Unique to Vleteren: Horse breeders send frozen embryos to the US

Unique to Vleteren: Horse breeders send frozen embryos to the US

Mares of Macha, a famous horse breeding farm from Vleteren, has its own ranch. The horse breeder is the first in the world to send a frozen horse embryo across the Atlantic. Instead of seven full-length foals, these are tiny test tubes of barely 7g. “Our famous Belgian show jumped hot, and thanks to this development, our animals are more accessible all over the world,” he says proudly.

At the Olympics, you can’t miss the chance to watch the Belgian showjumping horses belong to the top of the showjumping rink. So toppers are in great demand all over the world, but the challenges in terms of transporting young horses and ponies are still very great. Vleterse horse farm Mares of Macha, a project of top riders Pieter Devos, Klaas Decoster and Frederik De Backer, wants to change that.

86 percent for foreign countries

For the first time in equine history, the Mares of Macha successfully transferred frozen horse embryos to the United States. Instead of moving full-term foals, only ten tubes of 7 grams each should be moved. “The first shipment to the United States became a lot cheaper: instead of 100,000 euros, the cost of flying was reduced to barely 1,000 euros,” says Peter DeVos.

About 86 percent of embryos sold from their coveted horses are exported abroad. “There is already a good network of transmission centers within Europe through which we have been able to bring embryos to breeders in the most important breeding countries,” says DeVos. But the demand was also huge outside Europe. Until today, no one has been able to export frozen embryos with the correct export papers.”

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After the United States, countries like Mexico, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand are waiting. “Embryo transfer is often more difficult in countries where horses have not yet been used,” explains Peter DeVos. “The problem often is that fetuses are not considered living organisms according to their legislation.”

surrogate mares

Maris or Masha mares do not reside in Belgium, but they are located in a giant area near Lake Garda in Italy. In Italy, mares are also fertilized using the method of artificial insemination. Under the microscope, the eggs are fertilized with sperm cells of the best breeding stallions, after which the embryo grows for ten days in a small tube and is stored in a nitrogen container. The embryos are transferred to the countries where they need to be transplanted into a surrogate mare.

Masha Mares owns around 35 exceptional mares and aims to breed world-class jumpers.

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