AgriFutures Australia: ‘Equility’ – Rapid stallion fertility testing device – partnership opportunity
- Veterinary equipment and instrument developer and manufacture companies, with knowledge and understanding of sales and marketing of instruments
- Preferably with links and knowledge of the horse breeding industries – natural and artificial insemination.
Thoroughbred horse breeding is vital to support the horse racing industry across the globe. It can be impacted by a lack of data on the fertility and virility of a stallion at the time of mating. At present a post mount sample of the stallion's semen is sent to a vet for analysis which can take a significant amount of time. If the results show that a stallion has low fertility or virility, all mares that have been serviced while waiting for the test results need to be scheduled to be serviced again. This results in additional costs to stallion owners and time lost within a limited breeding season window.
While this is a challenge for all horse breeds, it is of greatest economic impact in the thoroughbred industry due to the requirement to utilise natural breeding. There are between 20,000 and 25,000 planned matings conducted within the Australian thoroughbred industry each year. This is a worldwide challenge for the thoroughbred and the broader equine industry.
AgriFutures Australia and the University of Newcastle have developed a test device and post mount sample assessment protocol that tests the fertility and virility of a stallion at time of service. The almost instant results allow for the stallion to continue, or stop, servicing mares based on accurate data. The device reduces costs, time and increases stallion welfare. An opportunity exists for instrument manufacturing, biotech and veterinary services companies to commercialise the technology.
The relative fertility of Thoroughbred stallions is highly variability, ranging from 35% to 90%. Owing to the relatively short 4-month breeding season, and the 14-day delay between breeding and pregnancy diagnoses, breeders require a method to rapidly identify ejaculates that are unlikely to achieve a pregnancy. Stallion fertility is dependent upon the sperms’ ability to efficiently produce energy. We have exploited this biochemical pathway to design and developed a prototype device, named ‘Equility’, that measures the energy producing capacity of spermatozoa in a post-breeding ‘dismount’ semen sample.
A current research project to continue until June 2024 is building on the 11 years of research to date. The ‘Equility’ device will be tested again during the 2023 breeding season in Australia to fine tune the design of the device and testing and analysis protocols for the sample evaluation.
Potential other applications:
‘Equility’ is currently being developed for the thoroughbred horse industry but potentially could have other applications where ‘natural’ breeding is required to produce offspring.
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