Original Research

The effect of dietary protein on reproduction in the mare. VII. Embryonic development, early embryonic death, foetal losses and their relationship with serum progestagen

F.E. Van Niekerk, C.H. Van Niekerk
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 69, No 4 | a844 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v69i4.844 | © 1998 F.E. Van Niekerk, C.H. Van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 July 1998 | Published: 13 July 1998

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F.E. Van Niekerk,
C.H. Van Niekerk,

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Sixty-four Thoroughbred and Anglo-Arab mares aged 6-12 years were randomly allocated to 4 dietary groups and fed diets that differed in the total protein content and quality (essential amino-acids). Forty mares were non-lactating and 24 lactating. Eight mares were withdrawn from the investigation owing to injuries or gynaecological pathology. An overall conception rate of 94.6%and a foaling rate of 80%was achieved. Five of 14 (35.7 %) mares (Group 1) fed a low-quality protein diet suffered from early embryonic loss before 90 days of pregnancy compared to 3 of 41 (7.3 %) mares in the remaining groups that received the higher-quality protein in their diets. Serum progestagen concentrations of mares in Group 1 that suffered foetal loss were indicative of luteal function insufficiency during the 1st 40 days post-ovulation. Non-lactating mares in all 4 groups gained on average approximately 30 kg in mass during the 90 days before the breeding period. Lactating mares in Group 1 (low-quality protein) lost on average 25 kg in mass during lactation, with no weight loss observed among the lactating mares in the other 3 groups. No difference in the diameter of the embryonic vesicle was found between dietary groups until Day 35 of pregnancy.


Equine; Pregnancy Loss; Protein Nutrition; Serum Progestagen


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