Westphalia Ranch


Foundation Bred American Quarter Horses


Preserving a 400 year American Legacy by breeding







Mare Breeding Tips

  • The key to a successful outcome in a breeding program begins with the overall health of the mare.
  • Mares should be bred after the age of 3, and can be bred well into their 20ís.
  • A mareís reproductive efficiency decreases significantly after the age of 12, especially if she has never been bred.
  • A typical healthy mare will first begin to cycle naturally in the spring once the daylight hours become longer.
  • She will be in a breeding heat for about 3 to 7 days.
  • It should be noted that many mares will not display signs of a visible heat until she is in the vicinity of a stallion.
  • A mare will begin cycling (foal heat) within 3 to 7 days after foaling.
  • Older mares often have a harder time breeding after foaling because it takes them longer to recover, or they have such a short "foal heat"  that is easy to miss.
  • A mareís body condition directly affects her breeding ability.
  • Broodmares need a body condition of 5; on a scale of 1 to 9, 1 being extremely thin, 9 being obese.
  • You should be able to feel her ribs but not see them.
  • Be mindful that both thin and fat mares usually donít catch.
  • Make sure your mare has been de-wormed regularly and that she is up-to-date on her shots.
  • Your veterinarian can develop a schedule that best fits your specific needs.
  • Have your vet do a pre-breeding exam to make sure your mareís reproductive tract is in order.
  • This exam is more extensive in an older or maiden mare.
  • Make sure that you have your vet perform a uterine culture so that she doesnít have a bacterial infection (this is a must for most stallion owners).
  • This procedure is not necessary if the mare has had a foal within the last sixty days or if the mare is maiden.
  • Find a stallion with solid conformation: solid feet; straight thick cannon bones; and overall good conformation.  His conformation should compliment your mare's.
  • Disposition is also very important. The mare has a lot to do with a foalís disposition because she raises the baby.  However, the disposition of the stallion is vital.  Your mare may be gentle and quiet but if you breed her with a hot-blooded stallion, donít be surprised when you end up with a hot-blooded foal.
  • Spend some time with the stallion (and the stallionís handler) so you can determine if he is right for you and your mare.  A bad-breeding experience can result in a lifetime of breeding anxiety in your mare and for you.  Be sure you choose a good stallion.
  • Check the breeding facility as well.  Simply tying a mare to a fence post and breeding her is a recipe for disaster.  Make sure the facility has a sturdy and safe breeding area.  The stud fee should not be your primary consideration.
  • Make sure that the personnel handling your mare provide her with the gentleness that she deserves.  You and your mare will be the better for it.
  • Time your breeding to when you would most like to have a foal.
  • Typical gestation is about 11 months 11 days (342 days) depending on climatic conditions.
  • Mares bred to foal early in the season usually gestate longer.
  • After the breeding have your veterinarian perform an ultrasound scan to determine if indeed your mare is in foal.
  • This procedure is best performed 12 to 16 days after the final mating.  This is also critical in determining if your mare has twins.  (Note: twins have a 97% fatality rate)
  • He does not provide you with a "breeding contract" with guarantees
  • He does not require a negative uterine culture for your mare.  Remember diseases are transmittable!
  • He does not require a health certificate for your mare.
  • Has a young unproven stallion.  Decide if want your mare to be part of his learning curve.
  • He seems not to know much about what he's doing.  Just because he owns a stallion doesn't make him a breeder.
  • He field breeds his stallion.  This could be a sign of the stallion being unmanageable or the breeder not being capable of handling his stallion in a breeding situation.
18   Make good choices:
  • Foals don't ask to be born, these are human decisions.
  • Ensure that you make these decisions responsibly and not just from pure emotion.
  • Far too many horses with poor genetics have been produced that should never have been born due to poor judgment.
  • Your mistake could live 35 years. 
  • Feed and work your mare normally.  This will help her stay fit and she will have an easier foaling.  Don't overfeed her.
  • Pregnant mares can be ridden until their sixth month without any problems.
20   Lastly:
  • Keep your pregnant mare off any fescue grass or hay beginning or before the last trimester.
  • Fescue grass/hay is linked to abortions and pregnancy complications.  If you don't know what type of grass you have, it's probably fescue.
  • Don't take any chances.


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This site updated January 2013 - Copyright Westphalia Ranch