horse breeding information at equine-reproduction.ie

Repetitive CEMO Shedding Situation in Ireland Declared "Resolved"

The OIE have issued a follow-up report indicating that the stallion who last year tested positive and then negative (after treatment) for presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, the causative agent of contagious equine metritis (CEM), has undergone antibiotic therapy and lavage and has now repeatedly tested negative for presence of the pathogen. In June and July, five samples submitted to the Veterinary Research Laboratory (National laboratory) tested negative for the CEMO via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and a sample in June tested at the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (National laboratory) via pathogen isolation on cell culture also tested negative. As a consequence, the OIE have declared: "The non-thoroughbred stallion has been culture negative since June and has had several negative PCR tests. This outbreak is deemed to be resolved".


Irish CEM Situation Still Ongoing

The OIE have published the following report concerning the Irish stallion that tested positive for the CEM organism last year, then cultured clean, and yet tested positive again this breeding season. It appears that some form of persistent or latent condition is present, or there is an issue with clearance methods in some way.

"The non-thoroughbred stallion still remains positive and officially restricted. Veterinary treatment consisted of antibiotic therapy and lavage and the stallion is currently culture negative but PCR positive. All other at risk animals were tested with all animals having negative results."

Noted Equine Reproduction Researcher Dr. Michelle LeBlanc Dies

It is with the deepest regret that we announce the death of noted researcher and veterinarian, Dr. Michelle LeBlanc. Dr. LeBlanc was noted for her interest and research into mare infertility, late pregnancy problems - with a particular interest in placentitis - and embryo transfer. With much of her research being used on a daily basis today by equine reproductive veterinarians world-wide, Dr. LeBlanc performed and published valuable research into the use and effect of oxytocin to assist pregnancy establishment and maintenance in mares with uterine clearance issues.

Dr. LeBlanc was for many years associated with the University of Florida, having been their Director of the Equine Research Program. More recently, Dr. LeBlanc had been working at Rood & Riddle Veterinary Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, who last month renamed their equine reproduction center the "LeBlanc Reproduction Center". Among many honours received by Dr. LeBlanc, she was named 2000 Theriogenologist of the Year and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Equine Veterinary Association in 2011.

Dr. LeBlanc, who died on Saturday of ovarian cancer, which she had been battling for several years, was 58. A fund has been established by the Theriogenology Foundation to honour LeBlanc's legacy. It is the organizers hope that the fund will become large enough to establish an endowment fund in order to honour her in perpetuity. Donations in LeBlanc's memory or honour can be sent to The Theriogenology Foundation, P.O. Box 3007, Montgomery, AL 36109, USA.

Are Clones Fertile? Well Yes They Are!

Clone x Clone = Clone!Clone x Clone = Clone!Cloning history has been made with the birth of a foal in Texas. The as yet un-named filly shown at left was born April 10th and is by a clone of a World Champion Quarter Horse gelding "Go Wild" out of a clone of a 3 time World Champion Quarter Horse mare, "Spring Fling", who had been unable to produce a foal of her own. This is the first recorded instance of a foal being produced by a clone and out of a clone.

Equine-Reproduction.com To Present at CFER

CFERWe are pleased to announce that Equine-Reproduction.com's Jos Mottershead has been again invited to present at the Colloquium For Equine Reproduction being hosted by the British Society for Animal Science and being held at Nottingham University on 17th April.

The Colloquium is in its fourth season and combines an ability to present new scientific information to veterinarians, students and the public with an opportunity for veterinarians, researchers and breeders to meet and discuss ongoing issues and needs related to the subject. More details are available by following the linked image to the left.

Plaintiff in Failed Australian AI Case to Seek Leave to Appeal

Lawyers for Australian Thoroughbred AI litigant, Bruce McHugh, have made application to lodge an appeal against the judgment. McHugh's lawsuit, an attempt to require the Australian Jockey Club to permit the use of artificial insemination (AI) in the breed failed just before Christmas. The request will be made before three Federal Court Judges and the decision should be handed down in short order.

Horse breeders worldwide will be interested to see if the Court will allow a review of the case, thereby possibly reopening the doors to end what many - both within and outside the Thoroughbred industry - perceive as an archaic restriction. Others will however consider this as a prospective new threat to the traditions of the industry.

