Your brood female is one of the most important assets of your breeding program. Having a well-bred, successful race female to breed on 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 create problems that may seriously affect your chances of breeding a successful litter.
Monitoring seasons and cycles
Even if you do not plan to mate your female at her next season, you should be monitoring and recording each ‘heat’ cycle so that you have a good idea of when to expect her to ‘come in’ and how long her normal cycle lasts. A good breeder doesn’t allow accidental matings to occur.
If you are checking regularly, you should notice the first signs of the season, watching for the swelling and bleeding that indicates the start of the season. A female is usually ready to mate around Day 10 of her cycle (although this can vary).
‘But my brood females are off-site’
Just because you choose to house your brood females off-site, that doesn’t mean that you can just 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 female need to stay healthy and fit?
Your brood female needs to receive as good a level of care as your race dogs – good food, regular parasite control and vaccinations, exercise and activity.
Ideally a brood female should be fed a complete and balanced diet all the time to keep her body stores 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 vet about a recommended diet to keep your brood female 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 a large 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. Keeping vaccines 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 females immunity once she has been mated. These days there are many vaccines available, some that even last for 3 years – so speak to your vet about which one you should be using.
Brood females need to remain fit and active. Regular galloping, exercise, or a walk around the block or up the road on the leash 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.