AI vs Live Cover? - Page 2

       The Horse Forum > Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics > Horse Breeding

AI vs Live Cover?

This is a discussion on AI vs Live Cover? within the Horse Breeding forums, part of the Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics category
  • Mare is posing standing what days of heat cycle is this
  • Restraining chute for live cover of a mare

LinkBack Thread Tools
    06-24-2009, 03:33 PM
FehrGroundRanch - I only do live cover on TB mares because I have to. For no other reason.

Especially with maiden mares and/or mares you don't know, stuff can happen very very quickly and even in the most experienced TB breeding sheds that breed literally thousands of mares each year Live Cover among the various stallions they stand, you hear of deaths and catastrophic injuries done to the handlers and in some cases to the stallion as well

The mares can be lethal with that back end. They can flip themselves over, they can leap sideways, they can rear and strike out and with everyone in such close proximity, its tough at time to stay out of harm's way

I don't believe in breeding hobbles - I have again seen and heard of too many injuries to the mares that use them but I have also seen and heard of many stallions that end up with stud ending injuries if they get kicked in a vulnerable spot

Collecting is far safer - for the most part - but at the facility I used several years ago, they had a stallion fall off the phantom, get a front leg wedged in a cross bar, he crashed to the ground and his shoulder was broken. They surgically corrected the break but he re-broke it as he was coming out of the anaesthetic and ended up being euthanized. Freak accident - of course, but this kind of stuff does happen more than you think ...
Sponsored Links
    06-24-2009, 03:46 PM
I know, horses can and will get injuried no matter how safe you try to make the situation.

I have used live cover with no issues so far, but we did buy a stallion that had been kicked and was no longer able to breed.

Great topic BTW
    06-25-2009, 02:39 PM
Green Broke
Wow, im seeing a lot of sides from this 8)
    06-28-2009, 12:03 AM
Green Broke
We used AI on the Warmblood breeding farm I worked on, and I greatly prefered it. If done properly, you can impregnate a lot more mares then you can with live cover. I find it much safer, and again, if done properly, I think the settling rates tend to be higher on average.

I'm not sure if that can change with frozen or cooled semen? Elaine had one stallion, and as soon as we collected him, the semen went directly into the prepped and waiting mares. They all settled within the first two tries.

I personally don't see a huge pro to live cover, except in cases where people don't know what they're doing. You remove the safety risk to both stallion, mare and handlers (of course, you still have to be careful inseminating mares!), plus you're able to better utilize the amount of sperm you collect with less waste. Just my opinion anyway!
    06-28-2009, 03:40 PM
>>>>You remove the safety risk to both stallion, mare and handlers

I disagree just a little . I don't think that with AI, the risk is REMOVED--to collect a stallion, you are still having to handle and manage a 1200+ pound aroused male. Granted, to impregnate the same number of mares, you will be handling him less if you collect and split the collection amongst mares than if you live covered each mare-- but collecting a stallion still poses a risk to the handlers and the stallion.

IMO one of the greatest advantages to live cover is the effect of mare/stallion contact on stimulating hormone release, libido, and thus fertility. There is also the advantage of observing the stallion's "read" of the mare's readiness, in combination with the mare's subtle differences in response to the stallion. Ultrasounds, palpations, follicle checks and measurements are great tools, but sometimes how a mare and stallion interact can tell you more about the actual readiness of the mare than a vet check-- horses do not read the manual on how many days along in their cycle they are supposed to be, or how many mm their follicle is supposed to measure at their peak potential fertility .

Similar advantages can be attained by utilizing an agressive and frequent teasing program in conjunction with AI breeding, but with aggressive and frequent teasing you are reintroducing some of the risks to handlers and horses that strict vet-check/AI prep and breeding had reduced.

All of that said-- I appreciate the many options that AI breeding opens up (bridging distance, increasing safety, allowing injured animals to breed/be bred, limiting transmission of disease, etc.) but in some situations and with certain mares/stallions, IMO as close to "nature's way" as possible is still the best way.
    06-28-2009, 03:48 PM
Green Broke
The only reason I would do live cover is if I was breeding a TB. TB's that are registered HAVE to be live cover. No way around it
    06-28-2009, 05:27 PM
Laura - I have to agree with a lot of what you have said in your last post ...

