Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Animal Diseases

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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953. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a society (details supplied) only accepts testing by one organisation for hoof wall separation disease, HWSD, on its database; if this has been approved by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3320/20]

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Hoof Wall Separation Disease (HWSD) is caused by a genetic defect that appears to occur only in the Connemara pony breed and the carrier frequency has been estimated to be about 14.8%.  For a foal to be affected by the disease, both sire and dam must be carriers.

The Connemara Pony Breeders Society (CPBS) has been approved by my Department to maintain the Studbook for Connemara Ponies and in this regard operate a breeding programme for the breed.

Research carried out by the Connemara Pony Breeders Society, in conjunction with Weatherbys, has enabled them to test for the presence of the HWSD gene. My Department has allocated funding to the Connemara Pony Breeders Society under the Equine Infrastructures Scheme since 2015 to facilitate this project.

The results from this project will enable the Society to plan for the future and implement a strategy to manage this genetic defect identifying potential carriers.  This should decrease the incidence of the disease with a view to eliminating it for the Connemara pony population.

The CPBS has informed me that it will be accepting HWSD results from recognised organisations other than Weatherby’s Scientific in 2020.  They are currently finalising procedures to implement this system.  This was approved by the CPBS council in late 2019. The results will be recorded as a private test on the pony profile on the CPBS online database. Information, once available, will be posted on the CPBS website.


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