The idea of breeding from their own mares has a lot of appeal for horse owners. The chance of producing a foal with qualities like its mother, or even better, has a number of attractions.
Horse owners who enjoy the races bookmakers who provide Australian sports betting make available will be particularly interested in this hobby, hoping to breed the next big winner, but prior knowledge about normal breeding behaviour, what to expect at foaling, and how newborn foals should develop and behave is vital.
It is thus best for novices to seek out professional help when mating and foaling from a stud.
When is Best to Breed?
Mares have a natural breeding season. Increases in daylight hours stimulate receptor centers in the mare’s brain, and this in turn triggers the production of the hormones in charge of reproduction. These initiate the patterns of the regularly spaced oestrus, or heat, periods, which characterise the breeding season each spring.
These oestrus periods will keep occurring throughout the summer, and cease when autumn/fall comes around.
Artificially increasing light, by means of electricity, for example, allows breeders to begin the season earlier if they wish to.
This is a prevalent practice in Thoroughbred studs, since breeders try to ensure that foals are born as close as possible to January 1st. In fact this is such common practice that January 1 is the official birthday of Thoroughbred racehorses!
Should You Breed from Your Mare?
Although breeding horses is commonly not too problematic, it is advisable for novices to think very carefully before putting their mares in foal. Rearing foals is additional work, which requires particular facilities, including different accommodation once it is weaned.
If the mare is a purebred horse, however, there may well be financial benefit from proper breeding. Breeding crossbred horses, however, is unlikely to result in financial gain, and the additional outlay will generally outweigh any potential profit.
Is My Colt Worthy of Becoming a Stallion?
Probably not. Very few colts that have been bred at home are good enough to be used as stallions. There are a lot of excellent stallions available commercially, however, and it is always recommended that one of these is used.
Young colts are also difficult to handle, and usually it is a better idea to geld them as soon as possible.
Both stallions and colts need handling by experts, and it can be not only difficult but dangerous for amateurs to attempt to manage them alone.
Is My Mare the Right Age to Breed?
Mares will frequently continue breeding until late in their lives, and suffer no ill effects as a result.
This is even more true of animals that are regularly bred -it is difficult to get an old mare in foal if she has never undergone the process before.
Fillies reach sexual maturity at about 18 months, and can start foaling as soon as they reach two-years of age. However, you must remember that, at two, they are still growing, and it is possible that pregnancy can hinder their growth.
The ideal age for mares to breed is around four, so that they foal at five-years old, although some are put in foal at three-years old.