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Optimizing the tracking of gestation in the equine industry: An analysis of the links between the pH and chemical composition of mare's milk and the onset of parturition

Apgar-Arpin, Alexandra N.
Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study was to determine if pH is a viable and cost effective factor to use in the prediction of parturition in mares.
Background: The tracking of pH levels is a promising indicator of the onset of parturition in mares. As this study was performed on only one mare, more data will need to be collected from a larger sample size in order to know if this would be a cost effective predictor of parturition in mares.
Methods: The milk from a brood mare was collected, tested, and compared using an inexpensive over-the-counter pH test strip, a pH meter, and a Redox SYS oxidative-reductive testing machine. The samples were taken using sterile techniques, while trying to control for as many variables as possible, in order to obtain better comparative data. The samples also were tested for ORP and calcium hardness concentrations.
Results: There was a strong correlation (r=0.9187) at (P<0.01) and a significant P value of 0.000024 found between the pH testing methods utilized in this study. Furthermore, there was a consistency of calcium hardness concentrations prior to parturition, followed by a significant spike in those values at the time of parturition and continuing after the event.
Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that mare milk pH does drop prior to parturition and could be a reliable indicator of parturition occurring within 24-48 hours of such noted drops even when tested with the over-the-counter pH strips. Testing with such over-the-counter pH strips would make tracking such drops cost effective in production settings.