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Australia - Battle looms over horse artificial insemination

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  • Australia - Battle looms over horse artificial insemination

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/spor...1113-icnn.html


    Battle looms over horse artificial inseminationJENNIE CURTIN
    November 12, 2009 - 11:24PM

    EQUINE sex will be on the agenda in the Federal Court next week when a would-be breeder takes on the Australian racing hierarchy for the right to artificially inseminate horses.

    In a case likely to have widespread ramifications, Bruce McHugh is alleging that the Australian Jockey Club, the Victorian Racing Club and the Australian Racing Board are breaching the Trade Practices Act by refusing to allow thoroughbreds bred by artificially insemination to race.

    Mr McHugh, a former bookmaker and chairman of the Sydney Turf Club, claims that racing rules effectively prevent him breeding thoroughbred horses through artificial insemination, which is a restraint of trade. He also claims the policy weaken competition in the thoroughbred breeding market.

    Under the rules of racing, a horse cannot run in a race or official trial unless it is registered; to be registered, it has to be accepted in the Australian Stud Book. But the stud book refuses to accept any horse which has been produced ''by any form of artificial breeding or from a natural covering of a mare by a stallion which in that same covering season was being bred to other mares by artificial insemination (i.e. was a semen donor).''

    The case is set for hearing in Sydney on Tuesday. But the peak body for Australian thoroughbred breeders has warned that a win for Mr McHugh could threaten the industry.

    The chief executive officer of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, Peter McGauran, said yesterday all major breeding nations, including France, Britain, Japan and the United States would ban any Australian horse which was artificially inseminated.

    ''The very large and diverse Australian industry would be decimated by being locked out of the international marketplace. We export close to 3000 horses a year for in excess of $100 million and our major sales are largely underpinned by foreign buyers.''

    Mr McGauran said a big concern was ''the narrowing of the genetic pool''. There were fears that, if restrictions were lifted, semen from the top 20 stallions in the world could be used to impregnate thousands of mares, rather than the couple of hundred a season they now cover.

    But a senior lecturer in equine reproduction at Charles Sturt University, Scott Norman, said the AJC already had the means to discourage massive breeding by imposing a rule that it would register only a limited number of foals to each stallion. He said concerns about incorrect breeding details being passed on had been alleviated by modern technology. ''The argument of getting the sire lines mixed up is pretty much taken care of now with DNA testing and microchips.''

    Artificial insemination of non-thoroughbred horses, such as those used in dressage, endurance events or showjumping, was ''very common and very widespread'', Dr Norman said.

    ''There were probably at some stage … good arguments [against artificial insemination], but technology is catching up to the point when you should embrace it.''

    Mr McHugh was not available for comment yesterday, but he told the Herald in March: ''I've looked at this from every … angle and the only thing I can see against it is the fact that the major studs see an advantage in not introducing it … I wouldn't be doing it unless I was confident I could get the result I require, and I will go down that path until someone can explain to me … why it's not good for the industry.''
    "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."

  • #2
    I guess I don't have any major problems with it, as long as there are some rules such as the one mentioned about limiting the number of registered foals per stallion. But of course, I guess that could be considered "restraint of trade" as well.

    Comment


    • #3
      I am going to be crucified for this but my argument is for.

      With the technology to collect and freeze could you just imagine what a "collector or finacial speculater" could get $$ if auctioning off semen from some of the worlds pre-eminant sires who were deceased.

      Race horses could have longer careers on track and not rushed to the "sheds" and be collected while on lay-up. Possibly bringing more fans back.

      Stallions who have died from accident or short lived careers would be available AD and there is always the pedigree con
      I actually opens up the world to breeders who do not wish to stress their stallion and risk plane flights to other hemispheres.

      Mares would not need to be shipped cross country,oceans or state lines.

      Stallions should have a cap on # of foals registered. And thats no a fair trade infringement but a bargain chip. You don't get it both ways..stand live or arificial. Reserve the right to freeze and sell after death but for life duration its one way or the other.

      DNA technology and micro chipping every foal not just lip tattoo would help.

      Comment


      • #4
        They're not going to do this if they want their foals to be eligible to race anywhere but Australia.

        Comment


        • #5
          If there were a way to limit AI breedings by registering only the number of foals they could have covered live, that would be one thing. But as the registries are also in business to make money, they're not going to do that. I'm against.

