Equine Fetal Sex Determination

Knowledge of a fetus’ sex enables the horse owner or breeder to manage several  different aspects of his or her horse business better. For example, the value of a foal frequently is influenced by its gender, depending on its sire or dam.

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Knowledge of a fetus’ sex enables the horse owner or breeder to manage several  different aspects of his or her horse business better. For example, the value of a foal frequently is influenced by its gender, depending on its sire or dam. Therefore, we can be more accurate in assessing the value of a pregnant mare by knowing the sex of her fetus. Appraisals, selling decisions, reserves at auction, insurance coverage, mating lists, prepurchase limits, collateral limits, and foaling locations all are influenced by this information.






PHOTO BY MATT GOINS


Most clients are having fetal sex determinations made to decide whether to keep or sell a mare. At times the decision revolves around an old mare which has had several stakes winners. If she is going to have a filly, the owner will keep her. If she is going to have a colt, the owner will sell her. An owner might sell a weanling out of a particular mare if he or she knows the sex of the foal the mare will have the following year. Sometimes an owner will race all foals of one sex and sell all of the foals of the other sex.


Sex determinations also can help owners estimate cash flow for the following year. Will the next year provide income from sales of offspring or will there be expenses from horses racing? Mating lists for the coming year, in some cases, can be dependent on the sex of the foal in utero. Perhaps an owner wants a filly by a particular sire. If the mare is carrying a filly, he or she can book the mare to another sire. If the mare is carrying a colt, the mare can be booked back to the same stallion. If an owner wants a Canadian-bred filly or a New York-bred colt, location of foaling can be predetermined

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Written by:

Richard D. Holder, DVM, graduated from the University of Texas in 1969 and Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in 1972. He has been an equine practitioner at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee Associates, PSC, in Lexington, Ky., since 1974 with emphasis on reproduction, and he currently holds the office of treasurer for the firm. In the past several years, he has been instrumental in developing the technique for equine ultrasonic fetal sex determination and has given numerous presentations on this subject. Holder is the resident owner of Offutt-Cole Farm in Midway, Ky.

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