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Thesis: Selection of Finnhorse stallions for cryopreservation

From Theseus.fi

Isanta_vetokoe

Isäntä, photo by Hippos photo bank/Pirje Fager-Pintilä

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the extinction and preservation of the Finn horse. The breed is not yet endangered, but the researchers and breeders worry that the genetic material is narrowing (too fast). If we don’t act now, there might be problems in the future.

So far I know one Finn horse stallion whose semen has been frozen, Taikuri.

One option could be cryopreserving the genetic material. Saija Tenhunen and Tytti Salonpää from Savonia University of Applied Sciences made their thesis on the subject in 2016.

Abstract in English:

The goal of our thesis is to make a candidate list of stallions that could be chosen for cryopreservation. In our thesis we will research inbreeding coefficients, generation intervals and effective population size of Finnhorses born between 1960 and 2014. We will also research which stallions have had the biggest genetic contributions to the current population and which stallions might be the best candidates for cryopreservation by using the Optimal Contribution Selection (OCS) method. The stallion candidates should be healthy, fertile and represent the current population of Finnhorses. The genetic material in cryopreservation should reflect the genetic structure of the whole population in the best possible way.

In the data from the Finnish Trotting and Breeding Association there were 82 178 animals in total, but after processing the data there were 80 378 animals in total. The pedigree completeness index in five generations was 89.9 %. The inbreeding coefficient for the Finnhorses born in 2014 was on average 4.75 % and the generation interval was 13.56 years. The effective population size calculated for the whole population was 135.8 individuals. Stallions that had the biggest genetic contributions for the current Finnhorse population were Murto, Eri-Aaroni, Suikku, Vokker and Vieteri. We made three different stallion candidate lists: in the first list there were potential stallions born in the last generation (14 years), in the second list there were potential stallions born in the past 20 years and in the third list there were only potential studbook stallions.

We can conclude from our results that in Finnhorse breeding choices they have avoided inbreeding. From the year 1960 the average inbreeding coefficient in the Finnhorse population has increased 4 %, which can be partly explained by increased pedigree information over the years. From the effective population size, we can conclude that at the moment there is enough genetic variation in the population to survive with vitality in the short term (five generations). This breed might have problems surviving with vitality in the long term if the genetic diversity in the breed is ignored when making breeding choices. Ex-situ cryopreservation is the recommended solution for securing the vitality of the Finnhorse population in the future.

With the OCS method we got potential stallion candidates based on their pedigree information that were not in the studbook or in breeding use. However, this method does not include the major lines (trotter) in the choice. So we recommended choosing known trotter stud stallions from outside these candidate lists for cryopreservation. All Finnhorse colors were not included in the candidate lists. To secure phenotypical diversity in the breed, it would be a good option to collect semen from stallions that inherit these colors.

The stallions

Of course, the most interesting part of this thesis for the average horse breeder would be the list of stallions. Which ones they have picked, which stallion should I choose to help preserving the rarest blood lines, what can we do to help our beloved Finn horse the most?

Here you go. The links will take you to Sukuposti horse database.

List 1: Stallions under 14 years of age.

List 2: Stallions max 20 yo.

List 3: Studbook stallions

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Breeding statistics for Finnhorses 2014

From Astutustilastot 2014 (Hippos.fi)

Breeding sections

jalostussuunnat2014

Source: Hippos.fi

This graph shows how popular the four breeding sections were in 2014, based on the breeding section of the stallion.

Altogether 1505 Finnhorse mares were covered in 2014. The most popular section was the trotter (J) section with 1137 mares, (75,5%), then riding horse (R) with 233 mares, which is 15,5% of all mares, work horses (T) got 40 (2,7%) and pony-sized finnhorse stallions (P) got 49 mares, which is 3,3% of all.

Altogether 46 mares (3,1%) were taken to a stallion that hasn’t been shown and/or accepted to the studbook. These stallions represent a variety of breeding sections, but most often the owner either wants to use this stallion for his/her own mare(s), or has no interest in harness racing. These foals are registered as finnhorses, but unless the same owner owns both, the mare and the stallion, the foal doesn’t get to race in trotting races. Riding competitions, however, welcome everyone.

Most popular studs in 2014

1. Liising (150 mares (maximum))
2. Viesker (95)
3. Camri (75)
4. Frans (70)
5. Vixen (56)

See the list of full statistics here (altogether 188 stallions).