          It would not keep horses on the track longer--they would still get retired, and could now cover twice or three times the number of mares. Volume would mean that the price on some stallions could come down, meaning the most popular/in demand stallions (with some of the crabgrass-common pedigrees full of bad ankles and inbreeding) would cover even MORE mares, reducing genetic diversity even further.

          Then what, also? Embryo transfer? Breed your mare and keep her racing all the time, or even get two or three foals out of her by different stallions in one year?

          To cap it all, given that part of the antis' argument is that the industry overbreeds, resulting in more horses who end up being sold to kill buyers or ending up in other bad situations, should TB registries WANT to allow people to pump out even more horses? To have one collection now capable of producing multiple foals? I dont' think even the breeders really want that, given the prices they're getting this year. Until and unless the market really turns around, we want FEWER horses bred, not more. And we don't want them all from the same dozen or so stallions.
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          • #6
            To me, this is the interesting bit.
            from a natural covering of a mare by a stallion which in that same covering season was being bred to other mares by artificial insemination (i.e. was a semen donor)
            So if your TB stallion is used for AI on (possibly non-TB) sport horses, it can't breed registered TBs by natural cover? That seems a bit extreme.

            I don't think that the US and Canadian JCs are THAT strict. But maybe I am wrong.
            Janet

            chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              That caught my eye too Janet.

              from a natural covering of a mare by a stallion which in that same covering season was being bred to other mares by artificial insemination (i.e. was a semen donor)

              Fully admit this is the first time I have ever heard of it.

              And just this week I read a post somehwere about how common it is to AI mares after they have been live covered. Geez, now what site was that posted on? *thinking*
              "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."

              Comment


              • #8
                I would love to see the precedent where everyone says that if AI were allowed, that the top 20 stallions would breed all the mares. I dont know who thinks mare owners are so utterly stupid, but I for one sure dont want to be a part of a 300 mare book on any stallion, I dont care who they are. The whole fallacy of AI is that it would not close the genetic pool, but open it up. The whole AI argument in a nutshell, is that Kentucky is afraid of losing all their mare board for mares being shipping to KY to be bred. And the funniest thing of all, what makes me laugh until I choke, is that stallions and mares are leaving Kentucky in droves because their breeding program sucks, and PA, NY, LA, and other states are getting all the mares.

                So they screwed themselves. If they offered AI, at least people would still buy their semen to ship to their home states. Now they dont even have that option. I hope they enjoy all those empty pastures.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  The whole AI argument in a nutshell, is that Kentucky is afraid of losing all their mare board for mares being shipping to KY to be bred.

                  How I view it too.
                  "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    YUP to above!

                    You actually don't HAVE to have a registered TB to race. If you can prove the horse is a purebred TB (easy by DNA) you can get a racing license, you just can't breed the horse for registered TBs.

                    SO if people were to get nice horses with racing licenses that did well enough racing that they would be wanted at stud THEN the owners could pursue a restraint of trade against the JC because there is no reason at all that a purebred TB should be bred a certain way to get that stupid paper. The horse is a purebred TB, it should get papers. It would be different if the JC were not a monopoly.
                    Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

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                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      [QUOTE=summerhorse;4498394]You actually don't HAVE to have a registered TB to race. If you can prove the horse is a purebred TB (easy by DNA) you can get a racing license, you just can't breed the horse for registered TBs.[QUOTE]

                      Gosh, always learning a lot. I did not know this.
                      "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by halo View Post
                        I would love to see the precedent where everyone says that if AI were allowed, that the top 20 stallions would breed all the mares. I dont know who thinks mare owners are so utterly stupid, but I for one sure dont want to be a part of a 300 mare book on any stallion, I dont care who they are.
                        I am not an expert, but I seem to remember that something like that DID happen when Standardbreds first allowed AI.

