Ask an Expert

Broodmare Age

October 24, 2011

Can your mare handle re-breeding? And when should you stop breeding your mare? Find out the answers from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners offers great advice for this mare owner. AAEP is an AQHA educational marketing alliance partner.

Question:

Is it advisable to breed a mare year after year after year? Does it affect the quality of the foal if she is bred every other year instead of every year, providing that there are no health issues? Until what age do you recommend breeding a mare?

Answer:

As long as a mare is able to maintain a healthy weight while nursing a foal, I find no reason not to breed her back year after year.

Whether a mare carries a foal every year or every other year does not affect the quality of the foal produced.

In my experience, mares tend to cycle more consistently and normally when bred every year. Therefore, in the absence of some kind of uterine trauma or other health problem, I recommend that a mare be bred to carry every year. In fact, I also recommend that embryo donor mares be allowed to carry a foal every three to four years because it helps them maintain normal cervical function.

In AQHA’s FREE Mare Care report, learn how to prepare your mare, target a breeding date, order semen, induce a follicle to ovulate and much more.

Generally speaking, I recommend that clients start considering embryo transfer rather than carrying a foal once the mare reaches 20-21 years of age. At this age, the likelihood that a mare could develop placental insufficiency is much higher.

However, many mares carry foals into their 20s with no problems.

In my opinion, it is more important to consider the overall health of the mare rather than just her age when deciding whether or not to allow her to carry a foal.

– Dr. Katherine Joos
American Association of Equine Practitioners