Scientists Jumping over Obstacles for Horse Breeding
29 May 2017
In a world first, scientists from the University of Newcastle have developed a method which will allow horse sperm to survive longer, which, in turn will open the gate for more chances of success in overseas breeding programs.
This method will allow the sperm to survive for up to two weeks, instead of three days as it currently stands. This is because new nutrient-rich liquid will allow the sperm to survive at an ambient temperature, instead of the traditional chilling method which can damage the cells.
Unlike Thoroughbred breeding which does not allow the use of artificial insemination, Post-doctoral researcher Dr. Zamira Gibb believes this breakthrough will benefit other horse breeders, such as those with Standardbreds.
“The opportunity to increase success of reproductive outcomes in the Standardbred industry with this new development in artificial insemination technology can revolutionise the way we transport sperm around the world. By potentially being able to transport without needing to cryopreserve the cells we will hopefully see an improvement in overseas fertility rates” Dr. Gibb said.
Harness Racing Australia (HRA) has been a sponsor of this research, the main goal being improving the fertility of transported semen and also developing a semen extender devoid of any animal protein to avoid any biosecurity concerns for this new way of transportation.
With Standardbred’s being the bread and butter of Australian harness racing, HRA Chief Executive, Andrew Kelly said the project has their full support and believes it will be a great asset to their industry.
“The Standardbred racehorse industry fully embraces the use of artificial insemination and we specifically chose to invest in this project as we believe it will benefit the industry immensely. There is the potential of opening up access to a more diverse range of bloodlines that breeders had previously been unable to use previously, however, our great hope is that this research can lead to much greater efficiencies in breeding locally, with greater fertility and conception rates than we have currently.” Mr. Kelly said.
Whilst the overall method of transport is still being developed to minimize any potential biohazard risks that may present themselves, these rapid advancements in technology will lower the risk of damage to the sample when transported overseas and allow room for more success in local and international breeding programs.
This breakthrough research has left the industry with high hopes for the future of Standardbred breeding and overall fertility treatment improvement for the programs and transportation.