Household horse breeding is a difficult but exciting and profitable business. These animals need full care and good housing conditions. You can read about horse breeding methods in this article.
In horse breeding, evaluating the appearance of the species and the required qualities corresponding to a certain breed is of great importance. The main tool is a horse selection. Horses are evaluated not only by their exterior and performance but also by the quality of their offspring and origin.
Horse farms always keep records of their genealogies. By the agility, breeding and exterior characteristics of the ancestors, we can evaluate the genotype of animals. Then, inside the chosen group of horses, matching is done.
The purpose of selection is the improvement of existing or breeding of new species. Selection is done to improve the useful qualities of horses. It allows accumulating the desired qualities, i.e. “modify the system in the right direction.”
Of the many factors influencing the efficiency of selection, the most significant ones are the quality of breeding animals, trait inheritance, and genetic variability. First of all, it is necessary to evaluate horses by their phenotype – live weight, exterior, proportions, hard work, typicality. Evaluation of the phenotype allows determining the purpose of a breed.
There are several criteria for selecting horses:
- Typicality and origin;
- Anatomy and exterior;
- Quality of offspring;
- Coat color;
Following the selection with the right approach to breeding horses should be the selection of species for mating – a pairing of parent couples (sire and dam) to get the desired type of offspring. It allows enriching the breed, developing new species with new qualities.
The selection is based on:
- The validity of the purpose of each mating;
- The superiority of a stallion over a mare;
- Full use of the best qualities of stallions in successful combinations with mares;
- Strengthening the dignity of parents in offspring.
By the difference and similarity between the animals, a heterogeneous and homogeneous selection is distinguished.
- Heterogeneous selection is applied when useful characteristics are not well expressed. They can be strengthened by the obvious presence of the latter in the second parent.
- Homogeneous selection is used when positive characteristics are equally well developed in two species.
Such a selection is often made on the basis of agility. It strengthens heredity, allowing getting a high-class offspring. A heterogeneous selection is more often used in selection by height. Both methods are suitable for improving the exterior, agility, type, and proportions.
The main method of breeding activity is purebred breeding. The method is usually used when working with Arab, Thoroughbred, Orlov Trotter, Akhal-Teke, and other breeds. With this method, the most valuable breeds are improved, or all their useful qualities are preserved. Also, unrelated breeding (outbreeding) and related (inbreeding) should be distinguished.
Crossbreeding is mating of species of different breeds. It is usually used in stud farms to obtain new qualities from a certain breed. Often horses are “crossed” to get species for different purposes. Horses can be athletic, hardworking, productive (i.e. raised for meat, milk, and offspring).
Often with crossbreeding new attributes and marks appear, as the hereditary traits of two or three breeds are combined. These traits can be strengthened by further selection and zootechnical measures.
Specialized farms and large stud farms actively apply purebred breeding of horses. Species, resulting from this, are then used to produce pure lines.
Artificial insemination is used more often, as it allows to obtain large offspring at a low cost. Even an ordinary horse breeder can buy semen of a breeding stallion and inseminate his mares, resulting in the offspring with the most valuable attributes. Provided that the costs of buying and maintaining the breeder are excluded.
Horses usually reach puberty at the age of 2, less often at the age of 1 year. Mating is recommended only when they reach the age of 3.
There are three mating methods in horse breeding: artificial, pasture, and herd. The artificial method is usually used for stall housing and the other two are used for herding.
In the artificial case, mare’s “readiness” (being “on”) is detected by rectal examination or with the help of a male tester. For a stallion sample, the mare is brought to the head using long leashes. The stallion is held by the reins. If the mare lays back its ears, worries, trying to bite or trample, then it is not yet the time.
If a mare’s sexually receptive, the mating arrangements begin. Before the process, the sexual organs of the animals are washed with warm water and the mare’s tail is bandaged. After that, a breeding bridle is put on. The procedure should be carried out in a special room with a flat floor so that the animals do not have injuries.
The stallion can stay in the mare for quite some time during the process. Semen ejaculation is indicated by the up and down movements of the stallion’s tail. If the process fails, the stallion should have a rest – a 20 minutes walk on a leash, and then the process is repeated. After insemination, the animal needs to be walked again for half an hour. Then its rump, back, and limbs should be rubbed with a plaited straw. After that, the stallion must be back to the stall. A stallion cannot cover more than two mares a day, otherwise, the mating will become unsuccessful.
