A review of culling reasons in different Swedish horse populations and four case studies proving genetic variation in different diseases are presented. Locomotor problems are shown to be the most common cause of culling adult horses. However, many problems also occur at a young age. Stillbirths are shown to vary among and within breeds. Shetland ponies have a higher stillbirth rate than other breeds, especially in the “Mini” type. An abnormality of the extremity bones due to a recessive gene is also found within this breed. Osteochondrosis appears in about 11% of Standardbred trotter yearlings and the heritability is estimated at 0.1 on the visible and 0.2-0.3 on the underlying scale. The impact of osteochondrosis on performance is significant only when multiple lesions or clinical signs of synovial effusion are present. A fourth case, roaring, demonstrates the needs for progeny testing as this defect may be either of clearly genetic or of non-genetic origin
It is concluded that systematic recording and analyses of diagnosed diseases in horses are essential to monitor the health status of horse populations and for application of preventive measures, including selection, to improve the health of horses.
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 24: Sheep and goats (fibre); sheep and goats (meat and milk); poultry; horses; buffaloes., , 408–415, 1998
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