Breeding season is a crazy time of year for us but we all relish in the long, hard days and generally unpredictable schedule because there are so many pay-offs. Not least among these pay-offs is the arrival of long anticipated foals and the opportunity to help our clients with their new breeding plans as there is so much excitement in the planning and realization of breeding goals. We at Select Breeders Services (SBS) are all horse crazy and love the opportunity to share in this with our clients. So far, 2016 has been a great year for us. Continued growth in our mare management services division has meant an increase in staffing, so we have several new team members to introduce.
In March, we welcomed Katie Williams (photo left) to SBS as our Storage and Distribution Technician. She is responsible for handling our daily frozen semen shipments and managing our large inventory of frozen semen. Katie Wilhelm was previously in this role and has since moved on to become an Operations Manager of a busy historical restoration construction company. This has led to a little confusion for both us and our clients with “old Katie” being replaced with “new Katie”. However, gradually “new Katie” is introducing herself to everyone as she communicates with them regarding their frozen semen inventory.
New employees at SBS Veterinary Services (SBS VS) include Matt Williams. He will assist barn manager, Melissa Smith, with the day to day care of all the mares at our mare management facility. Kate Krukar has taken on the role of part-time veterinary technician to assist Dr. Scofield with patient exams. We are also currently looking to hire a full time vet tech/lab tech (click here for more info). Our summer interns are Amelia “Molly” Rogus from Penn State and Brendan Sarnecky from Utah State. Click here for additional information on our internship programs.
In September, Julie Skaife, will celebrate 10 years of employment at SBS - how time has flown by, and we hope she will be with us for another 10 years. Jonathan Clark still holds the record of 22 years of employment with SBS. Our office Manager, Pat Blailock, has been with us 4 years and our stallion handler, Bud Emmons, has been with us for 5 years although he was also the stallion handler when we were based at Hilltop Farm.
At SBS-MD we have three primary aspects of our business - our stallion center, our veterinary services and mare management division. We also serve as the headquarters for the SBS Affiliate Laboratory Network. Below is a brief update on each of these areas.
Each morning during the breeding season we perform collections and processing for cooled semen shipments at both Iron Spring Farm and Hilltop Farm. We also service local clients that trailer in for cooled semen collections and we have several stallions standing with us for cooled semen management. Our frozen semen distribution program keeps very busy with approximately 700 shipments throughout the season. We also receive many imports of frozen semen this time of year, with breeders bringing in semen from abroad to service their own mares or for incorporation into our storage and distribution program.
Although the majority of semen freezing is done during the fall and winter we’ve had a welcomed increase in the number of stallions coming in for semen freezing so far this year. We see all breeds here at the Maryland office and our breeding shed has serviced everything from Miniature stallions to >18 hand Percherons. As breeding season slows down we will see more stallions coming to us for semen freezing having completed their summer competition seasons or cooled semen programs at home. Much of this freeze work is for export with many trying to get semen qualified and exported to Australia/NZ in time for the southern hemisphere breeding season. Our mobile lab starts on the road usually around the end of July or early August.
We have been involved in several collaborative research projects this year including:
- An Investigation of the Role of microRNA in Stallion Fertility, with Dr. Gary Althouse and Dr. Elizabeth Woodward at UPenn, New Bolton Center.
- Mitochondrial Oxidative Function of Stallion Sperm as a Novel Indicator of Aging and Cryopreservation Success in Stallions, with Dr. Stuart Meyers at UC Davis.
- Identification of Heritable Genetic Components Contributing to Cryosurvival in Stallion Sperm, with Dr. Samantha Brooks and Dr. Malgozatar Pozor at University of Florida.
- Seminal Plasma and Sperm Chromatin Proteins from Good and Poor Fertility Stallions, with Dr. Ralph Meyer at Utah State University
We have mailed out DNA sampling kits to many QH stallion owners with a request for their participation in the University of FL genetics study. If you have received one of these packets there is still time to submit samples, please do give us a call to be included.
Select Breeders Veterinary Services, LLC
Our veterinary services and mare management program has experienced rapid growth since its inception in 2012. Each year we welcome an increasing number of mares for breeding with cooled or frozen semen. Dr. Dave Scofield is board certified in Theriogenology and word is getting out about his expertise with those difficult to manage and barren mares. So in addition to our local client base we have welcome several mares referred from out of state and even Canada. Our foaling program has really grown and so far this year we’ve welcomed 30 foals with still many more to come. We have a crew of dedicated foal watchers and most have had the pleasure of being able to watch a foal being born on their shift, the true reward for all those late nights in the barn. This foaling season was extra special for having successfully grafted two orphan foals onto recipient mares that had been induced into lactation (more on this story here). Due to the success of our embryo transfer program our recipient mare herd is growing and this has necessitated expansion. We have moved our recipient herd to a beautiful 35-acre property (photo above) just down the street. We have outfitted the lush pastures with new fencing, run in sheds and catch pens. The embryo transfer program has grown with an increased number of donor mares coming to SBS for breeding and flushing on site as well as an increase in the number of embryos shipped in from around the Eastern US for transfer into our recipients.
SBS Affiliate Laboratory Program
We now have 23 Affiliate labs within our global network, recent additions are Reid and Associates Equine Hospital near Wellington, FL, Alliance Stud in Simpsonville, KY and our first affiliate in Central America, I.A. Servicios de Costa Rica S.A. Employees from all SBS Affiliate Laboratories are trained at SBS-HQ in Maryland according to our detailed Standard Operating Procedures. As a SBS Affiliate Lab they have access to our proprietary extenders and are required to participate in our pioneering quality control program. The structure of our affiliate program has been modified in recent years to make it more accessible and affordable for interested vet clinics. Please click here for more information about our Affiliate Program and feel free to call for additional details.
In 2017, SBS will celebrate 30 years of service to the equine breeding industry and we would like to thank all of the dedicated employees, partners and especially our loyal clients who have made this possible. We are grateful for our continued growth and the exciting opportunities that await us in the next 30 years.