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Discuss On pasturing stallions with mares at the Horse Breeding forum - Horse Breeding Forums.

So here we are, late December, and grass is finally getting scarce in my area. ...
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    Senior Member+ easygoer's Avatar
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    On pasturing stallions with mares

    So here we are, late December, and grass is finally getting scarce in my area. The field that I turn my stallion out in is the worst of all - needs to be fertilized and treated for weeds in the spring. However, the large field that the mares stay in - our hay field - still has a fair amount of quality grass.

    What I was thinking of doing is turning my stud out to graze with the mares and pulling him out around mid-Feb or so. There are 18 mares total, 10 of which are certified in foal. Of the 8 that are open, 2 are young fillies (under 3) who we have not seen cycle since July, and the rest have been confirmed "shut down" from their cycles by our vet.

    Basically I want to know if this is a "smart" idea. My stallion is extremely laid back, at the bottom of the pecking order, and has pasture bred some of the mares so he knows them. He is not the type to bother the girls when they don't need him, and last year wouldn't even show interest in a mare whose heat was transitional. I don't think he would make me regret my decision. Just wondering what other people think, and if anyone has or does pasture their stud with mares, whether just in the winter or year-round.

    Also, do you think that mid-Feb is too early or late to take him out of the mares' field? I know they can start transitioning as early as January, but about when do they actually start having fertile heats again? I am planning on breeding just about every mare out there to this stallion, but in good time - most of them are booked for next season already. So I wouldn't be too upset if something or other happened and one of the open girls wound up in foal to him, but depending on which one it was I may then have to give them the 'shot.' I have heard too that a stallion can cause a pregnant mare to abort if he actually does breed her - is there any truth to this?

    I just want my poor boy to have some grass, but certainly not at the expense of losing a pregnancy. Everything I know about my stallion is telling me he'll be a good boy, but then I know you can't really trust a stallion

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    I'm confused how a vet can "confirm" that a mare is done cycling for the season. I've had mares with small cysts/tumors that can keep them in heat year 'round. I have one mare right now in heat, and she hasn't been in for two months. Not sure what's going on with her.

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    Senior Member+ easygoer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redhorseridge View Post
    I'm confused how a vet can "confirm" that a mare is done cycling for the season. I've had mares with small cysts/tumors that can keep them in heat year 'round. I have one mare right now in heat, and she hasn't been in for two months. Not sure what's going on with her.
    I didn't say they couldn't cycle during winter, just that mine aren't according to my vet.

    Anyway, as far as I can guess he can tell when he palpates them whether they have some activity going on or not. If there's 0 activity and it's mid-November, pretty obvious their system is shut down. There is at least some sort of activity going on between cycles if I'm not mistaken, as we've had mares who are not showing heat palpated and he's been able to tell us they are mid-cycle.

    My vet is a repro specialist and has been practicing about 30 years. I'm not too worried about his advice/statements being incorrect

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    Mares can and do get pregnant while transitional. All transitional means is the cycle is not regular. If you do not want those open mares bred I would suggest keeping the stallion in his own field.

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    Senior Member+ easygoer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellowhorsesinc View Post
    Mares can and do get pregnant while transitional. All transitional means is the cycle is not regular. If you do not want those open mares bred I would suggest keeping the stallion in his own field.
    I always considered the "transitional" heats the anovulatory ones coming in/out of winter...hence transitioning into or out of their cycles.

    I was considering taking out the open mares (minus the ones I plan on breeding to him next season anyway) when he goes into the field, thus leaving him out with the pregnant ones and ones I want bred to him, and letting him/open mares take turns on the grass. I think this would probably be smarter. Do you think he would cause any problems with the pregnant mares? About 1/2 the people I've talked to have told me stallions can be kept safely with pregnant mares, the other half says they can abort a pregnancy I didn't think to ask my vet last time I saw him so I'm still unclear on that bit.

