A survey of reproductive performance in Thoroughbred mares and morbidity, mortality and athletic potential of their foals

Authors

  • P. S. MORLEY,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, 1900 Coffey Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1092, USA
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  • H. G. G. TOWNSEND

    1. Department of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B4, Canada.
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Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, 1900 Coffey Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1092, USA

Summary

A survey was performed to evaluate the reproductive performance of Thoroughbred mares, estimate risks of dystocia and of morbidity and mortality in foals during the first year post partum and their physical acceptability at age one year. The study population consisted of registered Thoroughbred mares and their foals owned by residents of 4 Western Canadian provinces. Owners were identified using information obtained from the North American Jockey Club, and questionnaires were mailed regarding mares bred in 1988 and their foals born in 1989. Eighty-three per cent of mares were reported to be pregnant at some stage following breeding, and 80% of pregnant mares subsequently gave birth to live foals. Estimates of morbidity and mortality were greater than previously reported, 25% of foals had health problems and 5% died during the first 2 weeks post partum. Twenty-seven per cent of foals surviving 2 weeks were reportedly affected by some health problem between age 15 days and one year, and 6% died during this period. The case fatality rates of horses with upper respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea were much lower than case fatality rates for infectious diseases occurring less frequently. The rate of death or euthanasia among horses with musculoskeletal problems was relatively high after age 2 weeks. Foals with health problems up to age 2 weeks, or between age 15 days and one year were 5 to 7 times more likely to be classified as physically unacceptable for athletic use. Angular limb deformity was the health problem most commonly reported in foals receiving unacceptable physical assessments, and assessments of long-term athletic potential were apparently not affected by the occurrence of infectious diseases.

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