Heritabilities and genetic correlations between fetlock, hock and stifle osteochondrosis and fetlock osteochondral fragments in Hanoverian Warmblood horses



The main objective of this study is to estimate genetic parameters for osteochondrosis (OC) and osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) in fetlock, hock and stifle joints as well as for palmar or plantar osteochondral fragments (POFs) and dorsodistal osteochondral fragments (DOFs) in fetlock joints. For this purpose, the results of a standardized radiographic examination of 7396 Hanoverian Warmblood horses were used. Heritabilities and genetic correlations were estimated using residual maximum likelihood (REML) under a linear animal model. Heritability estimates for OC at the different joints were at 0.17–0.34, for OCD at 0.16–0.46, for POFs at 0.19 and for DOFs at 0.22 after transformation onto the liability scale. For osteochondral fragments (OFs), lower heritabilities were estimated, especially in fetlock joints. POFs were genetically negatively correlated with OC in each joint. The size of the heritability estimates indicates that the prevalence of these radiographic findings can be reduced by breeding measures. However, differentiation among the different clinical entities is crucial to avoid underestimation of heritabilities. The analysis of genetic parameters performed in this study indicates that OC and OCD in fetlock, OC and OCD in hock, OC and OCD in stifle joints, POFs of the hindlimbs and DOFs may be treated as different traits.