Equine Health Update Issue 1 Volume 16 - Page 17

Blue light from individual light masks directed at a single eye advances the breeding season in mares B. A. MURPHY*, C. M. WALSH, E. M. WOODWARD†, R. L. PRENDERGAST‡, J. P. RYLE‡, L. H. FALLON§ and M. H. T. TROEDSSON† School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Ireland †The Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, University of Kentucky, USA ‡School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering, University College Dublin, Ireland §Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Kentucky, USA. *Correspondence email: barbara.murphy@ucd.ie; Keywords: horse; melatonin; seasonality; progesterone; light mask; blue light Summary Reasons for performing study: Artificial lighting is commonly used to advance the breeding season in horses. Light masks have been developed that direct light at a single eye to inhibit the production of melatonin, the decoder of photoperiod for seasonally breeding animals. Objectives To investigate whether low-intensity blue light from light masks was effective at advancing the breeding season in mares. Study design: Controlled experiment Methods: Data on reproductive activity was collected from 3 groups of mares maintained on Kentucky horse farms under various lighting conditions between 20 November 2011 and 10 February 2012: 59 nonpregnant, healthy Thoroughbred mares were used. On 1 December 2011, Group 1 (n = 16) was housed indoors under barn lighting (250 Lux) until 23.00 h daily. Group 2 (n = 25) wore light masks programmed to turn on from 16.30 h until 23.00 h daily and was maintained outdoors. Group 3 (n = 19) was maintained outdoors under the natural photoperiod as control. At 2-week intervals, rectal ultrasound examinations were performed and blood was collected for progesterone anal