Navigating Breeding Challenges: When to Seek Animal Reproduction Services


Making the decision to breed your pets or livestock can be exciting, but it can also come with many challenges. From conception difficulties to birthing complications, animal breeding attempts do not always go as planned. 

As a breeder or farmer, knowing when to seek professional help for reproduction issues is key for the wellbeing of your animals and success of your breeding program.

Common Breeding Setbacks

Failure to conceive after multiple breeding attempts is one of the most frustrating breeding challenges. This could be due to either the male or female being infertile, poor breeding timing, health issues, incompatible animals, or other factors interfering with successful conception.

If a female does become pregnant, late term pregnancy complications can still occur. Prolonged gestation, pregnancy toxemia, uterine inertia during labor, mispositioned fetuses, uterine ruptures, and primary postpartum hemorrhage are some of the emergencies that can put the birthing mother and offspring at risk without prompt treatment.

Newborn crias, calves, lambs, kids and other neonates also face high rates of morbidity and mortality around the birthing process if not cared for properly. Weak neonates, maternal neglect or trauma, congenital defects, infections, starvation, hypothermia and other problems threaten sensitive young animals in early life.

Knowing When to Call for Help

So how do you know when it is time to seek expert help with your breeding program? There are a few clear signs that point to needing veterinary reproductive services or advice:

  • Three or more failed breeding attempts with no offspring produced
  • Prolonged gestation past the normal window
  • Failure to progress in labor after stage one contractions and full cervix dilation
  • Evidence of pregnancy complications like toxemia, uterine ruptures or hemorrhaging
  • Any sign of distress, abnormal positioning, or difficulty giving birth
  • Neonates who are weak, rejected by the mother, or not nursing
  • Congenital defects identified at birth

Seeking help after one or two unsuccessful breeding attempts is not always necessary if the animals are healthy and of optimal breeding age and weight. However, if reproductive problems persist for multiple heats or breeding seasons, then it is ideal to bring in a professional for fertility testing and treatment.

Likewise, while some minor delivery difficulties or poor maternal behavior may resolve on their own, any life-threatening emergencies during labor, birth and the postpartum period warrant urgent veterinary care. Newborn health checks and monitoring are also wise to identify and treat neonatal problems early on.

Reproduction Services Available

So, what type of professional animal reproduction services are available when these breeding challenges arise? Here are some of the services you may need:

  • Fertility Exams and Testing: Veterinarians can perform full reproductive assessments and diagnostic testing to identify underlying issues causing infertility in males and females. Problems like improper hormone function, low sperm counts, structural defects, infections and more may be discovered.
  • Artificial Insemination: Semen collection and artificial insemination are options if there are fertility problems with just one mate. Semen analysis is first done to ensure viable sperm before manually placing the semen directly into the female’s uterus when she is ovulating. This minimizes breeding behavior challenges.
  • Hormone Therapies: Supplemental hormone treatments address hormonal imbalances or heat induction issues to improve ovulation, pregnancy and birthing outcomes. Prostaglandins, progestins, estrogens, and gonadotropins are examples.
  • In Vitro Fertilization: In difficult cases, in vitro fertilization creates embryos by manually combining eggs and sperm in a laboratory and then transferring the embryos into the female once ready to implant in the uterus.
  • Dystocia Correction: If labor is not progressing, vets manually manipulate fetuses into better birthing positions, administer medications for uterine stimulation and perform emergency C-sections if necessary.
  • Neonatal Resuscitation and Care: Weak newborns may need oxygen therapy, heat and fluid support, infection treatment, tube or bottle feeding, umbilical care and more. Addressing problems early in at-risk offspring is vital.

In most cases, a thorough exam, testing if indicated, proper diagnosis, and targeted treatment is enough to resolve fertility problems or other minor breeding challenges. But in emergency situations like dystocia, hemorrhaging, or major newborn health crises – urgent intervention is critical. Having an emergency plan in place with your local large animal vet or nearest veterinary emergency and critical care center can save lives in dire situations.

Preventative Care Recommendations

While it may seem easier and cheaper to take a more reactionary approach to breeding challenges – only calling a veterinary specialist when major crises strike – this strategy often leads to poorer outcomes, higher expenses long term, and unnecessary animal suffering.

A wiser approach for breeders is embracing preventative care from the start to minimize the likelihood of urgent reproduction emergencies. Some recommendations include:

  • Conducting routine wellness and pre-breeding exams to ensure all animals meet health, weight, and fitness standards before being cleared for breeding attempts. Addressing problems prior strengthens fertility chances.
  • Discussing optimal timing for introductions, breeding, pregnancy care, and delivery preparation with your veterinarian. Following best practice guidelines tailored for your stock’s needs improves outcomes.
  • Establishing an early neonate monitoring plan. Scheduling follow up farm visits in the first days and weeks after birth for routine newborn exams allows vulnerabilities to be caught and remedied early before they become bigger issues.
  • Having emergency contacts and transport plans in place for urgent scenarios requiring intensive, after-hours specialist treatment

Following these preventative guidelines helps achieve breeding and birthing success more consistently while also reducing risks to animals under your care. Being proactive minimizes losses and expensive crisis interventions over the long run.

Final Words 

While difficulties are expected from time to time in any animal breeding program, experts should be tapped when problems risk animal health, life or your operation’s productivity. Knowing the warning signs of when to seek support allows breeders to act fast and minimize detriments from reproductive issues. Partnering with specialty vets in theriogenology, obstetrics and neonatology care ensures the highest quality solutions are available when breeding and birthing crises emerge. Being prepared, vigilant and proactive with reproductive care gives breeding stock and offspring their best chances of positive outcomes.


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