The traditional spring training, organized by the Association of Lipizzaner Breeders of Slovenia

The traditional spring training, organized by the Association of Lipizzaner Breeders of Slovenia, took place on March 25 at the Repnik Inn in Kamnik. While having a pleasant time together, we gained some new knowledge about reproduction, the new regulations on animal welfare and horse nutrition.

After the opening greeting of the president, Aleksander Ozmec, and the manager of breeding comeete, Klemen Turk dr. vet. med., in the first part presented her lectures Špela Petročnik, dr. vet. med., who lectured on the reproduction of mares. She is currently preparing her doctorate at the Clinic for Reproduction and Large Animals, where she is employed as a young researcher, and has also acquired a lot of knowledge abroad. She presented the course of the basic reproductive cycle in mares, i.e. the state of estrus and diestrus, as well as the time sequence of events and necessary tasks for successful reproduction.

She then presented the practice of reproduction at the Lipica Studfarm, which takes place with artificial insemination with fresh semen. Ovulation is monitored via ultrasound. The semen is collected on the artificial vagina, then it is examined and after the evaluation of the semen, the mare is inseminated at the most optimal time. If the mare has not ovulated the next day, the procedure is repeated. In the stud farm, they do not allow for foal conception (the first conception after foaling, which occurs between 5-12 days after birth). Some mares need to be monitored with ultrasound even after admission, as inflammation of the uterus may occur.

After insemination, it is very important to provide the mares with enough exercise. Examinations for pregnancy are carried out with ultrasound, and examination is possible as early as 14 days later. Gestation usually lasts between 320 and 345 days. The mammary gland begins to fill 2-6 weeks before foaling. In most mares, the birth is quick and without complications.

We know the 1-2-3 method with foals. For the first hour it must stand up, for the second hour it sucks and for the third hour it must pass meconium (the first stool). The foal’s sucking reflex occurs five to twenty minutes after birth. For the first hour it must stand up, for the second hour it sucks and for the third hour it must pass meconium (the first stool). If this is not met, it makes sense to contact an expert or a veterinarian. Colostrum is most absorbed in the first 6 hours and peaks within 24 hours. During this time, the foal acquires necessary antibodies and nutrients. We talked for some time about the importance of disinfecting the navel of a newborn foal. The foal must be lively, strong and have a desire to suck.

In the second part of the lecture, Petra Kramarič , PhD, presented the concept of animal welfare, which will be part of the new regulations on the protection of farmed animals (chapter for equidae) and originates from the concept of the five freedoms of animals.

1 . Absence of hunger and thirst (we would like to bring animals as close to natural behavior as possible and provide unlimited access to water and fiber).

  1. Absence of discomfort (in this part, space, shelter, equipment for work and the herd are determined, especially that the horse is not alone, or if the horse is large, it can retreat or run away).
  2. Absence of pain, injuries and diseases (the owner prevents and preventively facilitates the well-being of the animal. Grooms the teeth, hooves and takes care of administering antiparasitic agents. Maintains safe enclosures and stables).
  3. Prevention of fear and distress (the owner prevents the animal from suffering psychologically).
  4. The possibility of expressing behavior characteristic of the animal species (enough space for free movement, size of space in the side, shelter and on external surfaces).

The result of these five freedoms is a chapter in the regulations that defines the minimum conditions for raising horses, so that we meet the minimum conditions for animal welfare. It defines the minimum sizes of boxes, discharges, the requirement for social contacts and regular care of the animals. It also defines handling and work with horses, loading, and prescribes the conditions under which horses should not be used (excessive heat, humidity, last trimester of pregnancy and first trimester of lactation).

The third part of the training was taught by Stane Knez. dr. vet. med., who has been dealing with animal nutrition (especially horses) for many years, in a lecture entitled Nutrition of mares, foals and young horses, he presented us with a nutritional pyramid that he compiled over a 20-year career. He emphasized that it is not only important what we feed the horses, but also when. Horses should not consume more than 1.5 g of strong fodder per kg of the horse’s live weight per meal, which is approximately 1 l of grain per meal (Applies to a moderately working horse). It would be ideal to feed several times a day in smaller meals. Of course, he also explained this theory professionally through spreadsheets and professional research. He also emphasized that hay production is important. He recommends mowing late (when the grass is already blooming – it shakes off the seeds and the top turns brown) and that the cuttings are not made in the fastest gears of the tractor. Slow mowing helps prevent the presence of soil and dust in the hay. The first cut is the best choice of hay for horses.

In his company Nutribiovet, which represents the company Cavalor from Belgium, he often encounters various problems, but most often: The mare has no milk after foaling… This is not unusual for first-time mothers, as he says that they can get milk with less delay. On the first day, the foal can be offered alpine milk with 1.5% milk fat with the addition of honey (1 tablespoon per liter of milk) when foal is sucking at it+s mother (necessary for the later release of milk). We offer 200-250 ml every two hours. If everything is normal, the next day the first-time mother will already have enough milk to cover the food needs of the foal. In the event that the mare is still not producing milk, it is definitely necessary to consult a veterinarian or an expert.

Another question that often arises is that the mare lost a lot of weight during lactation. Mares can lose a bit of weight during the 2-3rd month of lactation, as this is when lactation is most intense. If we act on time, there are no major problems. However, if the mare loses a lot of weight during the 4th month of lactation, it is very difficult to expect quick results, even if we increase the ration. But let’s not forget about mineral vitamin supplements, which he recommends adding at least 3 times a week, and mares during pregnancy and lactation every day. At the end, he added that in case of problems with the nutrition of the horses and possible problems with lactation, he is always available via a telephone number.

After the lecture, we chatted a little more about horses over a good lunch and pleasant company…

Nina Peternel