An unusual case of sudden decline in sperm motility in a healthy stallion

An unusual case of sudden decline in sperm motility in a healthy stallion

An interesting case of a 10 year old Thoroughbred stallion who after having good fertility parameters for his initial 5 seasons at stud, had a marked drop off in fertility rate in his sixth season and an even more profound decrease in his seventh season. The stallion had moved farms at the conclusion of the breeding season previous to the initial rapid decline in fertility rate.

The stallion had reliably good libido and typically covered mares on first jump. Dismount samples showed poor sperm motility, which were confirmed on veterinary breeding soundness examinations. The stallion was otherwise healthy and was receiving no medications.

A thorough case history eluded to key differences between the two farms. The farm the stallion had moved to where he experienced significant decreases in sperm motility was in very close proximity to coal mines and also employed intensive farming practices- involving high application of phosphate fertilisers and pesticides.

Coal mines are known to be a source of the toxic heavy metal cadmium. Fertilisers made from phosphate contain cadmium which can accumulate in the soil- particularly over time and repeat application. Many commercial pesticides contain cadmium. Cadmium has been demonstrated to impact semen quality and reduce sperm motility.

A key part of successfully treating this stallion was to use nutraceuticals and specific prescription herbal medicines to promote chelation (the binding and excretion) of the cadmium, in addition to directly promoting sperm motility.

In his first season following intervention the stallion’s fertility rates returned to the high levels they were at prior to moving farms. Dismount samples also showed significantly improved sperm motility.

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