Studbook takes ‘moral stance’ as registration of foals bred through sure reproductive methods to be banned

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  • A European studbook has introduced plans to ban the registration of foals born through sure fashionable breeding methods, primarily based on welfare grounds.

    The Swedish Warmblood Affiliation (SWB) introduced that offspring produced by intra cytoplasmic injection (ICSI) and ovum pick-up (OPU) will not be registered with the affiliation’s studbook from 1 March 2025.



    OPU entails assortment of oocytes from a mare’s ovarian follicles, carried out beneath sedation. ICSI is the lab-based course of whereby a single sperm is injected into the matured oocyte, which is incubated to encourage an embryo to develop, then transferred right into a recipient mare. OPU is carried out in international locations all over the world together with the UK, however is prohibited in Sweden.

    Per Jansson, chairman of the SWB board, instructed H&H the choice was the end result of a “full evaluation and analysis” of the studbook enterprise – and that the affiliation has reviewed its equine welfare regulatory framework yearly since 2020.

    “In keeping with the Swedish animal welfare act, operative intervention with out medical cause, for instance OPU, will not be allowed, which in observe implies that Swedish mares have to journey to different international locations the place OPU is allowed,” he mentioned, including that foals born through embryo switch can nonetheless register with the studbook as this process “requires no operative intervention and isn’t painful for the mares concerned”.

    Mr Jansson mentioned SWB has no “technical” manner to make sure breeders are complying with the rule, however the affiliation would require written affirmation when a foal is registered.

    “Horse welfare all the time weighs extra closely for SWA than purely industrial pursuits. We wish to emphasise how vital we take into account the moral stance is within the breeding trade and we wish to assist the Swedish values and laws concerning animal welfare,” he mentioned.

    World Breeding Federation (WBF) vice chairman Eva-Maria Broomer instructed H&H it’s “not unusual” for a studbook to set a precedent; for instance some studbooks don’t enable cloned horses.

    “With these types of issues it turns into tough when one studbook comes to a decision and others haven’t adopted swimsuit, as a result of folks will simply do it anyway and register elsewhere,” she mentioned.

    Dr Broomer mentioned ICSI “raises a variety of questions and challenges”, and that the WBF is “monitoring the state of affairs fastidiously” and gathering knowledge.

    “These methods can be utilized as a drive for good, for instance in turning into an vital software in permitting us to protect and strengthen vital breeding traces, however they will also be misused and abused. To forestall this we’d like full traceability and transparency,” she mentioned.

    “That is additionally vital for consumers who ought to know if they’re buying an ICSI foal or horse. Points that aren’t but absolutely understood embody if there are long-term impacts on equine well being or any discernible well being variations between ICSI foals and people who had been produced the traditional manner.”

    Dr Broomer added that the significance of genetic range must also be thought-about.

    “Right here, once more, ICSI generally is a drive for good by allowing us to make use of horses for breeding that might not have been in a position to produce offspring within the standard manner,” she mentioned.

    “However, it may turn out to be a limiting issue if it results in using fewer mare-lines by permitting extra foals to be produced from a smaller variety of traces.”

    Equine-assisted reproductive methods (ART) have come beneath growing dialogue, and had been the main target of a debate on the British Equine Veterinary Affiliation congress in September the place trade consultants mentioned “How far is just too far?” (information, 24 October 2023).

    It was agreed throughout the board that ache management throughout ART procedures must be a serious focus – and that the breeding trade must concentrate on the shortage of analysis round ART together with whether or not ache is assessed nicely sufficient, and whether or not fertility clinics needs to be licensed.

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