With the end of the winter quarter and week ten, I am done with the first half of my stud manager internship. Our week started off pretty quietly but ended with lots going on.
We had a couple mares to scan in the morning, Yellow and Starlano. Starlano is growing up her foal heat follicle, so if she makes it to day 9 post-foaling (or later) without ovulating, we will breed her on this cycle. I was able to scan Yellow by myself with Anthony writing down the follicle sizes, uterus and cervical tone, etc. I found both of her ovaries quickly which was exciting! I can definitely tell in this past week I have gotten much better at scanning the mares.
Before our stallion manager meeting, I rode Protege for the second time. I knew there was rain in the forecast for the entire week, so I figured I needed to at least get on him Monday before the storm came in. He was a good boy, but very adamant about going to the manure piles - more so than on Friday. It is so interesting how stallions feel the need to be more territorial - especially jacks!
During our meeting, we collected both Dun and Protege. Dun was a good boy as usual, Anthony and Julia collected and handled him. Protege was also a good boy, but took two times to mount again. I think it is just because he knows he can get away with it and do it twice.
Around 9PM, I got a phone call from Jessica saying "baby is coming" because our thoroughbred mare Shemariah was in labor. I rushed out to the barn from the Memorial Union across campus, and when I arrived Shemariah was on the ground writhing like a woman in labor. Jessica and Kelli got her off the ground, and Kelli began manipulating the foal inside of Shemariah. The baby had presented itself upside down (instead of in the classic diving position) and so Shemariah was having trouble pushing him out. Once Kelli manipulated him around into the proper presentation, they let the mare lay back down. From there, the parturition went pretty smoothly, except for the fact the Shemariah gave birth to him so close to a wall that he could barely come out! Watching made me very nervous, but once he was out and she was up, all was well. The john mule was HUGE when he was born - already larger than Starlano's foal who was a week old at the time. He is a dark bay, like his sire, Clyde's Gallant Fox.
Prior to Shemariah's foaling, she was tested for NI, and tested positive. This meant that as soon as her foal was able to stand, he had to be muzzled and not allowed to drink any of her colostrum (first milk). His foal managers had to bottle feed him banked colostrum every 2 hours until his gut had "closed".
NI stands for Neonatal Isoerthrolysis, but for a mare carrying a mule that tests positive for NI, we refer to it as "anti-donkey". The reason a mare will test positive for NI is because her and her foal have different blood groups. The mare will create antibodies against the foal's blood type, and once the foal is born it will receive those antibodies through the mare's colostrum, leading to lysis of the foal's red blood cells. To combat the foal receiving those antibodies, the foal will be muzzled and bottle fed. Once the foal's gut isn't "open" any longer (about 24 hours after birth), it can begin nursing from its dam like normal. Now that we know Shemariah is anti-donkey, she will not be bred to a jack again.
I spent my afternoon working on my digital story.
Wednesday we had a long list of mares to palpate! Anthony and I both got a lot of experience going in different mares to clean out and palpate. Starlano's follicle has grown quite a bit, so she will be palpated again tomorrow to see if we should breed her. The most exciting part of the palpations was getting to bring out our newest mare Al By Myself, "Celine". She is worth quite a bit, and still in excellent shape (no sway back and dropped belly from being a broodmare!) so we will be doing embryo flushes on her and placing embryos in other mares. I am not sure how many of them we will do, but I know we will aim for at least one. She is a big 17h appendix mare, who is pretty correct and just lovely. The whole Department of Animal Science is excited about her!
Starlano looked close to ovulating in the morning, so we artificially inseminated her in the afternoon, and then scanned her again around 7PM. Unfortunately, she had not ovulated yet at 7, so she had to be scanned again at 1AM - 6 hours after the 7PM scan. Her follicle at 7PM was 50mm and the walls of the follicle looked like they were beginning to break down.
Prior to scanning Starlano at 7, Julia and I teased our herd of mares. The mare herd has grown pretty large the past few weeks with the two new donations and the addition of some mares that will be recipients. We also have a CEH mare that will be coming to us to be bred to Dun.
We have a new stallion coming in for a clean out collection tomorrow morning at 6:30AM, an AQHA stud that goes by the barn name "Smarty". Yellow is close to ovulating, so if she hasn't ovulated by tomorrow we will be breeding her to him this year.
At 1AM, Starlano still had not ovulated, so Kelli told us she would scan her again at 8AM without us (since we all had class). When I arrived to the barn at 9AM, Kelli said Starlano had ovulated by 8 and was bred with another frozen dose of Faralay II. We will check her in two weeks to see if we can confirm an embryo!
Anthony and I then began scanning mares, since we had another long list of them. I was able to scan both Yellow, Coco, and Heather. Yellow is displaying signs of heat and seems to be close to ovulating. She will be bred to Smarty, so he arrived at a perfect time. We planned on collecting him Friday afternoon, but due to a very busy day - ended up moving him to Saturday morning. Fingers crossed Yellow holds out so we can get her bred!
The most exciting part of our ultrasounds was that both Rockville and Sadie who were bred two weeks ago had vesicles that look to be embryos! Sadie's looked the most promising, so we won't check her again until day 25 (3/28) to check for a heartbeat. Rockville's was clustered with some cysts, but looked to be a vesicle because it didn't squish from the pressure of the ultrasound probe. We will check her again Monday to see if it has moved at all and/or to see if it has grown in size. Rockville also double ovulated, so we will check for an asynchronous twin.
The management interns surprised Kelli with a birthday cake, which took a whole lot of coordination! That was a fun way to end the day. I fed dinner with Jessica afterwards, and then headed home.
All of the stud managers met at 10AM on Saturday to collect Smarty for the first time and then breed Yellow since she still had not ovulated.
We used Yellow as our tease mare in the breeding shed, and we were all able to get experience with a different stud - which was good - but different than what we are used to! Smarty hadn't been collected since 2016, so he was very unsure of the breeding shed. He also required much more stimulation from the mare than Dun and Protege do. He had to be in full contact with the mare to get stimulated enough to drop, and then kept trying to mount Yellow over the tease wall. When he seemed ready, Kelli tried to trot him around to the phantom to mount, but once he got to the phantom he seemed confused and refused to mount.
It seemed to me like he wasn't phantom trained at all, but I think he is just out of practice and is also used to having the mare right next to the phantom when he mounts. Eventually we got him to mount, but he didn't ejaculate and was taken back to his stall. After ten minutes, we tried again, but with me holding Yellow parallel to the phantom. He mounted about five more times, all of which failed. Kelli decided to put him away and try again two hours later, at 2PM. I was unable to come back to the barn, but Anthony & Jake reported that the collected him on the first mount and then bred Yellow. Jake checked Yellow for ovulation on Sunday and she had ovulated. So now we wait and see if she gets in foal! She will be checked in two weeks.