Horse embryo diameter is influenced by the embryonic age but not by the type of semen used to inseminate donor mares

J Cuervo-Arango*, A N Claes, T A E Stout

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The diameter of embryos recovered from mares on Day 8 after ovulation varies greatly, from as little as 130 μm to as much as 2500 μm. Several factors have been proposed to affect embryo size at recovery, one of which is the type of semen (frozen vs fresh or cooled-transported) used to inseminate the mare. In addition, it has been shown that smaller embryos (<300 μm) recovered on Day 8 are less likely than larger embryos to result in successful pregnancy after transfer. However, whether the actual age of the embryo (interval from fertilization to flushing) in relation to its size also influences the post-transfer viability is unclear. The aims of this study were: a) To determine the effect of semen type (frozen-thawed vs cooled-transported) on embryo diameter after pre-ovulatory insemination; and b) To establish the relationship between embryonic age, embryo size and likelihood of pregnancy and pregnancy loss following transfer. A total of 179 embryos were recovered from mares inseminated with: frozen semen post-ovulation 8 days previously (G1; n = 35); cooled-transported semen pre-ovulation 8.5 days previously (G2; n = 95); frozen semen pre-ovulation 8.5 days previously (G3; n = 30); and frozen semen post-ovulation 9 days previously (G4; n = 19). The effect of embryonic age, type of semen, donor mare and its age, number of ovulations and embryos per flush on embryo diameter was tested using a general linear model of variance. In addition, the proportions and survivals of small embryos (<300 μm) in each group were compared with those of respective larger embryos by Fisher's exact test. Embryonic age (P < 0.001) and age of the donor mare (P = 0.07), but no other factor, influenced embryo diameter. The proportion of small embryos was 42.9, 10.5, 10.0 and 10.5% for Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively. The pregnancy status of recipient mares 35 days post-transfer for small embryos from Group 1 (12/15; 80.0%) was not different (P > 0.1) from that of recipients of small embryos from Groups 2 to 4 combined (8/15; 53.3%).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)90-93
    Number of pages4
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2018


    • Mare
    • Embryo diameter
    • Frozen semen
    • Fertility


    Dive into the research topics of 'Horse embryo diameter is influenced by the embryonic age but not by the type of semen used to inseminate donor mares'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this