Although this tiny miniature horse stallion's wither only reaches my mid-thigh, he has proved size doesn't always matter in the breeding shed.

Breeding livestock: It’s all about the math

Those of you that raise and breed livestock as either a hobby or as part of your livelihood know that it is not an easy task. I’ve raised and bred rabbits and goats in the past, but this year I took on the challenge of breeding horses.

This spring after surviving my first foaling season, it was time to rebreed the mares. I decided I needed to really get going with this because my mares tend to foal around 335 days. I could rebreed the mares about a week after they foaled in their foal heat or I could wait another 21 days after that for their first full heat cycle.

After a lot of thought and math, I decided I didn’t want my foals to be born in March, so I waited and didn’t breed the mares during their foal heat. This could of course mean that, if they don’t become pregnant during their first full heat cycle, that I would have foals born even later in 2014, but that was a gamble I was willing to take.

I do have a minor in equine science from Ohio State so I have bred mares and managed studs, but I only performed artificial insemination. I never participated in live breeding where one person leads the mare and another person leads the stallion during the breeding session.

After I figured out when I needed to breed the mares, I then had to figure out how to breed the mares. My mares are 36 and 34 inches respectfully. I could pasture breed the mares by just turning a stud out with them, but the stud I ended up purchasing is only 29 inches. Simple math and a few observations led me to believe that my stallion would be unable to reach the mares to breed them without some assistance.

When I bought the stud, I really didn’t do enough math to consider the height differences in the mares and the stallion. I was more concerned about the economics. I thought the sellers were exaggerating his height, because I bought him through the Internet without seeing him in person. I was wrong. They weren’t exaggerating his height. This stallion is very short!

Because I purchased a tiny stud, I had to do some more math to figure out how to enable a 29-inch stallion to reach a 36-inch mare. I found a place in a dry lot near the barn that has a little platform in it. After some figuring and approximate measuring, I decided I could probably stand the stud on the platform that was elevated a few inches off of the ground and back the mare up to the platform to perform the breeding.

The entire procedure went better than I had anticipated. Without going into too much detail, I will say math and preparation go by the way side when you have a very willing mare and a very determined stallion. There’s also another sort of important set of mathematical calculations that came into play and became evident for the stallion once he was ready to breed the mare but I won’t go into detail on that, I’ll just say he is mighty impressive for such a little guy.

A well-mannered and determined male of the species you are trying to breed can become your biggest asset when breeding livestock, because (despite the math and measurements) sometimes a little stubbornness and determination on the part of the male is all that is really necessary.

Here’s hoping everyone had a terrific and successful breeding season this spring in all species of livestock.

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