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Is mare sexual behavior affected by age and can it predict ovulation?

By Cláudia Emanuela Rocha, Enilma da Cunha de Carvalho, Flávia Carla Goulart Soares de Castro, Ivis Luiz Gomes de Sena Xavier, Robert John Young, Maristela Silveira Palhares, José Monteiro da Silva Filho, Renata Rezende Carvalho, Angélica da Silva Vasconcellos, Guilherme Ribeiro Valle

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Abstract

Although discontinued with the introduction of ultrasonography, the study of mare sexual behavior may provide useful information for herds that lack technical assistance. In order to investigate how mare sexual behavior is associated with ovulation and age, sexual behaviors were recorded for 1,348 teasings of 82 mares during three breeding seasons. From nine days before D-9 until the day of ovulation D0, sexual behaviors were recorded and classified as either estrus-positive or estrus-negative. Estrus-positive behaviors were more frequent, and estrus-negative less frequent, in ovulatory than anovulatory estrus (all P < 0.05, except for Biting). Estrus-positive behaviors increased from D-9 to D-1 and decreased from D-1 to D0 (all P < 0.05), except for Permitting Mount, which increased from D-1 to D0 (P < 0.01). Almost all estrus-negative behaviors decreased from D-9 to D-1 and increased from D-1 to D0 (P < 0.05). A GLM analysis indicated that the older the mare, the earlier she started exhibiting estrus-positive behaviors (all P < 0.01), and ceased estrus-negative behaviors (P < 0.01), except for Vocalizing. The results revealed that: (i) mares with ovulatory estrus and mares with anovulatory estrus exhibit different sexual behaviors; (ii) sexual behavior is influenced by mare age; and (iii) most estrus-positive behaviors increase during estrus and decrease near ovulation, but with the behavior of Permitting Mount increasing around ovulation. These results contribute to understanding equine reproductive biology and may be useful for herds that are not technically assisted by veterinarians.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 224
Pages 104937
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2020.104937
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Tags
  1. Age
  2. Horses
  3. ovulation
  4. Sexual behavior