10/14/2001 11:00PM

Foal loss cost put at $336 million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A study by the University of Louisville predicts that the Kentucky equine breeding industry's economic losses from mare reproductive loss syndrome will reach $336 million for the period from 2000 to 2003. The majority of those losses - $300 million - are expected to hit the Thoroughbred industry.

The study, commissioned by Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton and released Monday, reported that MRLS killed 5 percent of the state's 2001 Thoroughbred foal crop because of late-term abortions. As expected, the number of early fetal losses took a heavier toll, 31 percent of the foal crop, on foals that would have been born in 2002.

Mare reproductive loss syndrome caused 5,181 late- and early-term abortions in mares of all breeds, according to the study. Of those, 3,514 were Thoroughbreds. The study noted that MRLS losses affected breeders, who lost money invested in mares; stallion owners, who lost stud fee payments; boarding operations who stable mares and foals; sales-related businesses like consignment agencies and auction companies; and related businesses such as veterinary practices, farriers, and transport companies.