UK Breeders Pull Plug On Equine Fertility Unit

Friday, 18th May 2007

In the UK, the Equine Fertility Unit (Newmarket's "world-renowned reproductive research facility") will be "closed down at the end of the year after the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association declined to apply to the Levy Board for a continuation of its core funding," reported racingpost.co.uk. TBA chairman Philip Freedman "was set to make a case showing the industry's continuing need for the EFU (which over the last 20 years, under the direction of Professor Twink Allen, "has been the primary force in dramatically increasing the fertility rate in thoroughbreds") at this week's monthly Levy Board meeting; but "when it became clear the unit would need an additional £150,000 (A$360,000) per year, on top of the £300,000 (A$720,000) previously requested, the TBA decided to pull the plug". Some members of the TBA council "have recently become disenchanted with the EFU due to the work it does involving artificial insemination & embryo transplant in non-thoroughbreds"; however Professor Allen "argues the work is commercial & has helped the unit to support itself, as well as significantly increasing its understanding of reproduction". The news "has been met with scathing reaction from Newmarket's veterinary community". David Dugdale (a partner at Greenwood, Ellis & Partners) declared: "It's an awful disgrace! The thoroughbred industry deserves a centre of excellence & Professor Allen has spent very many years building up a centre of excellence & it will be lost forever. The value of the industry is so huge, to think a fairly small amount of money couldn't be found is mind-boggling really. I feel we'll rue the day we allowed it to close." And Nick Wingfield Digby (managing partner at Rossdale & Partners veterinary surgery) added: "The EFU is a unique institution & there is nothing that can replace it as a centre of excellence in improving reproductive performance in horses. For Newmarket as the thoroughbred breeding centre of this country, it is a tragedy to lose this facility. The crucial development of control of the reproductive cycle & ultrasound has stemmed from Twink Allen & his workers."

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