                        Maybe someone closer to the Standardber industry can confrm or deny.
                        Janet

                        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There was no huge increase in book to the best sires in the Standardbred industry in the 70's, mostly because the technology wasn't all that great and partially because of the high fees commanded by these horses. Most AI was done on the stud farms in those days anyway, with the mare still being shipped. There have been a few little jumps in bookings to certain horses as technology improved but not huge jumps. Horse semen doesn't always freeze well, and even now, shipping fresh cooled fails. There is also the aspect of missing out on provincial/state sires stakes and incentives with outside horses, regardless if the mare is shipped or semen is shipped and it is often easier to buy a horse with the bloodlines you are looking for, assuming you have the facilities (done here by the local breeders) or if you have one mare, send her down the road to whomever has a horse you like. At any rate, it's been decades since there have been huge numbers of foals by any given stallion registered in one year as most breeders realised it was wrong to have that many foals by one sire and started limiting book again, and now limited book is mandated by rules - 125 (I think) foals by any given sire. That said, I know of one sire ages ago that would service far more than 125 mares live cover every year. I can't remember the largest number registered from one sire, but was in excess of 400 and as said, that only happened for a couple of seasons - you dont poopie in your own nest that way as you end up without compatable breeding stock.
                          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                          Member: Incredible Invisbles

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sk_pacer View Post
                            There was no huge increase in book to the best sires in the Standardbred industry in the 70's, mostly because the technology wasn't all that great and partially because of the high fees commanded by these horses. Most AI was done on the stud farms in those days anyway, with the mare still being shipped. There have been a few little jumps in bookings to certain horses as technology improved but not huge jumps. Horse semen doesn't always freeze well, and even now, shipping fresh cooled fails. There is also the aspect of missing out on provincial/state sires stakes and incentives with outside horses, regardless if the mare is shipped or semen is shipped and it is often easier to buy a horse with the bloodlines you are looking for, assuming you have the facilities (done here by the local breeders) or if you have one mare, send her down the road to whomever has a horse you like. At any rate, it's been decades since there have been huge numbers of foals by any given stallion registered in one year as most breeders realised it was wrong to have that many foals by one sire and started limiting book again, and now limited book is mandated by rules - 125 (I think) foals by any given sire. That said, I know of one sire ages ago that would service far more than 125 mares live cover every year. I can't remember the largest number registered from one sire, but was in excess of 400 and as said, that only happened for a couple of seasons - you dont poopie in your own nest that way as you end up without compatable breeding stock.
                            Interesting point to hear, obviously horses are different from cows, I think the dairy marked is largely populated by half sisters...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Alagirl View Post
                              Interesting point to hear, obviously horses are different from cows, I think the dairy marked is largely populated by half sisters...
                              It's interesting - bovine semen freezes best, no matter what verson of bovine. Sheep semen also freeses well, and equine the poorest. Motility on certain sires, while wonderful for live cover or fresh AI may not freeze well , or even cool well. One sire, who shall remain nameless was the hot commodity a few years ago, and everyone and his dog wanted one of his babies - they were mostly SOL because his swimmers didn't after cooling; freezing was nominally better; most of his babies that you see were live cover or fresh AI.

                              The dairy cattle are pretty closely related (female) with a few complete outcross lines for bulls. Less common dairy cattle such as Jerseys and Gurnseys are less closely related. Same applies to beef breeds, and even bucking stock in some places.
                              Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                              Member: Incredible Invisbles

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by halo View Post
                                I would love to see the precedent where everyone says that if AI were allowed, that the top 20 stallions would breed all the mares. I dont know who thinks mare owners are so utterly stupid, but I for one sure dont want to be a part of a 300 mare book on any stallion, I dont care who they are. The whole fallacy of AI is that it would not close the genetic pool, but open it up. The whole AI argument in a nutshell, is that Kentucky is afraid of losing all their mare board for mares being shipping to KY to be bred. And the funniest thing of all, what makes me laugh until I choke, is that stallions and mares are leaving Kentucky in droves because their breeding program sucks, and PA, NY, LA, and other states are getting all the mares.

                                So they screwed themselves. If they offered AI, at least people would still buy their semen to ship to their home states. Now they dont even have that option. I hope they enjoy all those empty pastures.
                                100% agree with this. Besides, not everyone can afford the stud fees of the top 20 stallions so it would be the same millionaires that could do it before doing it after AI. It just helps the rest of the industry by allowing more options. Also the breeding farms themselves can not allow AI if they choose and only offer LC. If the stallion is good enough, people will still book their mares to him. So there is still some control - it's just not the JC's.

                                Besides, taking the money view away from this, it is just safer for all the handlers of the breeding stock .

                                Interesting read.
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                                • #17
                                  I'm looking forward to the day when Thoroughbred breeding joins the 20th century.

                                  This is long overdue.

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