Tuesday, November 3, 2020

theHorse: Mare Vocalization Associated With Foal Survival

A feral mare grazes at Shackleford Banks. Photo credit below.


Turns out, according to new research, that feral foals whose mamas talk to them the most have the best chance of surviving.

"The researchers noted a direct link between mare-initiated communication—primarily snorts—and foal survival..."

It's an interesting study that looked at feral horse herds in the Shackleford Banks off the coast of North Carolina. Over 3,000 observation hours were logged. 

A startling fact is that during the three years of their study, nearly 30% of the foals didn't live past a year old. According to research assistant professor Cassandra M. Nuñez, PhD (of the University of Memphis's Department of Biological Sciences in Tennessee),

"Foals whose dams initiated communication the most during the first 10 weeks of life were more likely to live to 1 year of age than foals whose dams communicated less."

They also found that mares and foals continued to communicate well after the foals were six months old, something modern breeding practices cut off by separating mares and foals. The researchers raised the question about current weaning practices, in light of their findings.

Read the full article here, on theHorse.com.

Photo: Bonnie Gruenberg, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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