn’t have to choose between a stallion’s performance career and standing their stallion at stud. In previous years it was necessary for a stallion to be either a competition horse or a breeding stallion. Even these days performance stallions that stand at stud for chilled and fresh semen, often have natural breeding and collections interfere with their performance career.
When stallions are collected for semen freezing, the collection frequency is typically 3 days per week. This collection period is usually only carried out until the desired number of doses required is achieved. This gives the stallion owner the ability to choose when they get their stallion collected and allows the stallion to continue with his performance career without regular disruptions.
- Semen wastage is limited.
Another benefit of frozen semen is that when processing frozen semen generally every bit of the ejaculate is utilised and therefore no semen is wasted.
- Access to a Global Market
With frozen semen stallions can be marketed on a global scale. Frozen semen allows stallion owners to tap into both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere breeding seasons. With fresh and chilled semen, the proximity of a stallion to a mare may determine which stallion a mare owner would choose for breeding their mare.
Some countries including Australia have either bans or strict regulations surrounding the importation of fresh and/or cooled equine semen. Whereas it is usually achievable to have frozen semen processed in a manner that meets import requirements of any country.
- Availability at time of insemination
With fresh semen it is necessary for a mare to be near a stallion to breed. Chilled semen allows shipment over greater distances but is still very time dependent. Frozen semen however can be obtained in advance and stored until it is needed, this availability increases the flexibility for the mare owner. It is often beneficial for a mare owner to have the semen at the facility and ready whenever the mare needs to be bred, without the delays of collection or shipping.
- Frozen semen from deceased or injured stallions can still be accessed.
Collecting a stallion and storing their frozen semen gives stallion owners more breeding security. If a stallion is injured, suffers an illness, or passes away that stallion’s semen is still available to be used. If stored correctly frozen semen can last indefinitely allowing the stallion to breed long after it can no longer be collected.
- Increased quality control
With frozen semen a post-thaw analysis is performed by the processing laboratory, so you know in advance the quality of the semen you will be receiving. In addition, the use of frozen semen allows for pre-screening of some infectious diseases.
- The initial costs of freezing semen
When a stallion is collected for cooled semen doses there is typically no out-of-pocket cost for the stallion owner at the time of collection. The collection, processing and shipping fees are usually covered by the mare owners and paid directly to the collection facility. When semen is frozen from a stallion the expenses are paid by the stallion owner at the time of collection and processing.
- Conception rates may be lower.
Conception rates when using frozen semen are lower than those seen in fresh or chilled semen inseminations.
- Not all stallions freeze well.
Not all stallion’s semen can be successfully frozen meaning post-thaw fertility rates can be low.
- Not all mares are good candidates.
When breeding mares with frozen semen it is usually best to choose a young, reproductively sound mare. Some mares also display a strong inflammatory reaction to frozen semen or the extender that is often used in the freezing process.
- Increases breeding costs.
Once thawed stallion semen doesn’t live very long therefore timing of insemination is particularly important. This can mean increased scanning of the mare to enable ideal insemination time closest to ovulation as possible. This increased scanning can add to breeding costs.