Inbreeding

 

Inbreeding

Inbreeding is the process of mating animals which are closely related

 
Lusitano-031Inbreeding in horses and other livestock is the process of mating animals which are closely related.   Examples of inbreeding in horses are, mating the father with his daughter, mother with her son, brother with his sister.   The purpose of horse inbreeding is to transfer positive traits from the parents to the offspring.   Keep in mind that negative traits can also be passed on.
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Lusitano-033Homozygous genes are genes where identical alleles are present in both chromosome chains. Homozygous genes are passed from generation to generation within a horse breed which makes up for the specific characteristics by which a horse breed is recognized.   A homozygous-dominant trait or characteristic is one the shadows or overcomes the homozygous-recessive trait.   Mind you, both negative and positive homozygous traits may be passed from the parents to the offspring.
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Lusitano-020The point of horse inbreeding is to establish and maintain in the foal positive traits and characteristics the parents have.   This includes physical, temperamental traits, abilities and characteristics that make the parents excel in competitions and looks.   Inbreeding has positive and negative results.   This is why care must be taken when choosing the stallion which will be used to inseminate your mare.
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Lusitano-049The positive effects of horse inbreeding include the permanent establishments of good traits in the foal which will be passed on to the future generations.   Recessive homozygous become dominant and the specific characteristic will not only remain but it will also be noticeable in the foal and its future off springs.   This is one of the reasons why stud books and records are kept and constantly updated.   Breeders can chose the characteristics they would like their new horses to have and be able to find a stallion with these characteristics to breed with his mare.
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Lusitano-037The negative results of inbreeding in horses for one, is that the recessive genes that come together and become dominant are not only the good ones but the bad ones too.   Negative characteristics that are present in the parents as recessive genes come together in the offspring and become dominant.   These negative characteristics may not show in the foal but may emerge as the horse grows and develops; these include physical, character and behavioral traits.
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Lusitano-028Constant horse inbreeding also produces a decline in physical fitness, fertility, and viability.   It sometimes slows the early growth rate of the foal too.   It also reduces the availability of new genes in the breed’s gene pool.   This may lead to lower resistance and antibodies against disease, inheritance of organ deformities or problems and other weaknesses the parents may have.
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Lusitano-039Phenotypes are genes which originate from environmental conditions in which the horse lives.   Examples of this may be larger lung capacity produced by many generations of the same family living in high altitude country.   Longer, stronger legs which may be a product of having to travel long distances for food and water in relatively flat country or shorter legs so the horse can climb hills and mountains.   Long hair is a characteristic of animals bred in areas with long, harsh winters while short hair is related to mild winters.
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Lusitano-064Excessive inbreeding of horses with the same phenotype genes will produce horses in which these characteristics are dominant.   If the offspring for some reason is taken from this environment to a completely different one, its adaptation and growth may be hampered.   An example of this can be taking a desert horse from his natural habitat and moving him say to, Nebraska where the winter is long and sometimes very cold.   In this case he will have to adapt to the change and while he does he will have to be kept in a heated stable, and his diet will have to be changed gradually, etc.
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Lusitano-065Today genetic engineering and testing have had huge advance in their studies of inheritance and gene pools and their effects and consequences.   It is now possible to test the stallion and mare to come up with a very reliable conclusion of what you will get when inbreeding this horse with that one.   Horse inbreeding can also make the off springs susceptible to disease and other abnormalities, testing these possibilities is easy.   All you need is to pull some hairs from your horse’s main to have them analyzed.   More complicated and deep examination is done by a veterinarian in a specialized laboratory through blood samples.   The results are basically the same.   Even with tests, there is always the chance of transferring and setting negative traits and characteristics to the off spring.   It is and will always be the risk you must take to produce perfect Lusitanos.
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