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Open Access Research

A preliminary study on the induction of dioestrous ovulation in the mare – a possible method for inducing prolonged luteal phase

Ylva Hedberg*, Anne-Marie Dalin, Malin Santesson and Hans Kindahl

Author Affiliations

Division of Comparative Reproduction, Obstetrics and Udder Health, Department of Clinical Sciences, P.O. Box 7054, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2006, 48:12  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-12

Published: 26 July 2006

Abstract

Background

Strong oestrous symptoms in the mare can cause problems with racing, training and handling. Since long-acting progesterone treatment is not permitted in mares at competition (e.g. according to FEI rules), there is a need for methods to suppress unwanted cyclicity. Spontaneous dioestrous ovulations in the late luteal phase may cause a prolongation of the luteal phase in mares.

Methods

In this preliminary study, in an attempt to induce ovulation during the luteal phase, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (3000 IU) was injected intramuscularly in four mares (experimental group) in the luteal phase when a dioestrous follicle ≥ 30 mm was detected. A fifth mare included in this group was not treated due to no detectable dioestrous follicles ≥ 30 mm. Four control mares were similarly injected with saline. The mares were followed with ultrasound for 72 hours post injection or until ovulation. Blood samples for progesterone analysis were obtained twice weekly for one month and thereafter once weekly for another two to four months.

Results

Three of the hCG-treated mares ovulated within 72 hours after treatment and developed prolonged luteal phases of 58, 68 and 82 days respectively. One treated mare never ovulated after the hCG injection and progesterone levels fell below 3 nmol/l nine days post treatment. Progesterone levels in the control mares were below 3 nmol/l within nine days after saline injection, except for one mare, which developed a spontaneously prolonged luteal phase of 72 days.

Conclusion

HCG treatment may be a method to induce prolonged luteal phases in the mare provided there is a dioestrous follicle ≥ 30 mm that ovulates post-treatment. However, the method needs to be tested on a larger number of mares to be able to draw conclusions regarding its effectiveness.