May 23, 2001 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Scientists are working diligently to solve the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome that has shocked the Bluegrass region in recent weeks. Horse owners, breeders and farm managers can help in the scientific process by submitting samples of hay, feed, manure and colostrum.

Producers should gather samples of first-cutting, Kentucky-raised hay harvested before May 5, 2001. These samples should be brought or sent to the University of Kentucky Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, room 108, Lexington, KY 40546-0099; attention Dr. Tobin.

"These hay samples may allow scientists to better establish a snapshot of mycotoxin levels," said Carla G. Craycraft, director of UK Agricultural Communications. "At this time, the investigative teams do not know if or how first-cutting hay is involved, but the hay samples will be used to quantify pasture analyses at the suspect time of the primary insult."

For farms submitting hay, UK prefers core hay samples from about 20 separate bales or rolls, mixed and placed in a paper bag. Please allow air circulation of the sample, so molding will not occur. Mixed grass/legume hay samples are preferred. Please identify each composite sample with the date baled, county of origin and your farm contact information.

Dr. Tobin also is requesting samples of mare colostrum, from either MRLS mares or normal mares, collected between April 17 and present. If you have samples you're willing to share with the Gluck center, please call (859) 257-3739.

The UK Disease and Diagnostic Lab is requesting Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners veterinarians to submit feed concentrate and manure samples for mares with both normal deliveries and MRLS. These samples should be frozen and delivered to the lab to the attention of Dr. Kyle Newman.

"The reason for the feed concentrate sampling is NOT for mycotoxin sampling," Craycraft said. "The scientific teams are looking for evidence to better understand why numerous mares did not experience MRLS. Feed concentrate may hold a partial answer."

Craycraft emphasized that feed concentrate or purchased feed sources are not suspected as the primary cause of MRLS.

All information and samples from farms and/or individuals will remain confidential as part of the scientific study.

The UK College of Agriculture has established a central call-in telephone number for questions about MRLS from media, horse farm owners and managers, and others with comments or ideas. That number is UKY-257-MARE (859-257-6273).


Carla G. Craycraft 859-257-4736