Lynn Haydon-Williams - currently 3rd year BSc hons equine science at Myerscough college Preston England. Why will the thoroughbred industry not accept A I as the way forward? Why we must lack behind countries like Holland?
Actually the ( industry ) has accepted the procedure in large part for a number of years now. It's the registry it's self that has not officially accepted it.
I personally know of a member of the Jockey Club board of directors who owns a large breeding farm that has not live covered a mare for over twenty years now. One must remember that this is an honor system and there is no such thing as the Jockey Club police. It happens with increasing regularity on farms all over the US, including KY. It simply is not made public. I suspect that perhaps in our life time we will see a change in the antiquated thinking of those old hard liners on the board and it will be publicly accepted.
However having said that, I am always reminded of a statement made by Fedarico Tessio, arguably the most successful TB breeder in history. "Hybrid vigor can only be passed on by means of the act of copulation". How he arrived at this statement or what he basses it on is beyond me, but when dealing with something as elusive as athletic desire. I find it hard to discount the statements of someone who has demonstrated a level of success such as his. Yes AI was available and a very well known option in his time.
I will not argue that AI posses a whole host of advantages in terms of reproductive success, but in the case of producing a superior athletic desire. In TB race horses the goal is much more than just reproducing an animal. It is to reproduce an animal with that trait that cannot be seen or quantified in any way, that is the desire to perform at a level that exceeds average physical ability or conformational deficiencies. Does AI fully achieve THAT goal?
Once the die is cast so to speak, and the embryo is established. The only thing that we as horsemen can do to affect the result of the breeding selection. Is to do our best to remove as many obstacles as we can, throughout the animals developmental stages that may prevent the animal from achieving it's full genetic potential. So the breeding selection and and the actual act are the only windows of opportunity for us to attempt to have a definitive roll in the transmission of hybrid vigor.
Many theriogenologists will agree that there are some very subtile and complex things that occur during the act of copulation that we still do not fully understand and have not at this point been able to pin down in scientific terms.
Is AI the answer for TB race horses? I wonder, all my training and common sense says yes but I fear that I will always have that nagging doubt at least in terms of hybrid vigor.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2001 - 12:07 am:
The prime driving force behind the non-acceptance of AI by the TB breed is (in my opinion) financial and associated with preserving prices at the yearling and 2 year-old sales by preventing an excess number of foals being produced in a given year by a particular stallion. But even this concept (again in my opinion!) is a relic of the dark ages. In days gone by before the advent of widespread ultrasound use; better palpation techniques; and hormonal manipulation of ovulation; it was generally accepted that a stallion could cover only 40 mares successfully per season. This relied on the theory that each mare would be covered an average of 3 times - or a total of 120 - 150 (allowing for return mares) covers per season per stallion. Now, with the use of the above techniques, it is realistic to believe that a single cover per mare will result in the same pregnancy rates - which of course means that the stallion can now cover 120 - 150 mares a year!
There is further discussion on this topic in the article on this site available for viewing here.
I believe Tessio's concept of hybrid vigour is easily explained..... (hybrid vigour is the outcrossing away from the existing lineage, which can result in a presentation of stronger characterics in the offspring) I believe that you will find that the statement was made before the discovery of DNA and all it stands for. You may want to consider that in the 1700's, it was thought that human sperm actually carried the physical features of the person it was to become - i.e. you could see the face of the person on the sperm!!!! DNA is DNA, whether it is present in sperm deposited by AI or by live cover - please don't perpetuate the archaic notions!!!! J~~~
Jos with all due respect. I'm at an age when the term archaic seems to hit close to home. So archaic ideas tend to surface with more frequency than they use to in this old mind. ;-) While I agree that your representation of breeding principles at that time are accurate. I believe that Tessio's concern was not based on this, but rather on a more abstract notion that the actual act of copulation has some bearing on subtile hormonal changes that affected the quality of the result of the coupeling. (i.e.) not just one of the strongest sperm but THE strongest sperm resulted in the conception.
As to the reasoning behind official non acceptance of the breeding technique. I agree with your statement, with this qualification. It only actually applies to the most elite segment of the TB industry. The vast majority of TB breeders are not motivated by the idea of improving the breed or maintaining the high ideals of those in past generations. Their goals instead are to get as many mares in foal as possible and collect those stud fees. Race them as two year olds and roll them over as quickly as possible. It all boils down to money. If the race horse owner cannot expect a return on investment at least equivalent to that of utility stocks. Then their interest in racing rapidly diminishes. The idea of breeding race horses that are the result of a long term plan and purely for the sport. Is for the most part an archaic notion that died with the likes of the Agah Khan, the Melon family and the rest of the generation of the idle rich. There has been some resurgence of late with the royal family from the United Arab Emerates (sp).
I do think that the official view will change on this issue and perhaps sooner than later. For the very same reasons that your article on this forum states. It will only happen when pressure from a large enough segment of the industry can demonstrate that it will not result in reducing the market value of the end product and when some of the old line thinkers on the board move on and make room for younger and better educated members.
In the mean time in the real world of TB breeding the fact is that it does go on every day on breeding farms large and small, famous and not so famous. All they do is make sure that when the report of mares bred is filled. The last breeding dates are accurate and the remaining ones are juggled to make it look as though they are breeding live cover. If confronted by the Jockey Club for suspect or reported infractions, which happens all the time. The farm simply replies that they will comply, with no admission of guilt. Then continue as though nothing has changed. When the Jockey Club gets a report from a disgruntled former employee or someone who may have witnessed the act. They are compelled to act. That action takes the form of one of two things. A letter or phone call to the breeder in question, stating that only foals conceived by live cover will be registered by The Jockey Club. Case closed end of story. They do not investigate or make accusation, they simply make that statement. As I said before it's an honor system, and there is no enforcement in place. When it comes to big dollars, honor becomes nothing more than a word with little meaning.
Archaic old HP ;-)
lookin for info
Posted on Monday, February 19, 2001 - 12:26 pm:
I am doing a science fair project on artificial insemination vs. natural breeding. I need some information on statistics for using both. If anyone has any info or web sites that might be helpful please write back. Thanks
I am a student who has an assignment to write about breeding thoroughbreds and artificial insemination, i have to discuss the pros and cons of artificial insemination and would very much like to hear peoples views on it. If anyone has any information wwhich they think i would find useful please e - mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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