Infertility in mares caused by ovarian dysfunction

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 5
  • Abstract:

    (1) The ovaries of 24 mares were examined rectally during a total of 52 oestrous periods in the 1949-51 breeding seasons. Only 27 of the 52 periods ended in ovulation. In 24 of the 27 normal periods the mares were mated and conception resulted in 20 (83•3 per cent). (2) Follicles developed but then regressed without ovulating in 23 (44•2 per cent). Ten mares mated during anovulatory periods all failed to conceive. (3) It is suggested that many cases of pseudo-ovarian cysts in the mare are not real cysts but follicles which persist for a time and then regress, or ovulate when conditions become favourable. (4) Two cases in which oestrus was shown continuously for 119 and 171 days respectively are recorded. In the latter the prolonged period of heat terminated in ovulation and conception. (5) Another two cases were noted in which oestrus occurred without follicle development. Attention is drawn to the possibility of extra ovarian sources of oestrogen, and of neural control over the sexual cycle. (6) Marked fo1licular development without symptoms of oestrus was observed in three cases. (7) No significant difference in the relative activity of the right and left ovaries was shown. (8) In the great majority of cases ovulation, when present, occurred within the last 24-48 hours of oestrus, but in two mares heat persisted for four and five days respectively after ovulation. This is attributed to the presence of other follicles. (9) Pregnancy resulted when mares were served up to 72 hours before ovulation. One mare which was mated only once, at 8-12 hours after ovulation, did not conceive. Palpation of the ovaries per rectum is considered the only satisfactory method of determining the most suitable time for service. (10) Two cases of oestrus with ovulation during pregnancy were noted. At post mortem one mare with a ten week old foetus had two corpora lutea, the one regressing and the other coming up to take over its function. Two other mares, that had aborted during the second month of pregnancy, each only had the primary corpus luteum of pregnancy. Failure of the ovaries in these two cases to form fresh corpora lutea in order to maintain the necessary level of progesterone is suspected to be the cause of the abortions. (11) Treatment with stilboestrol dipropionate and chorionic gonadotrophin was applied to 17 mares which showed irregularities in the sexual cycle. This was followed by ovulation in ten, and nine of these conceived. Hormone treatment should only be applied after proper rectal examination of the ovaries, in certain selected cases, and dosage and time of administration should be carefully calculated. (12) Late in the second half of the 1950-51 season 24 mares, all of which but three were shy breeders or barren, were turned out to run free with two stallions in two camps. Within two months 21 (87•5 per cent) had conceived. This high conception rate is attributed to psychological factors.