Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Foaling mares are totally relaxed, stress free, study finds

Date:
June 11, 2014
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
Foaling in horses is extremely fast. Labor and the active part of foaling, resulting in delivery of the foal, take 10 to 20 minutes and are considerably shorter than giving birth in humans or in cows. Is this brief period stressful for the animals, or are horses more relaxed than humans when giving birth? Researchers also took samples of saliva and blood and analyzed the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, and have concluded that "normal foaling appears to cause just the opposite of a stress response."

Foaling appears to cause the opposite of a stress response.
Credit: Vetmeduni Vienna

Foaling in horses is extremely fast. labor and the active part of foaling, resulting in delivery of the foal, take 10 to 20 minutes and are considerably shorter than giving birth in humans or in cows. Is this brief period stressful for the animals or are horses more relaxed than humans when giving birth? This issue has been addressed by Christina Nagel and colleagues, who closely observed 17 foalings at the Brandenburg State Stud in Neustadt (Dosse), Germany, as well as recording electrocardiograms before, during and after foaling. The researchers also took samples of saliva and blood and analysed the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. As Nagel summarizes, "Normal foaling appears to cause just the opposite of a stress response."

Related Articles


Cardiac and circulatory demands remain at a low level

Surprisingly, during labor the heart rate of mares does not increase. On the contrary, the mares even miss some individual heart beats due to delayed stimulus conduction in the heart. In humans, such second-degree atriventricular (AV) blocks often require medical treatment but many healthy horses show AV blocks at rest. On physical activity, e.g. when the horse is ridden, the heart beat becomes regular and the beat frequency increases. The finding of AV blocks during foal­ing suggests that mares are strongly influenced by the parasympathetic nervous system, which usually causes a state of rest and relaxation. Its antagonist, the sympathetic nervous system, would prepare the organism for a stress response but does not seem to be active while the animals are giving birth.

No stress during foaling

The level of stress hormones remains low in foaling mares and the researchers did not find an adrenaline rush at any point. Foaling clearly does not evoke a stress response. The need to care for the newly born foal was also not perceived as stressful: contact between the mare and the foal was associated with a further state of relief and relaxation.

Horses thus experience giving birth very differently from human mothers. They need a safe environment to give birth: all the foals in the study were born at night, when the stable was quiet. As the Head of the Research Group, Christine Aurich, explains, "Parturition in horses requires a state of relaxation in the mare. This is an advantage in wild horses because mares can postpone labor until they perceive the environment as calm and safe. Once this is the case, foaling proceeds within a very short time."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christina Nagel, Regina Erber, Natascha Ille, Mareike von Lewinski, Jörg Aurich, Erich Möstl, Christine Aurich. Parturition in horses is dominated by parasympathetic activity of the autonomous nervous system. Theriogenology, 2014; 82 (1): 160 DOI: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2014.03.015

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Foaling mares are totally relaxed, stress free, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611093242.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2014, June 11). Foaling mares are totally relaxed, stress free, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611093242.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Foaling mares are totally relaxed, stress free, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140611093242.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) — For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) — An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) — The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
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