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Title: Studies in equine reproduction
Author: Wilsher, Sandra Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 9274
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2009
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The papers put forward by the candidate represent a significant contribution to three main areas within the body of knowledge of equine reproduction. Namely, i) epidemiological surveys of the efficiency of Thoroughbred racing and breeding, ii) the morphology and functions of the equine placenta and, iii) embryo transfer in the horse. Two extensive surveys on reproductive efficiency of Thoroughbred mares and stallions at stud and factors associated with the failure of Thoroughbred horses to train and race demonstrated that increasing mare age is the greatest limiting factor to an otherwise high rate of fertility in English Thoroughbreds although a high incidence of early embryonic death remains a significant loss to the breeding industry. The racing wastage survey showed little change over the past 20 years in the percentage of 2- and 3-year-old horses that fail to run, the percentage that are never placed in a race and the number that suffer significant injury or illness during their racing careers. Radical and innovative changes to training methods are needed to overcome these problems. The morphology of the equine placenta was examined using gross measurements, stereological-techniques, vascular casting and immunohistochemistry and the findings related to fetal development and postnatal growth. Stereological measurements applied to term placentae established reference parameters such as surface area per unit volume of placental microcotyledons, the total microscopic area of contact between mother and fetus at the placental interface, and placental VI efficiency. Maternal age, parity, size, genotype and nutrition were all shown to alter placental morphology and, hence, pre- and postnatal fetal development. A novel pair of cervical forceps were designed and marketed to provide a simple and practical method for undertaking transcervical embryo transfer in the horse which enables inexperienced operators to transfer horse embryos successfully. These Wilsher Equine Embryo Transfer Forceps have won widespread acclaim and commercial application in the equine veterinary and scientific communities. A pharmacological method to extend donor-recipient synchrony was developed with both commercial and scientific application. Further work also showed the unique ability of the equine embryo to tolerate a very wide window of donor-recipient asynchrony and it provided a valuable research tool with which to study the relevant roles of the conceptus and uterine environment in regulating embryonic differentiation and fetal growth in the mare.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: horse breeding ; equine reproduction ; embryo transfer ; equine fertility ; D390 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified