Equine Cryogenic Service at Santolina Farm Inc. ~ Preserving the future.

USDA Approved: Center for Semen Collection and Processing Center (CSCP) - #16AZ002-EQS

"Safety Net" for Stallion Owners

By Jack Farmer Mar 1, 2005

Semen Storage Tank RoomI see Stallions as Artists in the business of breeding horses, creating, if you will, their offspring linage. Their Foals are the results of combining his stallion genetics with a suitable mare match, similar to an artist putting paint to canvas. As we know, many Artist and Stallions do well within their lifetime. Some Artists that do well, yet become legends among artists and art collectors, unfortunately, only after they are gone. Collectors of Fine Art, Antiques and, oh yes, Horses know that things of the past in history can be highly prized and sought after in life today. How would you like to have a Picasso to hang on the wall in your home’s living room? How would you like to have a young "Doc Bar" or "Badger" or "*Bask" mare or stallion in your barn today? Would an owner of such a stallion or mare think they could breed highly sought after horses from these horses? U-bet-cha in a heart beat!! I am sure those horses would be worth their weight in gold and pride of ownership. Ok. So how do we get there??

Let’s think out of the box for awhile. Most horse registries now allow registering foals sired by stallions or mares that have passed on to greener pastures. Most registries now, do not have any time limits on registration times. Think years into the future about your stallion and his offspring with their accomplishment record and sales. We know that most stallions are not considered good producers until they are older or aged stallions. Why? Good question. It takes about 10 years of breeding to get enough offspring out there to say if the stud is a good producer and on what breeding blood lines. It is very frustrating in deciding mares, advertising and health care of the horse, just to get there. (I know as we have done it twice.) So Now you’re at about 15 years old for your horse. Let’s think the stallion is in the best health and best horse care with a continued successful breeding career for another 5 years. Now he is 20 years old, or is he?

The average age of a horse is around 14 years old

Do you still have him when he is 14 years old? Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t for many reasons. For those of you that do make it to 20 years and beyond, give yourself a pat on the back. You are within a small group of breeders. The rest of us lost to Mother Nature, accidents, over medicated with steroids, sold before you knew he was a great stallion and the many other things that can go wrong in the breeding stallion ownership.

What to do to preserve yourself and the stallion’s continued linage and legacy?
Answer = Freeze His Semen for storage.

Semen Freezing Technology has improved greatly over the last several years. It is becoming a more acceptable practice in the breeding business. I have even experienced and seen improvements myself within the past year, (in my own trade secrets). If you discuss freezing semen with University Professors, they will tell you that breeding with Frozen Semen in the near future will become as common as breeding with Cooled Semen is now. If you consider that to be true, Frozen Semen Breeding will be the standard within 15 short years! For those Horse Breeders that are in the business for the long haul, I would strongly suggest to you, start freezing semen now or very soon, so as to be in the position to raise those offspring from stallions that are no longer with us in 15 or so years. If your stallion turns out to be one of the great producers, you could be the one to bring the "Picasso’s" back into the genetic pool to make a difference. A lot of Life is about making a difference for the betterment of the world and society. If you consider your stallion to possibly be one to make a difference, semen freezing will help you continue a legacy to make that difference.

There are several reasons to Freeze Semen.
• Loss of your breeding stallion, yet a need to continue his linage for a limited / extended time.
• Stallion breeding interruption due to Lameness, Illness or loss of breeding soundness.
• Stallion unavailable due to horse shows.
• Stallion over booked on a particular day, being short of semen Vs missing a mare.
• Sale of the Stallion with retained breeding (s) for yourself.
• Sale of the Stallion with retained breeding (s) for your business geographic area or country.
• Pease of mind, knowing your $ investment has a small "Safety Net" reserve for the unexpected.