CEM Reappears in County Galway, Ireland

A stallion that had previously tested positive for the bacteria Taylorella equigenitalis, but had supposedly been successfully treated and cleared, has once again tested positive for the pathogen which is the causative agent of the notifiable sexually transmitted disease Contagious Equine Metritis. The report made to the OIE by Dr. Martin Blake, Chief Veterinary Officer for the Irish Department of Agriculture observes:

"The stallion in question is a non-thoroughbred. He was imported in 2009. He had negative CEM results in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He was positive for CEM in April 2012 but cultured negative on three occasions post treatment. He was tested in February 2013 pre the mating season and was positive on PCR. All horses on the premises are non-thoroughbreds and there is no indication that the disease has spread to other equines. Antibiotic extended semen has been used to inseminate all mares. We have a vast wealth of evidence from last year to show the effectiveness of the extender - circa. 80 mares were covered and no spread occurred. No mares have been inseminated in 2013".

RCVS Changes Format of Committees to Include Lay Persons

Following approval of a Legislative Reform Order (LRO) to the Veterinary Surgeon's Act, the UK's Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) will adjust its Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees to allow a limited number of lay people (non-Veterinarians) to become committee members.

Under the new legislation, the two statutory committees will move through a transition period until they completely comprise independently-appointed non-Council members, by July 2015.

The announcement, made at the end of January, indicates the following phases:
  • Three lay members and two veterinary surgeons to serve on the Preliminary Investigation Committee from 1 July 2013;
  • Four lay members and four veterinary surgeons to serve on the Disciplinary Committee from 1 July 2013;
  • Two veterinary surgeons to serve on the Preliminary Investigation Committee from 1 July 2014;
  • Three lay members and three veterinary surgeons to serve on the Disciplinary Committee from 1 July 2014.
RCVS President Jacqui Molyneux observed: "It's exciting that we can now seek to appoint non-Council members to the two committees involved in our disciplinary system - a breakthrough that has taken a long time to achieve. We are interested to hear from veterinary surgeons and lay people who are keen to contribute to the public good and support us in our regulatory role. It's an excellent opportunity to be part of the next chapter of the RCVS, as we become a more modern and effective regulator."

This move will provide regulation in line with modern practice, by ensuring that the same group of people is not responsible for setting the rules, investigating complaints and adjudication, and by bringing lay people formally into the Preliminary Investigation Committee.

The recruitment process is being handled by Thewlis Graham Associates and details can be found on their website.

The selection committee will comprise Sir Michael Buckley, Christopher Laurence MBE QVRM TD BVSc MRCVS and Dr Joan Martin MA FCOT. The closing deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday, 4 March 2013.
16/2/2013 - with thanks to the RCVS for information supplied.

Mare Tests Positive for CEMO in California

The OIE (Office International des Epizooties - the World Organisation for Animal Health) today reported that a 17 year-old Lusitano mare located in the Fresno region of California (USA) has tested positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis organism (CEMO) Taylorella equigenitalis. It is reported that the bacterium was identified in a pre-breeding evaluation and that there has been limited breeding exposure not known at this time to have involved any horses outside California. The mare has been placed in quarantine and treatment commenced.

This latest case has not been linked to previous outbreaks at this time, but will certainly represent a concern to US horse breeders who had been hoping to see a possible reduction in restrictions placed on shipping semen to Canada following the outbreak in 2009.

Australian Court Hands Down Thoroughbred AI Decision

Almost a year to the day after final arguments were presented, Mr. Justice Robertson has handed down his long-awaited decision.

In a case that has been before the Australian courts for several years, lawyers for Bruce McHugh - a Thoroughbred breeder and past chairman of the Sydney Turf Club - argued that the Australian Jockey Club's refusal to register Thoroughbred foals produced through artificial insemination represented a restraint of trade and a breach of the Trade Practices Act. Supporters of the Jockey Club's stance argued that the ban kept Australian Thoroughbred breeding on a par with International Thoroughbred standards. The hearings took place in September and October of 2011 and involved over 40 witnesses. Final arguments were presented in December of that year, and the Judge withheld his decision until today...

Mr. Justice Robertson's judgment presented today found in favour of the defendants, The Australian Jockey Club Ltd., et al, indicating that a refusal to register foals produced as a result of AI was not a restriction of trade. The decision will come as a relief to the defendants as well as to some Australian Thoroughbred breeders, who saw the action as a threat to International recognition and Registry reciprocity of the Thoroughbred produced in Australia.

