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Anim Reprod Sci. 2006 Sep;95(1-2):75-96. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

Genetic study of gestation length in Andalusian and Arabian mares.

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  • 1Departamento di Ciencias Agroforestales, Escuela Universitaria de Ingeniería Técnica Agrícola, Universidad de Sevilla, Ctra. De Utrera, km. 1, 41013 Sevilla, Spain.


The length of gestation in Andalusian, or Spanish Purebred (SPB) and Arabian (AB) mares reared in Spain was analysed, based on 766 spontaneous full-term deliveries appertaining to 141 mares of SPB breed and 72 mares of AB breed in 31 breeding seasons. The data were obtained from the Yeguada Militar de Jerez de la Frontera stud farm in Cádiz, Spain. The mean length of gestation was of 336.8+/-0.48 days in the SPB mares and 340.3+/-0.63 days in AB mares. To assess the accurate prediction of time of birth the potential effect of a number of factors was investigated. The influences of the breed, mare, month and year of mating, age of the mother, number of births and sex of the foal were statistically significant. The factor have the greatest influence over the gestation length was the mare itself, with a correlation among consecutive births of around 0.4. The effect of inbreeding, both of the mare and foal, was negligible. Gestation length shortened as the breeding season progressed: in both breeds, a delay of 1 month in mating corresponded to a decrease of 3 days in the gestation length. According to our results, gestation length decrease as the mare gets older, with the shortest gestation periods when the mare is 10-12 years old, and from this point on, it slowly increases. The gestation period shortens as the 4th or 5th birth approaches, and then gets progressively longer. The range of variation in gestation length due to the number of births to the mare is of 2.9 days for the AB mares, and 2.2 days for SPB mares. The heritability for the gestation length for AB and the SPB breeds was 0.2, with a repeatability of 0.36 and 0.37, for SPB and AB breeds, respectively. With the data from both breeds, and using a classical approach, the response to selection was estimated if mares with extreme gestation lengths were culled, i.e. lengths which are under 310 days, or over 360 days. According to our results, in the case of SPB, a decrease of 14-45% would occur in the number of extreme gestation lengths, while in the AB breed, this value would decrease from 2 to 39%.

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