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Author (up) Burger, D.; Baumgartner, M.; Schauer, S. N.; Wägeli, S.; Aurich, C.; Gerber, V. pdf  openurl
  Title Influence of the recipient mare on character traits of adult offspring in a Warmblood embryo transfer program – preliminary results Type Conference Article
  Year 2008 Publication IESM 2008 Abbreviated Journal  
  Volume Issue Pages  
  Abstract The influence of recipient mares in commercial embryo transfer (ET) programs

on behavior of the ET foals is a matter of great interest and controversial discussion.

Presently, no interdisciplinary ethological and reproductive studies on this topic exist.

However, empirical experience suggests that behavioral traits of the recipient mare do not

influence those of the foal, thus implying a predominantly genetic origin of a horse“s basic

character. Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of recipient

mares on behavioural traits of their ET products.

Materials and Methods: Based on records of the embryo transfer program in Warmblood

horses since 1990 at the Swiss National Stud, questionnaires concerning behavior,

stereotypies and mother-foal-relationship were designed and completed by telephone

interview: 18 scientifically assessed questions provided the basis for a linear description

(Equine Personality Assessment Questionnaire, Lloyd et al., 2007). They were grouped in a)

emotivity, b) social motivation, c) general level of activity, d) stress behavior, e) learning

capacity and f) reactions towards humans. Questionnaires were designed for the owners of the

ET offspring (minimum of three years of age), the sires, donor mares and the recipient mares.

Out of 200 questionnaires, 25 complete ET families have emerged so far and were analysed.

All genetic parents were Warmblood horses, as were 23 of the recipient mares, the other two

were Franches-Montagnes horses.

Results: Comparing the mean values of the four groups (genetic dam and sire, recipient mare

and ET product), significant differences were found for the parameters emotivity (sires lower,

p<0.001), learning behaviour (recipient mares lower, p<0.05) and activity (recipient mares

lower, p<0.05). With only one exception, the multiple variable regression analysis found no

significant influence of the recipient mare on the ET product. The only significant effect

observed, was that of the social motivation of the recipient mare on the learning capacity of

the ET offspring (r2= -0.421, p<0.05). In contrast, numerous significant effects of behavioural

traits of the genetic dams and sires on their ET offspring (10 and 8, respectively) were


Conclusions: These preliminary results confirm field observations that the influence of the

recipient mare does not play an important role in character development of the ET offspring.

However, the investigated parameters indicate that the behavioural traits of the genetic parents

appear to have a strong influence on the offspring”s behaviour.. This study model promises

new achievements in the evaluation of genetic and environmental effects on the behavior of a



Lloyd, AS, Martin, JE, Bornett-Gauci, HLI, Wilkinson, RG (2007). Evaluation of a novel

method of horse personality asses
  Corporate Author Baumgartner, M. Thesis  
  Publisher Place of Publication Editor  
  Language Summary Language Original Title  
  Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title  
  Series Volume Series Issue Edition  
  ISSN ISBN Medium  
  Area Expedition Conference IESM 2008  
  Notes Talk 15 min IESM 2008 Approved yes  
  Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 4485  
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