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Vet Q. 2001 Apr;23(2):92-5.

Haematological and blood biochemical characteristics of Dutch warmblood foals managed under three different rearing conditions from birth to 5 months of age.

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Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Reference values for haematological and blood biochemical variables may vary per breed and are influenced by age and, to a certain extent, by rearing conditions. To investigate the influence of age and rearing conditions, these variables were measured in Dutch Warmblood foals from birth to 5 months of age. The foals were divided into three groups with different exercise regimens: 14 foals got boxrest with no exercise; 14 foals were kept in comparable boxes, but received daily exercise; and 15 foals were maintained on pasture with free exercise. Blood samples were collected each month and 36 haematological and biochemical variables were measured. The influence of age and rearing conditions was statistically evaluated. Significant age effects were found for all variables with the exception of band-shaped leucocytes, eosinophilic leucocytes, basophilic leucocytes, monocytes, platelets, pCO2, and sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, creatinine and creatine phosphokinase levels. Rearing conditions appeared to influence the haemoglobin, packed cell volume, pH, base excess, bicarbonate, chloride, urea, and alkaline phosphatase values. Most age-related differences can be explained by growth and differentiation-related processes that are specific for young animals. Differences due to the different rearing conditions can partly be explained by the higher metabolism and greater maturation of tissues in foals maintained on pasture with free exercise. Some other differences were minor and were probably of no clinical relevance. The conclusion is that haematological and blood biochemical variables in the Dutch Warmblood foal mainly depend on age, thus warranting the use of specific age-related reference values for foals of this breed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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