ELISA Blood Test for Equine Pregnancy Tracking Available

Horsemen have a new option when checking mares for pregnancy this breeding season. Biotracking, a company created by Garth Sasser, PhD, a professor of animal science at the University of Idaho, came up with a blood test for ruminants (BioPRYN) a few years ago. Now BioPRYNes, an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test that detects estrone sulfate molecules in blood, is available for horses.

The blood test has high accuracy when used between 70 days post breeding and two weeks before foaling.

Scott Jaques, MS, PhD, head of Diagnostic Endocrinology at Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (Texas A&M), a lab that uses Biotracking's services, said using a blood test is more accurate than palpation and safer for the animal.

"Trauma that can occur with palpation, especially in mares (if you tear the rectum) can be life-threatening," Jaques said. "Ultrasound is good, but you need the equipment and electricity (which can be challenging in some ambulatory situations). For the blood test all you need is a needle and collection syringe."

Dane Petty, DVM, a private practitioner in Cumby, Texas, said he likes the blood test because it is easier on the mare and the people checking her.

"You might cause injury with palpation if the mare is jumping around or if you must feel around very much to determine if they're pregnant," Petty said. "A blood test is much safer."

Jeremy Howard, sales manager at Biotracking, said the blood test can also be used for routine monitoring of a pregnancy to check the viability of the fetus. If the plasma level of estrone sulfate drops, it could indicate the fetus is stressed or dead. For more information on BioPRYNes, see the Biotracking Web site.  

About the Author

Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey's Guide to Raising Horses and Storey's Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog, www.heathersmiththomas.blogspot.com, she writes a biweekly blog at http://insidestorey.blogspot.com that comes out on Tuesdays.

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