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Genomic breeding index for Osteochondrosis in Danish Warmblood horses

Title: Genomic breeding index for Osteochondrosis in Danish Warmblood horses

Foundation: Hesteafgiftsfonden

Project period: January-December 2017

Project objective and background

The aim of the project is to develop a genomic genetic evaluation for Osteochondrosis in Warmblood horses.

The breeding goal of many Warmblood studbooks is to breed horses with high rideability and a strong health, capable to compete on international level in either jumping or dressage.

Osteochondrosis (OC) is one of the most prevalent health disorders in horses. Breeders and horse owners have significant economic losses because the prevalence of OC in the population. Every year many horses should be operated, killed or sold in a reduced price because of OC.

Osteochondrosis has a genetic background and its heritability is similar than performance in competition in jumping and dressage. Therefore, it is expected that using effective breeding strategies the incidence of the disease can be reduced. For that, it is necessary to predict the genetic predisposition of horses to present the disease and transmit it to their offspring.

The systematic registration of OC started in Denmark in 2012, but genetic evaluations of the horse population have been not developed yet. Currently, information on ~ 3500 horses that received a veterinary diagnoses based in X ray tests are available. Based on this information and on the recording system of the Danish Warmblood studbook, this project has the objective to estimate genetic parameters for OC, which are necessary for the implementation of a genetic evaluation for OC.  The implementation of the genomic evaluation will be evaluated based on the current reference population genotyped (~ 500 horses).

At the end of this project, the implementation of a genetic evaluation with genomic information is expected. The use of this information by the breeders will permit to reduce the incidence of OC significantly in the warmblood horse population, contributing to the breeding of healthier and more durable horses.