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Body weight of mares and foals, estrous cycles and plasma glucose concentration in lactating and non-lactating Lipizzaner mares

Body weight of mares and foals, estrous cycles and plasma glucose concentration in lactating and non-lactating Lipizzaner mares

Theriogenology 1 61(5): 883-893

This study summarizes weight development, plasma glucose concentrations and reproductive parameters in lactating (n = 46) and non-lactating Lipizzaner mares (n = 11) throughout the breeding season. It was the aim of the study to analyse if an energy deficit with possible effects on reproductive functions occurs at any time during the first 4 months of gestation. Mean gestation length was 334.3 +/- 7.3 days. Gestation of foals born in May/June was shorter (P < 0.01) than for foals born in March/April. Out of the 46 lactating mares, 44 ovulated between Days 8 and 18 postpartum and two mares ovulated on days 30 and 145, respectively. Pregnant mares were significantly (P < 0.001) heavier (600.1 +/- 5.3 kg) than non-pregnant mares (521.8 +/- 10.0 kg) at the beginning of the study. Birth resulted in weight reduction of 64.8 +/- 2.4 kg. During the first 2 weeks postpartum mares lost on average 3.0 +/- 1.8 kg and in the following 2 weeks gained 3.6 +/- 1.4 kg of weight. Thereafter, weight increased slightly but continuously (P < 0.01). At no time after foaling, weight differed significantly between groups. Weight of the foals three days after birth varied between 29 and 67 kg (53.7 +/- 1.1 kg). Average daily weight gain of foals was relatively constant throughout the study period (1.15 +/- 0.17 kg). Although lactation at no time was associated with a major weight loss, it had clear effects on energy metabolism as shown by constantly lower plasma glucose concentrations in lactating mares. Glucose concentrations decreased after foaling and were significantly lower in lactating mares from Weeks 3 to 16 after foaling than at corresponding times in non-lactating mares (P < 0.01). However, glucose concentrations were still within the physiological range. Mares seem to be able to compensate energy losses during lactation mainly by increasing feed intake and not by mobilisation of body fat.

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Accession: 004059480

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PMID: 14757474

DOI: 10.1016/s0093-691x(03)00279-6

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