AI and insemination
Artificial insemination is not yet common for Icelandic horses. We are currently studying to be qualified “Hulpkracht Paarden-KI” (horse AI assistant), through a course at the University of Utrecht. In this course we are learning all the ins and outs of Artificial Insemination. Afterwards we will gain experience by doing a traineeship and we’ll have to sit an exam. We believe that when AI is performed well, it offers great advantages.
Reasons for choosing AI:
If we can use top stallions from abroad, and take the mare to a local breeding centre for insemination, then this is probably the best choice. Insemination at home can be very difficult. Experience teaches us that the percentage of positive results is lower than at a breeding centre.
Letting a stallion cover in the herd is wonderful. We think so too. However this means that the stallion can’t also have a serious competition career. Covering in hand is more manageable for the stallion, but then we have a risk for the person holding the mare. Mares, especially when they have foals around, can react very fiercely to the stallion and won’t be afraid to express it. This is far from safe.
But for a mare to be in foal, things must go smoothly and happen at the right time. A number of factors are important here. The vet’s or inseminator’s knowledge about estimating the best time for insemination, a stallion which regularly provides good quality semen and last but certainly not least, transporting the sperm to the mare. This chain must fit together precisely. This is exactly where we come in. AI is also for Icelandic horses!
And now for some terminology.
There are three ways to perform AI, and there are two kinds of breeding centres.
Starting at the insemination:
Station AI: The mare is inseminated with fresh sperm at the centre. The stallion is then at the same centre as the mare.
AI on site: the mare is inseminated with chilled sperm. This can either be carried out on site by your own vet or the mare is inseminated at another insemination centre or AI centre by the inseminator or vet on the spot. This sperm is treated so that it can be transported chilled to the mare.
AI on site, with deep frozen sperm: The semen is treated in such a way that it can be kept for a long time and at a low temperature. This requires special equipment and knowledge. This deep frozen sperm is often used to transport sperm over very long distances or to store the sperm of a special stallion. It can also be used to collect sperm in the winter so that the stallion can appear on the competition circuit in the summer.
And now for the different types of breeding centres:
A stud farm that is certified for the Netherlands can send sperm throughout the Netherlands. This will be cooled sperm, which is treated so that it remains viable for up to two days. The sperm undergoes a quality control. If you order sperm from a certified stud farm you know that the quality has been tested. The sperm is not tested for illnesses (apart from CEM). A Dutch certified stud farm may not send sperm outside the Netherlands. You can find the authorised centres and more information here: PVE website.
An EU certified breeding centre can send sperm worldwide. This sperm is checked in order to make sure it contains no illnesses, and in order to continue guaranteeing this, the stallions remain in quarantine during the time that the sperm is collected. These centres are generally equipped for freezing sperm. At an EU centre, you can bring a stallion to collect his sperm, but in general you also take the mare there for insemination. An EU centre is not obliged to check the quality of the sperm. It is important to bear this in mind.
If you want to find out more about AI, then call Cunera, she’ll be happy to explain everything to you.