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It's all about the only native Finnish horse breed!

Finnish work horse is endangered

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MTT: Säilytysohjelmat eri roduilla (mtt.fi)

Säilytysohjelmat: suomenhevonen (mtt.fi)

Photo: Mari Laulumaa-Hirvonen

Finns have been keeping domestic animals for about 4 000 years. In the process of time the cows, horses, sheep, pigs and the fowl have adapted to arctic climate. These animals are often not as productive as highly selectively bred animals, and this has led to extinction of some domestic breeds, for example the Finnish pig is already extinct

Information about populations and genetic material of different species can be found in EFABIS (European Farm Animal Biodeversity Information System) database, which is connected to FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) DAD-IS-database.

FAO:s classification for endangerement:

  • Extinct
  • Critically endangered: there are less than 100 breeding females or less than five breeding males or population is below 120 and less than 80% of the population is purebred.
  • Endangered: there are less than 1000 breeding females, less than 20 breeding males or population is 80-100, population is growing and more than 80% of population is purebred, or population is 1000-1200 and population is decreasing in number and less than 80% is purebred.
  • Not endangered: more than 1000 breeding females and more than 20 breeding males or population is over 1200 and growing.

So FAO classifies the Finnish work horse (T, työhevonen) to endangered animals, since there are only about 500 finnhorses in work use, but not the finnhorse in general. Finnhorses’ population dropped about 95% during the 1950s to 1980s, the whole population is nowadays around 20 000. The pedigrees are narrowing down in increasing speed, mostly because of trotter breeding. There are more differences in riding- and pony-sized horses’ pedigrees, but the pedigrees have not yet differentiated much.

The most important issue to finnhorses in general is to grow their demand and usage, by finding more positive and supporting solutions in horse sport, travel and special working projects.It is common to freeze studs’ sperm during the breeding process, but so far the gene bank has stored sperm from only a few stallions.

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