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With declining foal crops, both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries face an immediate challenge to minimise wastage and have production and management processes that maximise the number of horses that are able to successfully race. Data from overseas has indicated that limb deformities in foals are a major reason for loss. In some cases foals with angular limb deformities prior to weanling were found to be 5 – 7 times more likely to have unacceptable conformation, making yearlings not presentable for sale. However, it is not only the significance (i.e. incidence and morbidity) of the disease that requires quantification but the value of the interventions used, which range from conservative to surgical.
The current study aims to survey commercial breeding farms in New Zealand to obtain data on the level of angular limb deformities observed at discrete developmental time points. The study will provide data on the prevalence of angular limb deformities on commercial breeding farms and will also provide data on the changes (improvement) in limb deformities that occur from birth through to yearling age.
Stud masters were invited to take part in the project and meetings took place with those that agreed to be involved. Data have been collected on just over 200 foals born across five stud farms, and are currently being analysed.
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Last updated on Tuesday 16 August 2016