Study: South African Swine Vaccine Can Limit Castration Complications 

Surgical castration of intact male horses is common throughout the world, but the routine surgery isn’t always complication-free. A South African study led by Dr. John Birrell investigated the use of a GnRH vaccine (sold under the name Improvac by Zoetis in South Africa) prior to castrating 19 colts. The study sought to determine if the vaccine could reduce testis size and therefore minimize the risk of surgical complications.

GnRH is an immunocontraception vaccination – it’s a birth control that uses an animal’s immune system to mount a response against the reproductive process.

The colts were divided into three groups. Two groups received the GnRH vaccine and were castrated 57 and 100 days after receiving the two-part vaccine while the third group acted as a control. The testis of each horse was measured for length, width and height on days 0, 28 and 57 or 100 depending on when the horse was gelded. The horses were also monitored for 10 days after the surgery for complications like swelling, surgical site discharge and depression. The horses also had both their testosterone concentrations and anti-GnRH titers measured. 

The GnRH vaccinated colts had no fevers, swelling or lameness after vaccine administration. They also had a decline in testosterone levels after the first vaccination; testosterone was undetectable 28 days after the second dose. The vaccinated horses had a 50 percent reduction in testicular volume prior to castration and they also had no post-surgical complications. 

The study team concluded that GnRH vaccine administration reduced testicular size and was helpful in controlling post-surgical complications. They noted that the GnRH vaccine could be used to control undesired behavior in stallions. 

Read more at EquiManagement

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