Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mares behaving badly

Plant oils might provide the answer to mares that are unruly when in season.

Some mares become unruly and difficult to manage when in season and perform poorly as a result. Various methods of controlling this behaviour have been suggested. Most are based on suppressing the oestrus cycle.

Sandra Wilsher and Professor Twink Allen at the Paul Mellon Laboratory of Equine Reproduction, Newmarket, England, were investigating the mechanisms of maternal recognition of pregnancy.

They found that intrauterine administration of oestrogen in fractionated coconut oil prevented mares returning to oestrus, However, they also found that the coconut oil alone (without oestrogen) had a similar effect, as did peanut oil.

Fractionated coconut oil was most effective when given 10 days after ovulation - luteolysis was delayed in 11/12 mares (92%). It was not as effective on days 8-12., although the difference was not statistically significant. When administered on the 6th day after ovulation, it inhibited luteolysis in only 25% of mares. 

Oestrogen in mineral oil, or mineral oil on its own did not block luteolysis when given 10 days after ovulation.

So it seems unlikely that embryonic oestrogens are important in the maternal recognition of pregnancy.

Fractionated coconut oil and peanut oil each contain various different fatty acids.  The researchers were unable to identify an individual component that was responsible for inhibiting luteolysis.  Instead, they suggested that it is likely that a range of fatty acids are capable of causing luteal persistence.

Further work is required to determine how the vegetable oils have this effect. However, it does seem that they may provide a practical way of preventing unruly behaviour in oestrus mares.


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