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    Senior Member+ frisco17's Avatar
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    I put my stud with my mares for the winter and never had a problem (dec - begin feb). The mares that have already been bred an confirmed, he stays with them from 5 month preg forward.

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    Senior Member+ Eastowest's Avatar
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    I have successfully pastured a stallion with pregnant mares-- with a stallion whos temperament is as you described, the pregnant mares usually run the show and the stallion is just a bystander-- happy for the company and follwing their lead. I have left different stallions in with pasture-foaling mares and allowed natural coverings in the pasture with foals at side as well--- that will totally depend on the stallion and mares however and caution should be taken and close observation practiced until you know how everyone responds.

    I have never had a stallion try to cover a pregnant mare and end up aborting a pregnancy-- I supoose if a mare showed heat while pregnant and allowed the stallion to cover her, AND the pregnancy was already compromised in some way, such as an incompetent cervical seal, the pregnancy might get dumped-- but if the cervix is tightly sealed, a normal cover sprobably would not disrupt anything. My pregnant mares like the stallion in a "wither scratching buddy" type way, but woe unto him if he ever trying anything more amorous, LOL.

    I would not however put a stallion with open mares any time of the year unless I wanted them bred and pregnant. Cant give you input on winter anestrus because some of my mares continue to cycle into December, and start back up again in March, and some go all winter long, even up here in the frozen wilds of Michigan. I had three mares showing standing heat last week. It was 6 degrees one night that week and dark and cloudy all week so who knows......brrrrrrrr.......
    Laura Lyon
    Eastowest
    http://www.eastowest.com

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    Senior Member Bluegirl_13601's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by easygoer View Post

    Anyway, as far as I can guess he can tell when he palpates them whether they have some activity going on or not.
    with our dairy cows our vet can tell if they are cycling, where they are in their cycle and which side the egg will be/ has been released from... so i imagine they could tell the same with horses as well
    The more men I meet... the more I love my Belgians!

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    Senior Member+ easygoer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eastowest View Post
    I have never had a stallion try to cover a pregnant mare and end up aborting a pregnancy-- I supoose if a mare showed heat while pregnant and allowed the stallion to cover her, AND the pregnancy was already compromised in some way, such as an incompetent cervical seal, the pregnancy might get dumped-- but if the cervix is tightly sealed, a normal cover sprobably would not disrupt anything. My pregnant mares like the stallion in a "wither scratching buddy" type way, but woe unto him if he ever trying anything more amorous, LOL.
    ^ That is what I think makes sense...I never did see how a good pregnancy could be aborted just from the mare being bred.

    Thanks everyone for your input. I won't pasture him with the mares I have booked to outside stallions, and we'll just see how he does with the others

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    Quote Originally Posted by easygoer View Post
    I didn't say they couldn't cycle during winter, just that mine aren't according to my vet.

    Anyway, as far as I can guess he can tell when he palpates them whether they have some activity going on or not. If there's 0 activity and it's mid-November, pretty obvious their system is shut down. There is at least some sort of activity going on between cycles if I'm not mistaken, as we've had mares who are not showing heat palpated and he's been able to tell us they are mid-cycle.

    My vet is a repro specialist and has been practicing about 30 years. I'm not too worried about his advice/statements being incorrect
    Errr...that's not a call "I" would want to make unless I was doing multiple ultrasounds/palpations over a period of time. But, just doing a single palpation or ultrasound will not give you an accurate indication of whether or not a mare is truly anestrus, regardless of how good you are. You can have little to no activity mid cycle and still have mares that are cycling. Additionally, there is no way of knowing when they may start cycling again if they are indeed anestrus and as we are now over the winter solstice, some mares "will" begin cycling here shortly.

    Putting a stallion with ANY open mare, unless you are okay with her being bred, is a recipe for disaster.

    Kathy St.Martin
    Equine-Reproduction.com, LLC
    http://www.equine-reproduction.com

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