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Growth Hormone Has No Effect
On The Growth of Foals

WRITTEN BY: RIRDC Equine Research News   [December 2001]

Equine somatotropin (eST) or as it is commonly known ‘growth hormone’ is sometimes given to young horses in the belief that it will produce bigger foals and possibly better performing adult horses. A recent study has concluded that this is not the case.

A group of foals were treated daily with eST for 12 months and an equal number of foals were used as the control group. Foals were paired by sex, type and lineage and one of each pair received the eST treatment.

There was no difference between each group for body weight, height, length, width of chest and rump, heart girth, length of head, front and rear cannon circumference, gaskin circumference or skin thickness. There was a significant difference in a number of hormonal and metabolic characteristics known to be affected by eST but these had no influence on the growth characteristics of the foals. The study concludes that administration of daily eST to foals for 12 months has no effect, either advantageous or detrimental, on the growth and development of these animals.

Reference: EL Capshaw, DL Thompson, Jr, KM Kulinski, C A Johnson and DD French Daily Treatment of Horses with Equine Somatotropin from 4 to 16 Months of Age (2001, Journal of Animal Science Vol. 79, No. 12, Pg. 3137

Reprinted from the RIRDC Equine Research News with the permission of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

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