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More photos of the little one

They grow up so fast – this set of photos was taken on his birthday, 1st of June:

In these photos he is one week old, little prince charming (and his mommy who just loves to have her coat covered in that wellness-spa mud treatment all summer long…) :)


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Finn horse breeding statistics 2013

2-year-olds at Ypäjä. Photo by Terttu Peltonen

Doesn’t look too good. :(

There are a few stallions that are not yet included in this statistic, but it’s quite accurate and clearly shows that the numbers are much lower than earlier.

The age class of 2014 will be the smallest in 40 years. For the last years there have been about 1300 foals born every year but next year there will be less than 1000. The trend is the same in every breed, but the situation of the Finn horse is especially worrying since there are practically no other populations besides this one – it’s all we have.

Statistics for Finn horses 2013

• Down -18,5 % from the year 2012
• Altogether 1595 (1959 in 2012)
•  204 stallions (246 in 2012),  67 of which were bred for the first time.

Comparison of the four breeding sections
(2012 numbers in brackets)
• J-stallions 1261 (1492) -> 79 %
• R-stallions 197 (290) -> 12,4 %
• P-stallions 40 (71) -> 2,5 %
• T + Ta-stallions 29 (41) ->1,8 %
• Not studbook stallions 68 (81)-> 4,3 %

10 most popular studs

Stallion mares
Liising (J) 150
I.P. Lento (J) 82
Viesker (J) 67
Sipori (J) 63
Erikasson (J) 50
Franko (J) 48
Apassi (J) 44
Patrikin Muisto (J) 36
Turon Into (J) 35
Huiman Pyste (J) 34
Lars (J) 34

10 most popular R-studs

Stallion mares
Knuutilan Veikko 23
Ponuveikko 16
Voiveikko 15
Lastun Leka 11
Savelan Hemuli 10
Corleone 8
Harjun Kakkonen 7
Haavekuva 6
Hessin Leevi 6
Pikku-Jätkä 6
Veeran Taaveri 6

10 most popular P-studs

Stallion mares
Tintin Sahrami 7
Tuuvan Herpertti 6
Tintin Timjami 5
E.V. Jovankka 4
Villin Vilkeri 4
A.T. Ukko-Myrsky 3
Friisin Paletti 3
Rinkki 2
Jeppo 1
Pikku-Pistos 1
Ruubert 1

Most popular T- and Ta-studs

Stallion mares
Etupassi (Ta) 7
Nurmio (Ta) 6
Toja (T) 4
E.V. Johtotähti (Ta) 3
Aarteen Aprik (Ta) 2
Jaaritus (Ta) 2
Pirttilän Figo (Ta) 2
Kiripassi (RTa) 1
Vinkun Tohelo (T) 1

See all statistics (pdf)


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Suikku’s influence is undeniable

When talking about modern finnhorse pedigrees, Suikku is one of the names that pops up constantly. He was a good trotter of his time, fast, matured early, won big age-class races, made a successful career as a trotter with records 1.24,3a and 1.26,9 but was never crowned as a trotter king. Yet he managed to have a huge offspring of 1240 horses, one of the biggest ever, and his son Turo even beat that record with his 1249 foals offspring, so you could say these names are getting very common in modern finnhorse pedigrees.

Get to know the finnhorse -brochure wrote about Veijo Toivonen, who remembers Suikku well:

“Veijo Toivonen from Orimattila has made a remarkable career in collecting Finnhorse  information first as a reporter and as an active member of the trotting association, later on as a keeper of a stud station and publisher of the Horsebreeding book series.

‘Suikku, driven by Tuomo Mäkelä in the 1980’s  has probably been the most talented  Finnhorse stallion that has been a stud at  our place. It never won the king title, but it had bad luck. But the leading studs in the sire statistics, Turo and Hovi-Ari, are its descendants, as well as the super trotter Sipori  (1.19,4a) and three-time Trotting Queen I.P. Sukkula. The sire line of Suikku comes from the star of the 1920’s and 1930s, Murto.  Murto and its son Eri-Aaroni have been the most influential individuals in the Finnhorse  breed. Nowadays their names appear in the family trees of nearly every Finnhorse.”

