New Nonsurgical Equine Sterilization Technique in the Works

While the actual product might still be several years away, researchers are currently testing “promising technologies.”
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New Nonsurgical Equine Sterilization Technique in the Works
With so few natural predators, feral horse populations—such as the Brumbies in Australia—are growing rapidly.| iStock
With so few natural predators, feral horse populations—such as the Brumbies in Australia—are growing rapidly. But current immunocontraceptive (drug-induced sterilization) techniques, used to control herd growth, must be readministered every one to three years, which can be a difficult task when managing hundreds or thousands of horses. So, researchers in Australia are studying new ways to help control feral horse populations in that country.

The research team is hot on the trail to developing a novel, practical, and cost-effective sterilization product for free-ranging horses that’s also welfare-friendly. What they’re after: a “one-shot” administration that sterilizes both mares and stallions—for life.

“It is very important that we develop a method that offers an effective solution to the feral horse problem, while ensuring humane practices and public approval is achieved,” said Sally Hall, a PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science, in New South Wales, Australia, and Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre scholarship recipient.

Under the supervision of John Aitken, PhD, and Brett Nixon, PhD, Hall has been working to develop this “one-shot” sterilization method over the past four years. While the actual product might still be several years away, the research team is already testing “promising technologies” in a laboratory setting

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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