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  • Author or Editor: Deborah M. Williams x
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Abstract

Objective—To identify factors associated with abortions of mares during late gestation attributed to mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS).

Design—Case-control study.

Animals—282 broodmares from 62 farms in central Kentucky, including 137 mares that had late-term abortions (LTAs) associated with MRLS, 98 mares from the same farms that did not abort, and 48 mares that aborted from causes other than MRLS.

Procedure—Farm managers were interviewed to obtain data on a wide range of management practices and environmental exposures for the mares. Data for case and control horses were compared to identify risk factors for a mare having a MRLS-associated LTA (MRLS-LTA).

Results—Several factors increased the risk of mares having MRLS-LTAs, including increased amount of time at pasture, less time in a stall, feeding concentrate on the ground, higher proportion of diet derived from grazing pasture, being fed in pasture exclusively during the 4-week period prior to abortion, access to pasture after midnight during the 4-week period prior to abortion, and drinking from a water trough or not having access to water buckets or automatic waterers.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Analysis indicates that exposure to pasture predisposed mares to having MRLS-LTAs and stillborn foals. Methods for limiting exposure to pasture (keeping mares in stalls longer) during environmental conditions similar to those seen in 2001 should reduce the risk of mares having MRLS-LTAs. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:199–209)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To identify factors associated with abortions during early gestation classified as mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS).

Design—Case-control study.

Animals—324 broodmares from 43 farms in central Kentucky, including 121 mares from 25 farms that had early-term abortions (ETAs) associated with MRLS (case horses), 120 mares from the same farms but that did not abort, and 83 mares from 18 farms that were not severely impacted by MRLS.

Procedure—Farm managers were interviewed to obtain data on various management practices and environmental exposures for the mares. Data for case and control horses were compared to identify risk factors for mares having MRLS-associated ETAs.

Results—Several factors increased the risk of MRLS-associated ETAs, including feeding hay in pasture, greater than usual amounts of white clover in pastures, more eastern tent caterpillars in pastures, abortion during a previous pregnancy, and sighting deer or elk on the premises.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Analysis indicates that certain characteristics of pastures predisposed mares to MRLS-associated ETAs. Methods for limiting exposure to pasture (keeping mares in stalls longer) during environmental conditions similar to those of 2001 (ie, sudden freezing in mid-April following warmer-than-usual springtime temperatures and larger-than-usual numbers of eastern tent caterpillars in and around pastures) should reduce the risk of mares having MRLS-associated ETAs. It was not possible to determine whether exposure to white clover or caterpillars were causal factors for MRLS or were merely indicators of unusual environmental conditions that resulted in exposure of mares to a toxic or infectious agent. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:210–217)

Restricted access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association