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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • reproductive performance;
  • mare;
  • reproductive efficiency;
  • Thoroughbred;
  • pregnancy

Summary

Reason for performing study: To improve efficiency at the farm level, a better understanding of how farm management factors impact reproductive performance is important.

Objective: To assess reproductive efficiency and effectiveness among Thoroughbred mares in central Kentucky.

Methods: A cohort of 1011 mares on 13 farms in central Kentucky was followed during the 2004 mating and 2005 foaling season. Information on farm level practices was collected via interviews with farm managers. Reproductive records were collected for each mare mated to obtain information on mare characteristics. The influence of mare age and status (maiden, foaling, barren) on Days 15 and 40 post mating pregnancy rates, foaling rates and total effective length of the mating season were assessed. The influence of stallion book size on reproductive performance measures was also examined.

Results: Per season pregnancy rates on Days 15 and 40 post mating and live foal rate were 92.1, 89.3 and 78.3%, respectively. Per cycle rates for the same time periods were 64.0, 58.3 and 50.8%. There were no significant associations between stallion book size and reproductive performance outcomes. The mean s.d. interval from the beginning of the mating season to the last mating of the mare was 36.5 ± 26.1 days.

Conclusions: Mare age had a significant impact on efficiency of becoming pregnant, maintaining pregnancy and producing a live foal. Overall, fertility did not decrease among stallions with the largest book sizes. Total interval length of the mating season can be reduced if managers ensure maiden and barren mares are mated at the beginning of the season and foaling mares are mated at the earliest oestrus after acceptable uterine involution has been achieved.

Potential relevance: Measures identified in the study can be used by owners, farm managers and veterinarians to improve mare reproductive performance and identify parameters to assist with the implementation of effective culling practices.