The dummy mare

A good alternative to a live jump mare is the use of a dummy or phantom mare (Kenney and Cooper, 1974; Richardson and Wenkhoff, 1976) (Fig. 5.19). Dummy mares were originally designed for stallions who were unable, for some reason, to mount a live jump mare. However, their use has now spread to become routine in semen collection (Kenney and Cooper, 1974; Richardson and Wencoff, 1976). Most stallions, given time and the initial encouragement of an oestrous mare in the vicinity, can be persuaded to mount a dummy mare and ejaculate into an AV. Adjustment by stallions used to natural service may

take some time, but most novice stallions not previously used for natural covering readily learn to accept the dummy mare for collection (Conboy, 1992). Even with stallions experienced in natural service there may, in time, be no need for the presence of an oestrous mare, as the stallion gets conditioned to the use of the dummy which, in itself, provides adequate sexual stimulation.

A dummy mare, in its simplest form, can be a large padded roll or barrel on four wooden legs. Many variations on, or additions to, this basic theme

Boar Semen Collection
Fig. 5.19. A dummy or phantom mare may be used as a mount for a stallion during semen collection. Note the hole into which the AV can be placed.

are available. There are a few requirements that should be met with regard to ease of use and safety.

It is essential that the dummy is sturdy and able to hold the weight of the thrusting stallion. Instability will result in potential danger to the stallion and the handlers and may result in the stallion feeling insecure and so objecting to ejaculating while mounted on the dummy. The dummy mares that are available with four legs (one at each corner) tend to be more stable. Those with a single or two central legs allow less scope for the stallion to get entangled in the supports, and are increasingly the more popular design (Fig. 5.19).

The dummy should be covered with a durable and ideally padded material which is non-abrasive and easy to clean (cow's hide may be used as a good non-abrasive material). Some dummy mares also have contours to mimic those of the mare, plus a withers area, or alternatively a neck guard or biting roll can be used to give the stallion material to grasp during collection (Figs 5.20 and 21). Some dummies have provision for an AV to be placed inside them, mimicking the natural position of the mare's vagina and so facilitating the collection process (Fig. 5.19) (Volkmann, 1987). The major advantage of the use of such dummies is that they allow collection to be carried out by a single person, provided the stallion is well trained and familiar with the process, rather than the normal requirement for two. A disadvantage is that such an arrangement makes it difficult to manipulate the AV and provide the manual stimulation required by some stallions.

Semen Collection Training Stallion
Fig. 5.20. A dummy mare may be designed with contours and a withers area to mimic the natural shape of the mare.
Vagina Equidame
Fig. 5.21. The most sophisticated systems incorporate a complete collection and computer analysis system within the dummy mare. (Equidame phantom, Haico Oy, Loimaa, Finland.)

Many dummy mares are also provided with adjustable legs or supports, which can be altered hydraulically or manually to match the height of the stallion (J.M. Parlevliet, 1992, The Netherlands, personal communication) or even form part of a complete collecting and evaluating system (Fig. 5.21). However sophisticated the dummy is, it must be placed in an area free of obstacles, with plenty of space to allow the stallion to mount, and with the handlers in a safe position. It must also allow an oestrous teaser mare to be placed either alongside or in front of the dummy to encourage reticent or novice stallions.

In the main, the use of a dummy mare provides a safer method of collection for both the handlers and the stallion. It also reduces the number of personnel required, possibly down to a single person (as indicated above). Although, in general, the use of a dummy mare is safer for all concerned, it is not without risk to the stallion. During natural covering, or with the use of a jump mare, the mare provides a shock-absorbing effect when the stallion covers her, allowing him to move forward a step or two as he mounts. Obviously the fixed dummy cannot act as a shock absorber and so there is the risk of penile damage, especially in overzealous stallions that charge the dummy at mounting, or that thrust vigorously.

+2 -1

Post a comment