Victorian authorities have dismissed reports that a spate of foal abortions have been caused by the poisonous hairy caterpillar. A Kyneton based breeder has lost seven (non thoroughbred) foals this spring after an influx of the caterpillars.
Victorian Department of Primary Industries animal health manager Tony Britt described the problem as sporadic but significant for those affected.
“Abortion in mares is not uncommon and there can be a range of possible causes including infection,” Britt said. “But in terms of this being a widespread problem, it hasn’t come to the attention of the department.”
Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria president Tim Johnson is also unaware of any thoroughbred farms being affected. Kyneton is less than 100km from Victoria’s major breeding region in the Strathbogie Shire.
Dr Britt urged concerned breeders to liaise with their vet but rejected comparisons to the Eastern Tent caterpillar that led to Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS) in Kentucky in 2002. The outbreak caused a 30% loss of that year’s foal crop.