Question: What are some things I can do, as far as nutrition goes, to help my stallion produce quality sperm during breeding season?
Answer: To some, it may seem like the stallion’s role in breeding is a small one, especially when mares are artificially inseminated and can live across the world to be bred to them. However they are a key component in creating new life, and you want to give the mare owner the best shot at a successful pregnancy. Before breeding, both the stallion and the mare’s health and nutrition should considered.
Many stallions double as star athletes and are kept in the best condition possible for their jobs anyway. So, what can you do to help ensure they are receiving the best nutrition to support their ability to produce enough quality semen for the best chances at a successful pregnancy?
The first thing you can do is evaluate your stallion’s topline and body condition score. His BCS should ideally be around a 6 on a scale of 1-9 and this will tell you if he needs more or less calories. His Topline Evaluation Score will tell you if he’s receiving enough quality amino acids in his diet. You can just picture the silhouette of that healthy stallion with the beautiful neck and strong back. He should be kept at an ideal weight and should have proper muscling over his entire topline.
Balanced amino acids are what makes up the proteins your stallion needs to grow, function and perform his best. Feeding a feed that has the correct balance of essential amino acids is important in making sure the horse has what he needs to repair and recover muscle post workout. Essential amino acids are those that the horse doesn’t make with his body but rather needs to take in through a healthy diet. The non-essential amino acids are made by the horse’s body. Research shows that having the correct amount and ratios of the essential amino acids available in a feed is what helps contribute to a healthy topline. In some products you can see them listed right on the tag; however just because they are listed does not tell you if the horse can digest and absorb them. Not all products are created equal and the horse will tell you if the product works.
Semen quality and quantity can also be supported with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet improving the omega 6 and 3 ratio. The omega 3 content of the feed will be impacted by the source of fat in the diet. For example, soy oil and flaxseed would contain higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids than corn oil.
So although the stallion might not have to do as much work as the mare does when it comes to the process of carrying and birthing a foal, it is still very important that he is at his healthiest and best when he does make his contribution to make sure it counts. Breeding horses is expensive and time consuming. Making sure you start with the best from the beginning can make all the difference.