Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Horse blind date could lead to loss of foal

Date:
June 20, 2011
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Fetal loss is a common phenomenon in domestic horses after away-mating, according to researchers. When mares return home after mating with a foreign stallion, they either engage in promiscuous mating with the home males to confuse paternity, or, failing that, the mares abort the foal to avoid the likely future infanticide by the dominant home male.

Mare and her foal. Domestic horse mares adopt a counter-strategy against male infanticide.
Credit: iStockphoto

Fetal loss is a common phenomenon in domestic horses after away-mating, according to Luděk Bartoš and colleagues, from the Institute of Animal Science in the Czech Republic. When mares return home after mating with a foreign stallion, they either engage in promiscuous mating with the home males to confuse paternity, or, failing that, the mares abort the foal to avoid the likely future infanticide by the dominant home male.

The study is published online in the Springer journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

In the Czech Republic, it is common practice for domestic horse mares to be removed from their home environment and transported elsewhere for mating. After conceiving, they are returned back into their home environments and social groups, often with familiar males. The authors looked at whether there was a link between the common practice of away-mating and fetal loss.

They distributed a questionnaire on reproduction to private horse owners in the Czech Republic through an equine internet server. They compared the frequency of abortion between mares which had conceived with a home stallion and those mated with a foreign stallion. They then looked at the sexual behavior of mares returning from away-mating.

Mares mated with a foreign stallion aborted in 31 percent of cases while none of the mares mated within the home stable aborted. Furthermore, mares were more likely to have disrupted pregnancies when home males were in adjacent enclosures.

Bartoš and colleagues' results uncover a new phenomenon in domestic horses: a female counter-strategy to male infanticide. It appears that domestic mares choose not to raise foals fathered by stallions outside the home herd. If the dominant home male is not the father, he may subsequently attempt infanticide. Two things happen as a result. Either mares manipulate the males' paternity assessment by promiscuous mating with home males. Alternatively, if the mares are physically unable to have sexual activity with home males, i.e. they are in separate enclosures, they are seven times more likely to abort the fetus, to prevent the waste of energy in producing offspring likely to be lost.

The authors conclude: "The phenomenon shown in this study may explain the high incidence of domestic horse fetal loss. The regular practice of transporting the mare for mating or artificial insemination with a foreign stallion, and then bringing her back to an environment with home males, is probably one of the main causes of such high percentages of pregnancy disruption in domestic horses."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Luděk Bartoš, Jitka Bartošovα, Jan Pluhαček, Jana Šindelαřovα. Promiscuous behaviour disrupts pregnancy block in domestic horse mares. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-011-1166-6

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Horse blind date could lead to loss of foal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329100123.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2011, June 20). Horse blind date could lead to loss of foal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329100123.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Horse blind date could lead to loss of foal." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329100123.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) — The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) — Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins