EQUUS - - Eq Letters -

A new study from Brazil sug­gests that man­ag­ing a mare’s en­vi­ron­ment to re­duce her stress lev­els af­ter she has been bred can in­crease the like­li­hood of a suc­cess­ful preg­nancy.

Re­searchers at Univer­si­dade Fed­eral do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Ale­gre stud­ied the breed­ing records of 1,206 Thor­ough­bred mares over the course of 10 breed­ing sea­sons. Based on how they were man­aged im­me­di­ately af­ter they were bred, the mares were di­vided into two groups: those who were man­aged in a man­ner in­tended to re­duce so­cial stresses—such as min­i­miz­ing or elim­i­nat­ing stall con­fine­ment and main­tain­ing herd sta­bil­ity—and those who were not.

A re­view of the foal­ing rates of the two groups showed that so­cial stress some­times seemed to in­flu­ence whether preg­nancy was car­ried to term. When mares that had not pro­duced a foal the pre­vi­ous year—known as “bar­ren”—were man­aged to re­duce so­cial stress, their preg­nancy rate was 7 per­cent higher than that of bar­ren mares who re­ceived no spe­cial man­age­ment. In all, the “low stress” group of bar­ren mares had a preg­nancy rate of 91.8 per­cent, while 84.7 per­cent of the bar­ren mares in the other group had suc­cess­ful preg­nan­cies.

The re­searchers con­clude that tak­ing steps to re­duce so­cial stress in mares im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing breed­ing can re­sult in in­creased foal­ing rates.

Ref­er­ence: “Man­age­ment strate­gies aim­ing to im­prove horse wel­fare re­duce em­bry­onic death rates in mares,” Re­pro­duc­tion in Do­mes­tic An­i­mals, May 2015

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