I HATE HATE HATE teasing a mare in her stall with a foal at side. She is defensive, protective and if she kicks out because the stallion is invading her protected space in a very loud and invasive manner, the foal has every chance of being kicked. Badly.

Our paddocks are set up with 10' wide aisles between them and I simply turn the mares out in their paddocks, which are 10' away from the stallion's paddock, and I then watch.

If the mare's arent even close to being breedable, they will either glare at the stallon and then ignore him for the rest of the day or - depending on the mare - she may go up to him to say "hello" and THEN ignore him for the rest of the day.

On about Day 3-4, she will go up and say hello, she may hang around for awhile and/or she will leave and keep coming back throughout the day to visit with him

On Day 5-6 - you'd need a crowbar to pry her away. She plants herself right there close to him, and will do nothing but stand and pee. If she leaves at all, its to go and get a drink or have a nibble of grass, and then back she comes once again. An idiot could tell at that stage that she is ready to breed ...

We do the same with the maiden mares and have found it works fabulously well to allow them to "get to know the stallion" and to also allow him to verbally incite them to come in and to be receptive to him and we can also stand and watch their attitude to him to get a bit of an inkling about what we may be in for once they are ready to live cover

I will ALWAYS listen to what the stallion tells us, long before I will listen to a vet and the ultrasound. I have gone too many times on the vets advising "she is a breed NOW!" only to find the stallion wont drop, he wont get erect, he wont approach the mare and we have to physically restrain the mare - HARD! - and/or tranq her to get the job done at all. All because the vet said she had to be bred now - she was ready - and big surprise. She doesnt get in foal either ...

So - yes. There is very much that component with Live Cover breeding that simply isnt present when you stick that arm up there and inseminate the mare, all based on what the vet has told you to do

Like anything in life - there are very much pros and cons to either side ...
    06-30-2009, 08:47 PM
Green Broke
That's interesting TrueColors, and definitely gives me a new perspective! I guess I'm going based off prefering AI, to the somewhat traditional method of the mare not even meeting the stallion until breeding day and using a teaser stallion to "test the water". In that sense, I find live cover immensely dangerous. However, if I sent my mare to a farm setup like yours and learned that was how you did it, I'd definitely choose it over AI! I agree with you - reproduction is a science and horses have a LOT more milleniums of experience on the science of reproduction then we humans do! Heck, I lost my Warmblood filly because the vet kept telling me she didn't take because she kept coming back into heat. Guess who popped out a filly almost a year later? By that time I'd rehomed her after spending hundreds of dollars to have a vet tell me she wouldn't take :roll:

I'd actually be more comfortable turning a stallion loose with his herd of mares then I would handing my mare over to a facility to be bred. Most of the reason I dislike live cover is because humans interefere SO much, we create the danger. How receptive can a mare be when we tie up three legs, twitch her, and then force a stallion on her? AI tends to take away from that manmade danger in situations when the horses can't be natural about it anyway. That's my only preference for AI.

I've always loved Anglo-Arabs. When can I send my mare to you guys? LMAO. J/K!
    07-01-2009, 12:36 AM
>>>>> Most of the reason I dislike live cover is because humans interefere SO much, we create the danger. How receptive can a mare be when we tie up three legs, twitch her, and then force a stallion on her? AI tends to take away from that manmade danger in situations when the horses can't be natural about it anyway. That's my only preference for AI.

Ahhh but not all people manage their in hand live covering with twitches hobbles and such. I wouldn't like live cover breeding either if I trussed up every mare. If the stallion is being forced on her-- ie. She is not at least showing receptivity (for a maiden) or better yet begging for his attention (for an experienced mare)-- something is seriously amiss! My goal with hand covering is to make it as stress free and natural as possible, because IMO it is safer, and I have happier horses and better conception rates that way.

I have my stallion's pen near one end of the mare paddock, and, like True Colours, I observe several times daily what each mare is "doing", and keep track. The stallion and mares can be in full sight and hearing of each other 24/7, if they wish to be.

