Causes of perinatal deaths in foals in New Zealand in the 2007 and 2008 seasons

Causes of perinatal deaths in foals in New Zealand in the 2007 and 2008 seasons
Peer reviewed


Perinatal death of foals is an important source of reproductive loss in horses. The exact causes of death can vary from country to country and from region to region within countries. In addition to these regional variations, the causes may vary over time within an area either due to management changes, new medical practices or the emergence of new diseases.
The aim of the current project was to perform necropsy examinations on foals within New Zealand in order to better define the causes of equine perinatal losses and thus identify areas for further research which would have benefits to the industry in minimising such losses. In addition to the necropsies of foals, a retrospective analysis of sample submissions to commercial laboratories is planned as a comparison. For the 2007 and 2008 foaling seasons 57 foals were received at Massey University, which ranged in age from 1 month pre-term to 3 weeks of age. Most of these foals died within the periparturient period, and 43% of the deaths were due to infectious agents, 13% from dystocia, 9% due to congenital deformities, 15% other causes, and 20% due to unknown causes. Investigations are ongoing in a small number of cases.

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