04/21/2002 11:00PM

Weather advisory for Ky. farms

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Scientists at the University of Kentucky have issued a weather advisory to horse farm owners and managers for Monday night, due to predictions for near-freezing temperatures overnight.

Scientists have implicated last spring's alternating heat-and-freeze weather patterns as a risk factor for mare reproductive loss syndrome, the mysterious and still-unidentified disease that caused thousands of mares to abort and that may have caused other health problems in yearlings.

Citing forecasts for near-freezing temperatures tonight, UK researchers recommend that horsemen keep their horses, especially newly pregnant mares or those that are nearing their foaling dates, off pastures until noon Tuesday.

"The weather pattern leading up to tonight has many similarities to 2001, including a warm period followed by near-freezing temperatures forecast for this evening," the advisory said. "In contrast to 2001, the conditions are wetter, and the cool weather will come in more gradually. Therefore the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture is recommending that early and late pregnant mares should be kept off pasture until lunch on Tuesday, April 23."

Additional guidelines related to MRLS prevention are located at the UK College of Agriculture's website at www.uky.edu/Agriculture/VetScience/mrls/mrls_oct2001.htm