Evaluation of early fetal losses on four equine farms in central Kentucky: 73 cases (2001)

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2002 Jun 15;220(12):1828-30. doi: 10.2460/javma.2002.220.1828.


Objective: To determine features of an early fetal loss (EFL) syndrome and evaluate potential risk factors for EFL in Thoroughbred broodmares on 4 farms in central Kentucky.

Design: Retrospective study.

Animals: 288 pregnant broodmares.

Procedure: Year-2001 breeding records for 288 Thoroughbred broodmares were examined. Early fetal loss was defined as loss of a fetus that was viable at > or = 40 days of gestation but was subsequently lost by 5 months of gestation.

Results: Overall 2001 EFL rate was 25% (73/288), median gestational age at time of fetal loss was 77 days, and median date of loss was May 7. Mares on 1 farm had significantly fewer fetal losses (5%) than mares on the other 3 farms (26 to 35%). Fetal losses were higher for maiden (42%) and barren (42%) mares than for foaling mares (18%). Fetal losses were greater in young than in older mares. Effects of broodmare farm, mare age, and reproductive status were all significant. Fetal losses were not associated with sire used for mating or stud farm.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Greatest risk for EFL occurred during the period from late April to May (ie, in mares bred during February through March). Higher incidence of EFL in maiden and barren mares and lower incidence of EFL on 1 farm suggest management or environmental influences may have affected outcome. Risk factors that should be investigated include environmental differences among farms and differences in management procedures used for lactating versus nonlactating mares.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology
  • Fetal Death / veterinary*
  • Horses / physiology*
  • Kentucky / epidemiology
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / veterinary*
  • Pregnancy, Animal / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons