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Genetics 101

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  • Genetics 101

    Please forgive my naivety; Genetics was never my forte. I'm just wondering, when people are breeding horses, why does there seem to be so much more emphasis placed on the stallion's performance (history) than on the mare's? When referring to the parentage of a horse, why is the sire always emphasized, and not the dam?
    I can understand that an outstanding stallion could enhance the progeny of a not-so-outstanding mare, but does that go both ways?
    Hope someone can shed some light on this for me ~ Thanks!
    Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it ~ Goethe

  • #2
    Foals get a whole lot more of their dam in them than their sire. I don't want to get into a pissing match with the breeders here, but the mare is way more important than the sire, and that is all I'm going to say.
    M

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    • #3
      Actually I don't think the mare or the stallion is more important genetically. The mare does have some influence on how the foal is raised but that can be managed with human intervention if necessary.
      I do think stallions need to be held to a much higher standard than a mare simply because of the sheer volume of offspring they are capable of creating. A mare can make at best 15-20 crappy foals in her lifetime. A stallion can make several hundred crappy foals per year. While you would like to get it "right" on both fronts, its really important to get it right with the stallion.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
        Actually I don't think the mare or the stallion is more important genetically. The mare does have some influence on how the foal is raised but that can be managed with human intervention if necessary.
        I do think stallions need to be held to a much higher standard than a mare simply because of the sheer volume of offspring they are capable of creating. A mare can make at best 15-20 crappy foals in her lifetime. A stallion can make several hundred crappy foals per year. While you would like to get it "right" on both fronts, its really important to get it right with the stallion.
        Actually foals get, I believe, 55-60% of their genetic material from the mare, so that's not quite accurate. However I agree with the rest of what you said.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dressurpferd01 View Post
          Actually foals get, I believe, 55-60% of their genetic material from the mare, so that's not quite accurate. However I agree with the rest of what you said.

          I was not aware that the mito. made up 5 to 10% of the overall genetics, could you please post a reference for this?
          Moreover, the mito DNA is not responsible for any of the "structure" of a horse, just the mito.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by stoicfish View Post
            I was not aware that the mito. made up 5 to 10% of the overall genetics, could you please post a reference for this?
            Moreover, the mito DNA is not responsible for any of the "structure" of a horse, just the mito.
            That's why I said "I believe", I'm repeating what I've heard elsewhere and on here before, no reference to provide.

            ETA: What function does mitochondrial DNA have than if it doesn't affect the horse?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by dressurpferd01 View Post
              That's why I said "I believe", I'm repeating what I've heard elsewhere and on here before, no reference to provide.

              ETA: What function does mitochondrial DNA have than if it doesn't affect the horse?
              It affects the horse but not the horses structure to any large degree. Maybe some one has a better or more accurate analogy but the mito would be like the carburetor used in a sports car, but the car itself would be the rest of the genetics.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrion
              http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=5228399

              I believe if you do a COTH search there have been some really good research articles about mito using TBs.

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              • #8
                In my genetics studies, each parent contributes 50% of their genes to the offspring. Sperm + egg = embryo.

                However, if you believe that genotype (genes) + environment = phenotype (what you see), then the mare does have more influence (environmental+ genetic) than the stallion (only genetic) on the overall package that is the foal.

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                • #9
                  I see where this is going, but I want to just add that MtDNA has nothing to do with the mare over stallion conversation. So it shouldn't be mentioned.

                  Often, pedigree's are stated as a list of broodmare sires. ie: Cassiano - Cassini I/Calypso II/ Maestose/Felipe stamm 6691. This is done because we are talking about the mares in a way that allows breeders to know what kind of mares they were, and what the breeders were thinking. They are speaking of the mares when they do this.

                  There isn't any empirical data that proves that the mares contribute more genetically. Environmentally they control 100%. There is a lot of evidence which demonstrates that focusing on the mare dramatically improves your success. Take your pick.

                  Tim
                  Sparling Rock Holsteiners
                  www.sparlingrock.com

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                  • #10
                    i am no breeder, but i bet it has to do with marketing and making money.... stallion owners make money when people breed to their stallion... so making the stallion the "important" one just creates a really great market.

                    and fwiw, i "believe" that genetically each contributes 50% to the the end product (that being the fertilized egg) however, environment plays a large role in the living result and i don't think you can deduct that from the equation... so it is 50% mare+ 50% stallion + an unknown quantity of environment = foal.

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                    • #11
                      Breed the best and ride the rest...

                      Aside from all other arguments, (and I agree strongly with Laurierace,) the very best mares are usually set to broodmare duty. Stallions can compete *and* breed, even in the same day, mares... not so much.
                      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                      Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

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