If I see "clues" in a mare's behavior and/or the stallion's interest in a mare, I halter up the mare, take her out of the paddock, and tease her more "up close and personal" with the stallion-- he is allowed to come into contact with her over his fence when appropriate. I have a very vocal, very attentive stallion. He doesn't bite or charge. He is a very good teaser.

If the mare is receptive and the stallion showing appropriate interest, what I do next depends on the mare. With mares I am familiar with, I don't usually breed at the first sign of receptivity, but wait a day or two, if they typically are in standing heat at least four days-- I prefer to cover a mare only twice in her heat cycle if at all possible. If I am not familiar with her typical oestrus behavior, or if it is a day or two into standing heat, I do minimal cleaning under her tail with water, either tie her or have a helper hold her (as I don't tie maiden mares or mares I am not familiar with, or the occasional mare who does not stand well tied). I get the stallion ready (minimal water cleansing) and proceed to cover the mare.

I am not a big operation, and I don't usually have outside mares to worry about. We covered 6 mares this season, ranging from a five year old maiden off track TB, to a tempermental 16.3 hand mare who had only ever been bred via AI previously, to a 16 year old mare who has had 7 foals and is an old hand at all of this. Not one twitch, hobble, needle or chain touched any of the mares. In fact, I only used a chain over the nose on the stallion with two mares-- I knew from how they teased that they were a little more reactive, and for his own safety I wanted him to be more responsive if I felt I had to move him out of the way quickly-- but not one mare took any serious shots toward him, and obviously we had successful covers.

I know some folks will say a mare should be restrained for the safety of the stallion and handlers--I have worked at barns where we used all the gadgets to restrain a mare. Guess what-- they can and do still kick, rear, flip, and panic with hobbles, twitches, in breeding chutes and stocks, and even when tranquilized. When they are restrained with devices and end up freaking out, IMO it is a bigger wreck than if they are being attentively held or attended to while securely tied, and it can be MORE dangerous to all concerned, especailly the stallion.

I prefer not to use any of that if I can avoid it, and as this year illustrated, if a mare is somewhat familiar with the stallion and the process and is not bred until she is totally ready, it can work out smoothly and relatively stress free for all involved.

The above won't work with every mare, every stallion, or every farm, every time-- these are my own mares, or mares on lease that I am responsible for and have here long term, so I get to know their habits and concerns pretty well. I would not hesitate to employ more restraint if I felt it was the best choice. But seriously (and embarassingly, LOL) I had more drama getting one old bird to load in the trailer to go for her ultrasound appointment than I had getting her covered and in foal!
    07-04-2009, 02:40 AM
Originally Posted by southerncowgirl93    
I just read an article on this from one of my old magazines.


Some advantages
- No travel required. Less stress on mare that way.
-Reduced risk of disease.
-Less risk of injury.

Some disadvantages
-Shipping costs. Very expensive, especially for multiple shipments.
-Semen mix-up.
-Potential to devalue semen and offspring. (Too easily available.)

Live Cover

Some advantages

-Access to experts.
-Ready access to stallion.
-No shipping costs.
-Less chance of a mix-up. (Easy to tell one stud from another.)

Some disadvantages

-Travel. (More stress.)
-Disease and infection. (More exposure.)
Well, this article is just a list of reasons the author has dumped into categories with no facts to back them up. When really looking into medical matters, journal articles that have been peer reviewed are the gold standard. I would still talk to medical professionals and not look to a show magazine for advice on breeding. When reading articles, you need to always read with a scrutinizing mind, don't take what is printed as truth.

Quick Reply
Please help keep the Horse Forum enjoyable by reporting rude posts.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Need a saddle cover and pad! jackieboy2 Tack and Equipment Classifieds 1 07-15-2009 04:38 PM
NEVER Judge A Book By The Cover! FGRanch General Off Topic Discussion 5 04-26-2009 05:02 PM
Should I ask her to cover part of my loss? starlinestables Horse Tack and Equipment 19 02-28-2009 11:15 PM
Cover songs my2geldings Movies, Music, and TV 0 11-27-2008 12:33 AM
My Music Video Cover - Wreck Of The Day AQHA_MHonora_Pleasure General Off Topic Discussion 2 08-15-2008 06:01 PM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:21 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0