Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Foaling mares are totally relaxed – no stress

11.06.2014

It is often assumed that giving birth is both stressful and painful for the mother. This may be the case for humans but does it also apply to horses or are we transferring human experiences to the animals?

Scientists at the Vetmeduni Vienna have investigated the stress associated with birth in horses and other domestic animals. The findings show that contrary to expectations horse mares appear to be completely relaxed when foaling. The results are published in the Journal Theriogenology.


Foaling appears to cause the opposite of a stress response.

(Photo: Vetmeduni Vienna)

Foaling in horses is extremely fast. Labour and the active part of foaling, resulting in delivery of the foal, take 10 to 20 minutes and are considerably shorter than giving birth in humans or in cows. Is this brief period stressful for the animals or are horses more relaxed than humans when giving birth?

This issue has been addressed by Christina Nagel and colleagues, who closely observed 17 foalings at the Brandenburg State Stud in Neustadt (Dosse), Germany, as well as recording electrocardiograms before, during and after foaling. The researchers also took samples of saliva and blood and analysed the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. As Nagel summarizes, “Normal foaling appears to cause just the opposite of a stress response”.

Cardiac and circulatory demands remain at a low level

Surprisingly, during labour the heart rate of mares does not increase. On the contrary, the mares even miss some individual heart beats due to delayed stimulus conduction in the heart. In humans, such second-degree atriventricular (AV) blocks often require medical treatment but many healthy horses show AV blocks at rest. On physical activity, e.g. when the horse is ridden, the heart beat becomes regular and the beat frequency increases. The finding of AV blocks during foaling suggests that mares are strongly influenced by the parasympathetic nervous system, which usually causes a state of rest and relaxation. Its antagonist, the sympathetic nervous system, would prepare the organism for a stress response but does not seem to be active while the animals are giving birth.

No stress during foaling

The level of stress hormones remains low in foaling mares and the researchers did not find an adrenaline rush at any point. Foaling clearly does not evoke a stress response. The need to care for the newly born foal was also not perceived as stressful: contact between the mare and the foal was associated with a further state of relief and relaxation.
Horses thus experience giving birth very differently from human mothers. They need a safe environment to give birth: all the foals in the study were born at night, when the stable was quiet. As the Head of the Research Group, Christine Aurich, explains, “Parturition in horses requires a state of relaxation in the mare. This is an advantage in wild horses because mares can postpone labour until they perceive the environment as calm and safe. Once this is the case, foaling proceeds within a very short time.”

The article “Parturition in horses is dominated by parasympathetic activity of the autonomous nervous system”, by Christina Nagel, Regina Erber, Natascha Ille, Mareike von Lewinski, Jörg Aurich, Erich Möstl and Christine Aurich has just been published in the scientific journal Theriogenology.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2014.03.015

The study was conducted at the Graf Lehndorff Institute for Equine Science, a joint research unit of the Vetmeduni Vienna and the Brandenburg State Stud at Neustadt (Dosse), Germany.

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,200 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Dr. Christina Nagel
Clinical Unit of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Andrology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 250776408
christina.nagel@vetmeduni.ac.at

Released by:
Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch
Science Communication / Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1153
susanna.kautschitsch@vetmeduni.ac.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2014/...

Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Medicine Veterinary Vetmeduni activity birth hormones horses nervous relaxed

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

nachricht Ecological intensification of agriculture
09.09.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development

28.09.2016 | Medical Engineering

Innovate coating extends the life of materials for industrial use

28.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Blockchain Set to Transform the Financial Services Market

28.09.2016 | Business and Finance

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>