Embryo transfer is becoming an increasingly popular way of breeding mares without the mare having to carry a foal to term. It involves creating a pregnancy in the donor mare which is then removed by flushing the uterus, processed and transferred into a synchronised recipient (a mare at an appropriate stage in her oestrus cycle to receive the pregnancy). It is useful for breeding mares in competition work without disrupting their schedule or those with medical or other reasons not to carry their own foal. It is also possible to produce more than one foal from a single mare in a year.
Embryo transfer, as good as it sounds, requires a great deal of veterinary input as well as owner commitment. It requires a donor mare and at least two appropriate recipient mares. Recipient mares should be aged between 4 and 12 years old and reproductively sound. They should be in good general health and able to carry a foal to term. To simplify things for donor mare owners, there are currently studs that offer a bank of healthy recipient mares who we can liaise with to insure that there is an appropriate recipient at the right time.
The process starts before the donor mare is inseminated in order to ensure there will be an appropriately synchronised recipient. Once the donor mare has been inseminated, we wait 7 or 8 days (depending on chilled or frozen AI and age of the mare) then thoroughly flush the uterus to remove any embryos. We then find and grade the embryo. At that point we can prepare it for transport to be couriered to a recipient mare stud and transferred within a few hours, without the need for the donor mare to travel. Alternatively, we can transfer it directly into your own recipient. The donor mare will need some aftercare to ensure her uterus stays healthy and if the recipient is with us she will need further management to increase the chances of the pregnancy being maintained. This can be done at Donnington Grove Veterinary Surgery or at home if you have suitable facilities.
Please contact any of our stud vets for further information and prices.