Vet’s guide to feeding for stallion fertility

By: Horse Deals

Vet’s guide to feeding for stallion fertility
Vet’s guide to feeding for stallion fertility

Expert advice on choosing the right diet for a stallion from Horse Deals’ vet Ed Lyall BVetMed CertEM(StudMed) MRCVS

There is a lot of talk about improving stallion semen quality to increase fertility. Thankfully most stallions do not have issues with fertility, however a busy stallion that has a large book of mares either to cover by natural mating, or artificial insemination must be given good care, optimising health will help maintain good quality sperm output.

One of the biggest problems is that stallions are allowed to become too heavy, this is more often the case with a breeding stallion that has retired from competition and has limited exercise as a consequence.

Obesity will have an effect on stallion libido, the stallion may become disinterested in mares, or the mount dummy for semen collection. More importantly obesity can lead to serious problems such as laminitis. 

Diet and nutrition

Ensuring that a stallion is given regular exercise will balance out calorific intake; even making use of a horse walker will help. 

It is important to remember that horses in general should get the majority of their nutrition from grass and roughage, such as hay and haylage, they should be offered 2-3% of their body weight in roughage per day. 

Stallions offered roughage throughout the day will be more settled as they should have a constant food intake to occupy them. 

On top of the roughage, a mineral and vitamin balancing supplement should be given. Other than this hard feed should be offered based on level of exercise and more importantly visual appearance. Some people find it difficult to feed by eye; they do not see the change in weight.  Making use of weigh bridges and weigh tapes can be helpful as can taking digital photos to record and remind you of their previous weights, can be a big help. Obviously as the season progresses a busy stallion may lose weight and it is important to see this change and increase the level of concentrate feed accordingly.

Turn out for stallions is important, grass is the normal source of nutrition for horses, also the stable environment can be detrimental to heath both physically and mentally.

Many studs have special high fenced stallion paddocks. Turn out will also help with limb circulation and will increase inherent fitness levels, as well as allowing stiff muscles from mating to stretch and loosen up.

Click here to see a list of stallions at stud