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Basque Country horses

This press release is also available in Spanish.

Seven years ago a number of breeders' groups showed interest in the genetic analysis of the autochthonous breeds of horse from the Basque Country. Thus, at the Department of Genetics, Physical Anthropology and Animal Physiology of the University of the Basque Country (EHU-UPV), sheep, cows and horses native to Euskal Herria were studied. The aim of this livestock study was to find out the state of conservation of these breeds and also to identify the animals. What is more, thanks to the work of the farmhouses, these native breeds have conserved much of their original characteristics.

In the case of horses, four breeds were studied: the pottokas, the Basque mountain pony, the Jaca Navarra and the Burguete breed. Three genetic markers were used for the analysis.

Paternity and variability

First the genetic variability of these livestock breeds was analysed to see if the native animals had sufficient variability in the face of possible diseases. To this end, microsatellites were selected regions of DNA with specific features as primary markers.

Microsatellites moreover, are highly useful for identification. With these, the equivalent of a fingerprint can be compiled for each horse; that is to say, they can be used to identify both the mother and the father with 90 % accuracy.

417 animals were analysed in all: 147 pottokas, 163 Basque mountain ponies, 62 Jacas Navarras and 45 of the Burguete horse breed. Two of these breeds are heavy or given over to meat production (Jaca Navarra and Burguete); on the other hand, the other two are considered to be lightweight breeds.

According to the results, the two breeds for meat production are crossed with foreign breeds in order to increase their size and weight; particularly, stallions from outside have been used. So, one can obser
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Contact: Garazi Andonegi
garazi@elhuyar.com
34-943-363-040
Elhuyar Fundazioa
7-Mar-2006


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