Exercise Affects Reproductive Ability in Horses

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Newsdate: Wed, 26 Dec 2012 - 09:15 am
Location: GAINESVILLE, Florida

In the latest issue of the Journal of Animal Science, researchers at Clemson University and the University of Florida examine the impact of exercise on mare reproductive health and embryo transfer. In the study, researchers divided light-horse mares into three research groups: no exercise (control), partial-exercise and full-exercise. 

Research into horse reproduction

Research into horse reproduction

Study showed that exercise-induced cortisol concentrations have effects on reproduction in horses, with the partial-exercised group of mares having the lowest embryo quality score.

Their goal was to measure reproductive blood flow and embryo number and quality. Partial-exercise mares were moderately exercised for 30 minutes daily during the periovulatory period and rested after ovulation for seven days. Full-exercise mares were exercised for 30 minutes daily throughout the reproductive cycle.

Results from the study showed that exercise induced greater cortisol concentrations in horses. Cortisol has been shown to have effects on reproduction.

Embryo recovery rates were reduced in exercised horses compared to the control group. There was no significant difference in embryo recovery rates for partial-exercise and full exercised groups, but the partial-exercised group had the lowest embryo quality score.

"This led us to conclude that exercise was just as detrimental, if not more so, to the time period just prior to and during fertilization," said Christopher Mortensen of the University of Florida and one of the authors of the study.

The impact of exercise on early pregnancy is still an area that needs further research. Researchers are looking to study embryo quality because advancing technology has allowed embryo transfer to become a vital part of the horse industry.

"What we hypothesize is the reduced hormone concentrations may be having an effect on the mare's oocytes, meaning they are not as 'competent' and have a reduced ability to be fertilized, or if fertilized, compromised embryo development," said Mortensen.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..

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