The influence of mare numbers, ejaculation frequency and month on the fertility of Thoroughbred stallions




Reason for performing the study: Although considerable variation in per cycle pregnancy rates exists between Thoroughbred (TB) stallions, there is little information on factors that may influence this figure.

Objective: To assess the influence of month, mare numbers and mating frequency on the fertility of TB stallions standing on studfarms in East Anglia, England.

Methods: The daily breeding records of 31 TB stallions mating 3034 mares on 4851 occasions during the 2010 season were surveyed and related to first scan pregnancy rates. The influences of mare book size, month, number of matings per day and mating frequency or abstinence on per mating pregnancy rates were analysed.

Results: The overall per mating pregnancy rate for all the stallions was 59.6%, but for individual stallions the figures ranged from 19.0% to 80.1%. The first mating occurred on 9 February and the last on 24 July and the per mating pregnancy rate per month was significantly reduced in June and July. The number of mares mated by individual stallions ranged from 15 to 161, giving a mean overall workload of 160 matings per 100 mares. The per mating pregnancy rate was not related to book size, the number of matings in the season or the mating frequency per day. However, some stallions showed differences in per mating pregnancy rate related to month or the number of ejaculations in the preceding 3 days.

Conclusions: The majority of TB stallions are able to maintain good fertility despite large books of mares. However, 5 of the 31 stallions surveyed showed a per mating pregnancy rate of ≤50%.

Potential relevance: This survey has identified wide differences between the per mating pregnancy rate in TB stallions. Identification of the factors involved through more comprehensive surveys would provide useful information for mare and stallion owners.