While McHugh's case focussed on a restraint of trade argument, it is surprising that the vocal Australian animal rights movements - which has succeeded in causing a ban on racing over fences in most Australian States and of Steeplechasing in the State of Victoria - have not questioned the welfare of stallions that are obliged to breed as many as 250-300 mares a year by live cover, and this in some cases in less than a six-month period. Some of those stallions breed that many mares or more when placed in a "shuttle" situation, moving from the Northern hemisphere's February to June breeding season to a repetition in the Southern hemisphere's August to December season. The stress placed on some of these stallions can be considered to be significant, and if the Thoroughbred industry does not police itself in the matter, it should be a concern for all - inside and outside the Thoroughbred industry - that at some point it will be policed for them by others. AI would have seemed a simple solution, with the ability to breed multiple mares from a single ejaculate, as well as the use of cooled or frozen semen which can be shipped within the country or Internationally.

So for the moment, the Status Quo remains, but for how much longer, one has to wonder...

FEI Changes Position on Clones in Competition

At it's Spring Meeting held in Lausanne, Switzerland, on the 8-9 June, the FEI reversed it's previous decision to not allow clones in competition. The following statement was issued: "The FEI will not forbid participation of clones or their progenies in FEI competitions. The FEI will continue to monitor further research, especially with regard to equine welfare."

As a variety of past competition horses have already been cloned, we applaud the decision, and look forward to some interesting competitions in the future involving clones!

There has as yet been no further decision made by the AQHA or the courts on the issue of the AQHA registering cloned Quarter Horses.

Clones, AI and Lawsuits

At almost the same time as the FEI was presenting their position objecting to the use of cloned horses in competition, the AQHA was receiving notification of a court action opposing that organization's refusal to register cloned Quarter Horses.

The case has been brought against AQHA by Texas breeder Jason Abraham and his companies "Abraham and Veneklasen Joint Venture" and "Abraham Equine Inc.". The argument they are presenting is that by refusing to register cloned Quarter Horses - despite the DNA clearly demonstrating that they are indeed genetically Quarter Horses - the AQHA is violating the Sherman Antitrust Act as well as the Texas Business and Commerce Code. Since 2008, the AQHA have formed committees to consider rule changes to allow cloning, as well as the stud book committee itself considering those changes. The Association has consistently denied any rule change that would permit the registration of cloned Quarter Horses. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the case means to the FEI, as reining - which predominantly involves Quarter Horses - is now included as an FEI sport.

It has always been the position of Equine-Reproduction.com LLC that breeds and registries should register cloned animals by issuing the same registration number as the donor animal, plus a suffix (e.g. 123456a would be the first clone of animal 123456; 123456b the second and so on). The cloned animals would also be required to be microchipped, and any record-related work (e.g. competition or breeding) be confirmed as to which animal was involved at the time of the action by reading the microchip.

Regardless of the "ethical" arguments - and those opposing cloning often tend to be somewhat ethereal and not scientifically-based - a failure to register clones by a breed or registry is potentially encouraging fraud on the part of it's membership - and that is always a bad policy for a breed organisation! This problem in particular surrounds the cloned stallion, as a foal produced from semen from a cloned stallion will carry the exact same DNA as if the foal was produced from semen from the original (the donor) stallion. The potential for abuse if a stallion dies or goes sterile is obvious.

On another lawsuit front involving assisted reproductive technology, the decision in McHugh v. Australian Jockey Club Ltd. should be imminent, the closing arguments having been made in December last year. This case involves the Thoroughbred industry's insistence that no A.I. be permitted to produce a Thoroughbred horse. The arguments opposing the use of AI are typically specious and the welfare of a Thoroughbred stallion that is required to service as many as 300 mares by live cover each year has to be questioned. The international implications of a finding in favour of McHugh in this case are significant.

Stay tuned as we will report the progress and decisions on both cases as we hear them!

CEM Outbreaks in England and Ireland

There are currently two ongoing outbreaks of CEM (Contagious Equine Metritis) within the UK and Ireland. The first - initially identified on 03/28/2012 - involves a mare in Berkley and a stallion in North Nibley (both Gloucestershire). The animals are undergoing treatment and tracebacks are being sought. The second outbreak (identified 04/26/2012) is in Doughiska, Galway, Ireland, where 2 stallions have so far tested positive for CEMO and multiple mares that have been bred to them are being checked.

For more information about CEM, please review this article on our main site.

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Equine reproduction topics covered in our articles section on this and our main site include artificial insemination (A.I.); information about, and the use of frozen semen; stallion handling articles, including "phantom mare" training, and other semen collection methods; the collecting and processing of cooled transported semen; different equipment and supplies needed for semen collection and processing, and artificial insemination; managing the mare for breeding (including hormonal manipulation and the use of other drugs such as Oxytocin); and some articles relative to foals and foaling.

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