Semen collection with an artificial vagina while the stallion mounts a phantom rather than a live “jump mare” is practiced by most collection facilities and is a way to increase safety for both the stallion and the handlers, as well as improve the hygiene of the collection process.
Training a stallion to mount a phantom can be accomplished with nearly all stallions, including novice stallions that have no breeding experience. I will work with juvenile/novice stallions to get their body and mind in shape while fostering an attentive, cooperative attitude. Ground work includes various forms of ground and liberty work using Positive Reinforcement (+R). I teach them to conquer obstacles, climb stairs and stand on a mounting block. These simple tasks teach self-control, which are essential when they’re in the presence of other horses, most especially mares. Through consistent training and conditioning, I teach and condition young stallions to act calm and listen responsively while in the collection area, jump the phantom and collect using an artificial vagina (AV). Stallions must be two (2) years of age to enter this program, but no older than four (4).
NOTE: A juvenile stallion aged two (2) may be trained to mount a phantom, but may not be sexually mature enough to reproduce. Most veterinarians advise owners to wait until the stallion is three years old before collecting semen for insemination. There are a number of reasons why it is advised waiting until stallions are three before starting their breeding career:
- Stallions reach puberty (defined as the age when they can produce 50 million sperm with >10% motility) generally between one-and-a-half and two years of age.
- Testosterone increases after about 20 months of age and spermatogenesis develops to where there is a complete compliment of germ cell types in the testicle at 24-36 months.
- Sexual maturity however, is not reached until 4-5 years of age. Daily sperm production (DSP) is directly related to testicular size and the stallion’s testicles will continue to grown until sexual maturity is reached.
- It is also common for ejaculates collected from two-year-old stallions to exhibit low motility and a low percentage of structurally normal sperm, thus resulting in low-pregnancy.