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HomeFarming NewsHurley uses cattle genetics knowledge to create blueprint for equines
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Hurley uses cattle genetics knowledge to create blueprint for equines

Teagasc has launched a new book entitled Genetics and Breeding of Irish Horses.

The author of the book, which the state agency released last Friday (January 7th, 2022), is Dr Alan Hurley, Teagasc equine specialist.

According to Teagasc, the thoroughbred sector and the sport horse sector “dominate” Ireland’s equine industry.

The annual economic value of the Irish thoroughbred breeding and racing industries are valued at €1.84 billion.

Teagasc estimates that the Irish sport horse sector is worth in the region of €816 million to the economy.

A significant part of both industries is breeding. Teagasc is one of the main providers of full-time education, lifelong learning and advice to growing cohorts of equine breeders, producers and riders.

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Book on horses

Dr Alan Hurley, Teagasc equine specialist, and author of the book remarked:

“Significant genetic advances can be achieved in the coming years if an optimal approach is implemented.”

“This will require significant acceptance from breeders and industry both in terms of recording data and implementation of available resources.”

Teagasc director, Professor Frank O’Mara, commented:

“The equine industry is a growing, vibrant and diverse one which contributes substantially to the overall economy.”

“This book highlights the importance of equine genetics and breeding for the industry as a whole.”

He added that the publication stresses the importance of selectivity and using the best males and females, to genetically improve a population, in a “certain” direction, based on a predefined goal.

Breeding programme 

Meanwhile, Professor Donagh Berry, Teagasc and VistaMilk, believes luck is the “key ingredient” to breeding a successful animal.

A well-structured breeding programme, however, he pointed out, improves the mean performance of the population as well as increases the chances of breeding that successful animal.

“Using his education on cattle genetics, Alan has elegantly and succinctly compiled the key components and blueprint of a successful breeding programme in horses.”

Equine genetic improvement

He has designed the book to educate those interested in equine studies.

It outlines several aspects of equine genetics and breeding. Besides, it illustrates how breeders can improve the genetic merit of Irish horses backed by science.

The book aims to be a blueprint for equine genetic improvement.

Hurley describes the terms animal breeders commonly use to describe the characteristics of a population in an easy to understand format.

Furthermore, his objective is to educate breeders to use available resources to make more informed breeding decisions.

Teagasc views this as an “essential” book for horse breeders and owners, students enrolled in equine, animal breeding and veterinary science courses, who want to learn more about equine breeding and genetics.

You can view the book online.

Other equine-related articles on That’s Farming:

Department extends equine census deadline due to ‘technical difficulties’

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