The pathology and epidemiology of equine pregnancy loss


The project will develop a system to investigate and record the pathology of mid to late term pregnancy losses in Thoroughbred mares throughout Australia. The frequency, pathology, different causes and risk factors for equine pregnancy loss in Australia will be determined by this project. The results of this project will be used to develop management strategies to reduce risk of pregnancy loss and to guide further research into the causes and prevention of pregnancy loss. Diagnostic criteria will be developed for all known causes of pregnancy loss and a standardised procedure will be described to investigate all losses. This will allow the development of online written, verbal and video training tools in the techniques for post mortem and histopathological examination of the foetus and foetal membranes. These tools will assist veterinarians and pathologists to thoroughly investigate equine pregnancy losses. The initial 6 months will be used to develop the standardised protocols and define the diagnostic criteria. The protocols will be validated using a selected representative group of mares in NSW, Victoria, QLD and WA. The participating stud farms will provide all aborted foetal tissue and membranes and information about the number of pregnant mares as well as the outcome of all the pregnancies. The information obtained and the protocols developed will provide the industry with the tools required to be able to support the investigation all pregnancy losses in thoroughbred mares throughout Australia.


Thoroughbred Horses

Research Organisation

Charles Sturt University

Objective Summary

On completion of this project the causes, regional distribution and risk factors for equine pregnancy loss in Australia will be known. This will allow the industry to develop strategies to reduce the number of mares that fail to produce a foal each year and will provide training tools for veterinarians and pathologist to improve the diagnostic accuracy of pregnancy loss investigations. Major Objectives: 1. Develop and validate case definitions for the major causes of pregnancy loss in Australia 2. Determine the number of mid to late term pregnancy losses that occur in Australian Thoroughbred mares. 3. Describe the pathology associated with mid to late term pregnancy loss in Australian Thoroughbred mares. 4. Determine the risk factors associated with the major causes of mid to late term pregnancy loss in Australia 5. Develop online training tools for veterinarians in the post mortem examination of the foetus and foetal membranes 6. Develop online guide for veterinary pathologists to the gross and histopathology of the major causes of equine pregnancy loss

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Project Completion Date

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

National Priority

Adoption of R&D

National Priority

HOR-Improve breeding outcomes and foal health and development