Fresh approach to horse breeding techniques set to yield improved results

Published: 6 April 2006 at 10:54

A unique behavioural audit developed by one of the UK’s leading animal welfare experts looks set to revolutionise the horse breeding industry.

Dr Mark Kennedy of Anglia Ruskin University has perfected an approach which enables the analysis of aspects of both stallion and mare behaviour with a view to an increased likelihood of conception taking place.

“Just like humans each animal has different personality traits and these can have a marked effect during the mating season. Understanding this can make a considerable difference to a stud’s breeding programme – sometimes affecting the success rate by as much as 20 percent,”

said Dr Kennedy.

“Traditionally when a mare and stallion are introduced there can be just a 50 to 60 percent chance that a foal will result. Yet lack of success is expensive, time consuming and frustrating, especially when no physiological cause can be attributed”.

“A bespoke behavioural audit which results in a detailed report and assistance with the remedial programme could make a considerable difference to stud finances and to the welfare of the animals concerned,”

he added.

Dr Kennedy, a Vice President of the Horse Commission of the European Association for Animal Production, has studied equine behaviour for over fourteen years and he believes his practical experience will lead to increased profit for stud owners. He has personal experience of managing a riding centre, lecturing on stable management and has British Horse Society qualifications relating to the commercial care and management of horses.

“There can be myriad reasons why mating may fail, including lack of libido on the part of the stallion or stress affecting the mare’s willingness to co-operate. However each case is unique and the techniques required to solve the problem will be needed in varying combinations,”

added Dr Kennedy.

The behavioural audit, which on average involves a full day visit by Dr Kennedy, is being offered to all those who breed horses, whether for racing, eventing, dressage or pleasure.