Your brood female is your most important asset when breeding. Having a well-bred, successful race female to breed from is every breeder’s aim. Keeping her fit and healthy is necessary if you are going to breed potential superstars. Neglect her, or her health, and you will create problems that may seriously affect your chances of breeding a successful litter.
It is also useful to know as much as you can about the reproductive process. More information can be found in the booklet Reproductive Anatomy – Getting Pregnant which can be found on the Breeder Resources page.
Monitoring seasons and cycles
It is good practice to monitor and record each ‘heat’ cycle of your brood, whether you plan to breed with her or not, so that you have a good idea of when she is likely to ‘come on’ and how long her normal cycle lasts.
By checking regularly when you think she is due, you should notice the tell-tale swelling and bleeding which are the first signs of season, giving you plenty of time to move her away from any males, if required, before she is ready to mate (around day 10 of her cycle although this can vary). This way you can avoid the risk of an accidental mating.
‘But my broods are off-site’
Just because you choose to house your broods off-site, doesn’t mean you can forget about them. Make sure the people who are responsible for caring for her when you are not there have the same goals as you and provide the same level of care.
What does a brood need to stay physically and mentally healthy?
Your brood needs to receive as good a level of care as your race dogs – good food, regular parasite control and vaccinations, exercise and activity. This is not just in the time leading up to a pregnancy but during a pregnancy and the whelping period.
More information on the care and welfare of your brood can be found on the Breeders Resources page with the following booklets providing essential information about the breeding environment, care of the female, pregnancy and whelping:
- Care and Husbandry in the Breeding Environment
- Reproductive Anatomy – Getting Pregnant
There is also a very useful booklet which provides invaluable information on Care and Early Development in the first 20 weeks of birth.
Ideally, a brood should be fed a complete and balanced diet all the time to keep her body stores of nutrients fully stocked. She should not be allowed to get too fat or too thin as this also affects her ability to get in whelp and birth pups. If you are not sure that what you are feeding her is right, speak to your greyhound veterinarian about a recommended diet to keep her in top condition.
Control of parasites, both internal and external, needs to continue regularly. External parasites such as fleas can lead to anaemia and tape worm infestation. Internally, intestinal worms need to be kept under control to ensure optimum health, and to stop part of her diet being used up feeding these parasites. Worms are passed to the puppies via the milk, so making sure your breeding female is regularly wormed means there will be less chance of worms being transmitted to the puppies in those first few weeks.
The immunity that is passed onto puppies by the female in the first few days of life is critical to their survival and wellbeing. Keeping the female’s vaccinations up to date ensures pups get plenty of early immunity to diseases that might otherwise lead to illness or death. Most veterinarians recommend that a female not be vaccinated whilst pregnant, so it is too late to think about boosting your female’s immunity once she has been mated. These days there are many vaccines available – some C3 vaccines even last for 3 years – so speak to your veterinarian about which one you should be using.
Broods need to remain fit and active. Regular galloping, exercise or a walk around the block can help keep her fitness up and provide an outlet for any excess energy.
Keep in mind that the female can influence the temperament of the puppies, both genetically, and through early experience, so a calm, relaxed female is much better than a skittish one. Making sure that she has regular outings and meets a variety of people can help her remain calmer during the stressful time of a litter.