Administration of oxytocin immediately after insemination does not improve pregnancy rates in mares bred by fertile or subfertile stallions. Academic Article uri icon


  • It is probable that reduced pregnancy rates in mares bred to subfertile stallions is attributable, in part, to the reduced number of normal spermatozoa that colonize the oviduct. Administration of oxytocin stimulates both uterine and oviductal contractility. The hypothesis that oxytocin may enhance sperm transport to/into the oviducts, and thereby increase pregnancy rates, was tested in 2 trials. For both trials, fertile estrous mares with follicles > or = 35 mm in diameter were inseminated once at 24 h after administration of 1500 to 2000 U hCG. The inseminate dose was limited to 100 million spermatozoa in order to lower pregnancy rates and thus increase the chance of detecting a treatment effect. Pregnancy status was determined by transrectal ultrasound examination 14 to 16 d after insemination. In Trial 1, 49 mares were inseminated with 4 mL extended semen from 1 of 3 stallions (1 fertile and 2 subfertile males). Immediately after insemination, the mares were administered either 20 U oxytocin or 1 mL saline intravenously. In Trial 2, 51 mares were inseminated with 4 mL extended semen from 1 of 4 stallions (1 fertile and 1 subfertile male used in Trial 1, and 2 additional fertile males). Immediately after insemination, and again 30 min later, mares were administered either 5 U oxytocin or 0.25 mL saline intramuscularly. To test for effects of treatment with oxytocin and for the interaction between semen quality and treatment, a generalized linear mixed regression model was used that accounted for the split-plot design (treatment within stallions), the random effect of stallion, the fixed effect of semen quality, the binary outcome of a single breeding trial, and the varying number of trials per stallion/treatment groups. Three treatment protocols or regimens were used: placebo, 5 U oxytocin injected twice intramuscularly, and 20 units oxytocin injected twice intravenously. Semen was classified as high (fertile stallions) or low (subfertile stallions) quality. No interaction between semen quality and treatment was detected (P > 0.10). The pregnancy rate of mares treated with oxytocin immediately after insemination was 30% (15/50) compared with 50% (25/50) for mares treated with saline immediately after breeding. Administration of oxytocin did not affect pregnancy rates (P > 0.10).

published proceedings

  • Theriogenology

author list (cited authors)

  • Rigby, S., Hill, J., Miller, C., Thompson, J., Varner, D., & Blanchard, T.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Rigby, S||Hill, J||Miller, C||Thompson, J||Varner, D||Blanchard, T

publication date

  • April 1999