A survey of the fertility of Icelandic stallions

Mina Clare Gwynne Davies-Morel, V Gunnarsson

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Very limited information is available on the breeding performance of Icelandic stallions, let alone the effect that management practices may have had on such performance. As an extensively kept, largely genetically isolated breed of horse it provides a good model for the study of factors that affect reproductive performance without the additional complication of selective breeding, infectious infertility and breed effect. A survey was conducted using 27 Icelandic stallions covering 1590 mares within the normal Icelandic breeding system (May to September). During the season, stallions cover mares within three periods of time, each period being of a similar length (average 35.5 days). During period 1, mares are covered in hand and at pasture. During periods 2 and 3, all mares are covered at pasture. The overall fertility rate for Icelandic stallions was calculated. The effect of a range of variables on fertility was investigated statistically using a number of models in an attempt to minimise the effect of confounding factors. An overall adjusted fertility rate for Icelandic stallions of 67.7% was obtained. The following factors were shown to have a significant effect on fertility: age of mare (P<0.001), training level of stallion (P<0.05) and method of breeding (P<0.05). For some individual stallions reproductive status of the mare also had a significant (P<0.001) effect. Many of these factors have been observed to effect FR in other more intensively managed equine populations. However, the less dramatic detrimental effect of age and the lack of a significant effect of mare reproductive status in most stallions suggests that infertility problems are less evident in Icelandic mares, possibly due to less emphasis on selection for athletic performance and the accepted culling of subfertile stock.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-64
Number of pages16
JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2000


  • Breeding
  • Fertility
  • Horse


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