MRLS Study Shows No Ill Effects on 2001 Foals; Another Weather Warning

Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome took the lives of some 3,500 foals in Central Kentucky, but a recent study indicates it did not affect the quality of life for surviving foals who might have been exposed to the syndrome. A study following the foaling history of 91 mares in Central Kentucky showed no effect in the incidence of fetal loss, any fetal abnormalities, or placental or foal weight at birth.

Hagyard-Davidson-McGee veterinary clinic work with the University of Kentucky on the study. As of February, four of the mares in the study lost their foals, but at the time, Dr. Walter Zent said that was certainly within normal limits.

Because all of the mares followed in that study have foaled, that research has ended, but Dr. Jimmy Henning provided an update Thursday into ongoing soil and plant sampling going on at 13 farms.

As of April 25, all the farms had four cycles of sampling completed. A release said "monitoring teams have been sampling at twice normal speed due to the cooler temperatures and the time of year (coinciding with the onset of MRLS in 2001.) To date, no MRLS symptoms have been noted. "

Among the tests conducted on those samples were checking levels of mycotoxins, which have revealed nothing so far, forage mineral content, which are within normal ranges, and soil microbial counts, which are at acceptable levels.

However, Henning's report did note that cyanide levels in white clover are currently higher than in early spring. It also mentioned the levels of alkaloids associated with tall fescue could be a problem if it is the primary diet of mares in the last 60 days of gestation.

For the second time this week UK recommended that mares early and late into their pregnancies be kept off pastures as much as possible until noon on Friday because of the forecasted frost in low lying areas.