Mating(redirected from free mating)
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the coupling of agricultural animals, a means of natural insemination of dams by sires. Mating takes place when the female is in heat. Animals are allowed to mate for the first time when they reach sexual maturity: stallions and mares at the age of three years, bulls and cows at 15 to 18 months, rams and ewes at 12 to 18 months, and boars and sows at ten to 12 months. Animals of early-maturing breeds are mated somewhat earlier than those of late-maturing breeds.
There are several types of mating. Voluntary coupling takes place in herds in which the males and females are kept together at pasture or in pens. Selective mating takes place when males kept separately from the females are paired with certain designated females. This type of mating makes possible selection, increased breeding use of the sire, and the obtaining of offspring during specific periods of the year. In animal breeding, natural mating is replaced by artificial insemination, a more efficient method of insemination.