Frozen Semen TankThings I have learned since starting a Semen Freezing Business

For Mares and their Owners: Breeding mares with Frozen Semen has received a bad reputation due to problem extenders causing inflammation in the uterus. Most semen seems to be processed in a lactose base freeze extender, as it is an easy procedure, much faster in time for the processor and does not require sophisticated freezing equipment, only a Styrofoam box. We believe it is the wrong extender to use for the mares as it generally causes a uterine flair up resulting in lowered conception rates. The Motility rates appear to be the same.

Equine Cryogenic Service uses the Modified French formula 5 freeze extenders, which has a more demanding 2+ hour freeze process, as the first choice extender. Our Planner MRV Computer - Control Rate Freezing Chamber complements this demanding freeze process, with quality temperature control processing, yielding better semen freeze results. We no longer process lactose base extenders.

For Stallions and their Owners:

Semen Freezing is not for every breeder nor do all Stallions freeze within acceptable parameters. Most will tell you that 50% motility is acceptable if not great. However, I see higher % motility’s in my business than the standard target of 50%. I attribute this consistent high percentage to my processing procedure. The Semen Freezing at Equine Cryogenic Service is processed at 10 degrees centigrade, not room temperature, as all others process. The "10 degrees" is what most containers cool semen. (There goes my trade secrete.) To the best of my knowledge, Equine Cryogenic Service is the only one processing semen for freezing at 10 degrees.

When Semen is Fed Ex-ed to me or brought to me, I receive it at about 10 degrees in a shipping container-extended-cooled. If we collect the stallion, we cool it to 10 degrees as if shipping. My in-lab processing, centrifuging, packaging straws / goblets, start of freeze programming; is all at 8 to 10 degrees centigrade. We never allow the semen to warm up again or process any semen at body or room temperature. Why? Another Good Question.
Answer = Simple biological rule of thumb is that for every 10 degrees you reduce a biological product, a 50% reduction in biological activity occurs. So to show you the math, take body temp 37 degrees, -10 to 27 = 50%, -10 to 17 = 50% x 50% = 25%, -10 to 7 = 50% of 25% = 12.5% at 7 degrees. Simple math tells me that I am processing semen at about 10 degrees or (one sixth = 16 to 17%) biological activity Vs everyone else. Somewhat Different, a pain in the butt, yet seems to produce much better consistent results. Or more bang for your buck. (There are a few other unmentionable processing techniques too, such as the Computer Controlled Freeze Curve Rates and time.) I generally see post thaw motility similar to the cooled shipped semen motility, 60 to 70%.

I know it has to be less, but looks very similar as if the frozen semen thawed was only 1 day old cooled semen, which will work well in the breeding barn. If your stallion ships good with cooled semen, then he should have good, if not better than the average frozen semen. Just think, you could have one day old semen at your finger tips 360 days a year if needed, within a few minutes.

Processing semen at a 10 degrees cooled state has other potential benefits as well. In years to come we will track the filly / colt ratios for foals born from frozen semen. I am thinking that many of the faster swimmers, possibly Y chromosome sperm having a lower molecular weight by 3%, will escape the freeze process. We no longer try to catch them in the centrifuge tube. This should result in a higher filly ratio compared to all other breeding. If you really wanted a colt, we would re-process the pour off sperm (faster swimmers) and A.I or freeze them. Time will tell. This seems like the first day in a 20 year venture for me at Santolina.

We continue to try to do those special things beyond the norm. We will work with your vet or ours to resolve a problem. Knowing our past success, I invite you to bring us your mare problem breeders, the lame ones to swim rehabilitate and the special older ones to care for. In March we are expecting a (previous 3 years barren, unable to get pregnant) mare that is 25 years old, to foal, bred with "concentrated" cooled shipped semen from a 25 year old stallion. Just ask Heather or Julie or Dr. Stacey Sickler if they are excited. Also look to updates on our ET’s, freezing Embryos and Oocytes. The Sperm Acrosomal head fluorescent stain should be up and running in the spring. Measurement of the Active Acrosome on the sperm head is the true indicator of % fertility. Motility is our second indicator.
Have a safe breeding year and come visit us at Santolina.

Jack & Kim Farmer
Equine Cryogenic Service
Santolina Farm Inc.