Embryo recovery from exercised mares.
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The effect of exercise on mare reproductive efficiency was evaluated by comparing rates of embryo recovery from mares assigned to either an exercise regimen or a non-exercise (control) regimen. Exercised mares were worked daily for 30 min under average ambient conditions of >30 degrees C and >50% humidity. Mares were inseminated during estrus and subjected to uterine flush for embryo recovery on d 7 after ovulation for two consecutive cycles. After this, mares were allocated to the opposite group and allowed an estrous cycle without reproductive manipulation; then insemination and uterine flushing were conducted on two more consecutive cycles. Prostaglandin F(2alpha) was administered on the day of uterine flush. Mare rectal temperature increased during exercise from a mean of 38 degrees C to a mean of 39.9 degrees C. Mares had ovulations from smaller follicles when exercised than they did under control conditions (39.8+/-0.5 compared with 41.5+/-0.5mm diameter; P<0.05), and had an increased time from PGF(2alpha) administration to subsequent ovulation (8.47+/-0.337 compared with 9.27+/-0.294 d; P<0.05). Embryo recovery from control mares was 22 of 35 (63%). Fewer embryos were recovered from exercised mares (11 of 32, 34%; P<0.05). The proportion of embryos classified as Grade 1 tended to be less in exercised than in non-exercised mares (4 of 11, 36% compared with 16 of 22, 73%; P=0.051). These data indicate that exercising mares in a hot and humid environment are associated with changes in ovarian follicle development and ovulation, and a reduction in embryo recovery.