Pasture breeding is used if a stallion should not be allowed to a herd (e.g. it’s valuable or its health may be endangered). The mares are pushed into a paddock and the stallion is sent to them. The stallion will decide for itself which of the mares is in season and will cover it several times a day. This method facilitates the work, and the process of the random company is simplified.
In a case of herd breeding, small herds are formed from the entire population. Each herd should have its own stallion. Without human intervention, they recognize the mares in season and mate with them.
In addition to natural insemination, artificial insemination is also used in horse breeding. It has several advantages over natural mating:
- Sexually transmitted diseases are avoided – it is possible to inseminate animals even on quarantined farms;
- More mares can be inseminated with a single stallion’s semen (the semen of valuable stallions is used more fully);
- The ability to inseminate the mare at a long distance from the stallion; the maximum number of foals from a valuable stallion is obtained.
Pregnancy and parturition
With pregnancy, a mare’s not in heat anymore and will start repelling a stallion. During this period, the horse becomes lazier, calmer, and eats well. In the second period of pregnancy, you can notice the roundness of the abdomen. If you give the mare some cold water on an empty stomach, the right side of it will show wave-like movements.
Before parturition, the groin falls off, legs, udder and abdomen swell, and the belly comes down. In the last days of pregnancy, milk can be noticed on the nipples. On average, the pregnancy lasts about 11 months. Colts are carried by a mare longer than fillies.
During this period, feeding quality has to be monitored carefully. Spoiled, frozen, and also food that causes intestinal gases leads to miscarriages. The mare should be fed more often but in small portions. Obesity is undesirable because the foal will be weak.
Adding 67.6 ounces of wheat bran to the daily portion a day is useful, pouring 2 teaspoons of salt on top. The water in the drinking-bowl should not be too cold. Hard work should be avoided. Two weeks before parturition, any work is stopped, but the mare should be walked every day.
Prior to the parturition, the mare becomes anxious, looks at her stomach, often lies down and gets up. Then the pressure begins when the fetus moves towards the pelvis and a bubble appears outside. It ruptures and the fetus comes out of the birth canal, front or back legs forward.
Horses usually deliver while lying down. After the parturition, the dam stands up, tearing the umbilical cord. If it is not torn, it should be cut off at 15 cm from the navel, washed and lubricated with iodine solution. After half an hour the placenta should come out. In case this does not happen, the vet should be called immediately.
Dam and foal care
After the birth, the dam is irritable, she’s worried about noise and screaming. The animal is extremely sensitive to cold and draughts. It is necessary to rub it with soft straw and cover it with a warm horse-cloth. In the first days, the dam is fed moderately. Wheat bran, good hay, and carrots fit well. Switching to oats is allowed in a week.
Three days after delivery, the dam and foal can be released for a walk. Every day the walks get longer. After three weeks, the dam can be involved in some light work. The bedding of the dam should be clean, dry, and plentiful. The mating is allowed 9 days after delivery.
The foal should be given to its mother to sniff and lick. If this does not happen, the foal is wiped with a clean soft cloth and led to the udder. The first colostrum cleans the foal’s body of its original feces. If the stomach does not work, it needs an enema with warm water and oil.
The whole nursing period lasts for 5-6 months. In the first 2 weeks, the foal can be left in the mother’s stall. Then it is separated and allowed only 5 times a day to feed with milk. At the age of 1 month, the foal already begins to grab hay and oats from the mother’s food. By the second month, the hay can be given in plenty but of good quality. It is advisable to add oats as well. In summer, the foal should be grazed.
For feeding the foal, shallow low bowls are used. Periodically, it should have a snaffle-bit on it, be walked and tied it up. By the third month of life, in warm weather, the youngsters begin to molt and are advised to be washed.
By the age of six months, the youngsters are fed whole oats and gradually weaned from milk. Weaning is done gradually. From now on and up to 1.5 years old the animals should eat well. The stall should be clean and light, and the bedding – plentiful. The hooves also need care. Finally, the youngsters are accustomed to working: early maturing – from 1 year, trotters – from 2 years, and simple breeds – from 2.5 years. Also, the horses need to be prepared for the collar.
If you follow all the rules of breeding horses, your pets will grow strong and healthy. And then you’ll get a healthy offspring.
Author bio: Roy is a literary enthusiast, a loving father of twins, a programmer in a custom software company, editor in chief of thehomedweller.com, greedy reader, and a gardener.
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