Diet Might Improve Older Mare Fertility

A fatty-acid- and antioxidant-rich supplement approach allowed oocytes to mature and metabolize energy more efficiently.
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Omega-Rich Diet Might Improve Older Mare Fertility
Colorado State University researchers recently confirmed that nutrition plays a key role in improving oocyte quality, which can be a boon to overcoming fertility problems in older mares. | Photo: iStock

Senior mares can be notoriously difficult to get and keep in foal. Yet simply recovering oocytes and embryos and transplanting them into young surrogates to carry to term has not been the panacea that equine reproductive specialists had once hoped. However, Colorado State University (CSU) researchers recently confirmed that nutrition plays a key role in improving oocyte quality, which can be a boon to overcoming fertility problems in older mares.

Indeed, a young uterus does not overcome all the problems with eggs collected from older mares, said Giovana D. Catandi, DVM, a PhD student and research assistant at CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, during the opening remarks of her presentation at the 65th American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, which is currently underway in Denver.

Catandi reported that research she and colleagues in CSU’s Equine Reproduction Lab conducted in 20 mares ages 13-23 suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants allows oocytes to mature and metabolize energy more efficiently. Further, oocytes from older mares receiving these supplements were also more likely, when fertilized, to develop into normal blastocysts (an early stage of the developing embryo) that could result in viable pregnancies

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Betsy Lynch has been an equine industry professional for 30-plus years as an editor, writer, photographer, and publishing consultant. Her work appears in breed, performance, and scientific journals. Betsy owns her own business, Third Generation Communications. She is a graduate of Colorado State University, continues to keep horses, and lives near Fort Collins, Colorado.

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