Fertility techniques used for horses with Dr. Giorgia Podico


Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Women tend to have kids later in life for various reasons. This is also the case for some horses.

Mares with brilliant athletic careers are not bred until later in life. Similar to women, mares can have fertility issues related to their age.

At the University of Illinois, there is a team of experts that offer advanced fertility treatments to overcome those issues.

Joining us today is Dr. Giorgia Podico, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital who works exclusively with horses and other equids that have fertility issues.

Dr. Podico says the process involves synchronizing the uterine cycles of the donor mare and the recipient mares.

One week after insemination, the donor mare undergoes an embryo retrieval process. This is NOT a surgical procedure, and the mare doesn’t even need to be sedated. It is a painless process in which a small tube is inserted into the uterus and a fluid is used to flush out the embryo (if there is one). Then doctors evaluate the fluid to see if it contains an embryo.

If so, the embryo is isolated so it can be inserted via a pipette into the uterus of the broodmare, whose uterus is in a ready state for motherhood. This embryo placement procedure also is non surgical and without sedation.

Dr. Podico says there is about a 50% to 70% success rate for the embryo retrieval and also the embryo implantation procedures.

The older racehorse in the photo was having trouble getting pregnant. She will actually have FOUR offspring delivered next year, each carried by a younger mare. (Horses usually only have one foal at a time. Rarely twins, which pose problems for delivery.)

There are lots of ways our veterinary experts work with stallions to enhance reproductive capabilities as well!

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