See photos of Suikku at Sukuposti gallery

Vekku-Lento
555-74J Valio
tprt 156 cm s. 1971† FIN
26,7aly-28,2ly
sh
Vekkuli Jo 101 P
prt 157 cm s. 1964 FIN
25,7aly-29,0ly
sh
Vesseli 6440
29,7a-31,4 tprt s. 1956 FIN
Eri-Ote 5462 32,7 tprt s. 1947
Lissu 18673 vprt
Pelho 100053 Valio
29,6ake rt s. 1953 FIN
Mutri 5360 32,9 prt s. 1943
Ullo 16904 klrt s. 1945†
Mutrin-Lento Jt 57
prt 157 cm s. 1956 FIN
25,2aly-epav23,8
sh
Mutri 5360
32,9 prt s. 1943 FIN
Murti 3582 29,7 prt s. 1933
Pääsky (prt 156cm) prt s. 1934
Tuju 17405
39,9 klrt s. 1946 FIN
Loistu 4291 Valio 31,1a vrt s. 1940
Malta 10984 prt s. 1934†
Aritar
101057 Vj
prt 160 cm s. 1960† FIN
40,2
sh
Ari yh 1054
klrt 155 cm s. 1947 FIN
29,4-epav28,8
sh
Eri yh 664
27,8 tprt s. 1938 FIN
Eri-Aaroni 3423 Valio 27,8ke trt s. 1932†
Hölkki 2738-III
Samu 52643
35,4 s. 1939 FIN
Vihu 3402 30,6 trt s. 1932
Ata 52341 AA prt s. 1934†
Suhina 18767
trt 164 cm s. 1948† FIN
27,1
sh
Akapeetus yh 750
25,3 tprt s. 1942 FIN
Lohdutus yh 232 Valio 28,3 prt s. 1929†
Haukan-Muisto 10728 58,3 prt s. 1937
Askel 50273
42,5 prt s. 1935 FIN
Askeleen-Valssi 3103 39,8 trt s. 1928
Erakon-Vauhti 1536-V 47,0 rt s. 1921

Ten fastest descendants of Suikku:

Born g Name Reg.number Height Records Winnings Photos Dam
1996 FIN s Sipori 1738-96J 161 cm 19,4aly-23,2ly 195 407 EUR 10 kpl Eri-Marina 1910-76J Valio
1997 FIN s Yöjuttu 1586-97J 155 cm 22,2aly-24,2ly 47 368 EUR 10 kpl Aamu-Siru 1194-88J
1988 FIN s Suikun Ero 1367-88J 161 cm 22,2aly-25,6ke 97 271 EUR 10 kpl Eron-Veti 1609-80J Valio
1991 FIN s Valokuva 1742-91J 157 cm 22,5aly-23,1ly 136 407 EUR 12 kpl Kihin-Kuva 1836-85
1989 FIN s S. Sälli 2170-89J 157 cm 22,6aly-25,3ke 77 889 EUR 8 kpl Varvin Vappu 3020-84
1994 FIN s Suikun Ralli 2290-94J 159 cm 22,6ake-24,4ke 126 189 EUR 11 kpl Silkki 2145-84P
2004 FIN s Suivikas 2023-04J 160 cm 22,8aly-24,1ke 79 669 EUR
(30.9.2012)
11 kpl Vinokas 1661-98
1988 FIN s Poika-Vinkkeli 1556-88J 154 cm 23,0aly-23,1ly 70 016 EUR 5 kpl Nynny 1381-82J Valio
1988† FIN m I.P. Sukkula 1114-88J 162 cm 23,2aly-25,7ke 240 258 EUR 12 kpl Ilta-Posti 906-71J Valio
1991† FIN s Hovi-Ari 1759-91J Valio 161 cm 23,3aly-24,0ly 51 009 EUR 8 kpl Marilla 445-72J Valio

Ten richest descendants of Suikku (to date):

Born Maa G Name Reg.number Height Records Winnings Photos Dam
1988† FIN m I.P. Sukkula 1114-88J 162 cm 23,2aly-25,7ke 240 258 EUR 12 kpl Ilta-Posti 906-71J Valio
1996 FIN s Sipori 1738-96J 161 cm 19,4aly-23,2ly 195 407 EUR 10 kpl Eri-Marina 1910-76J Valio
1991 FIN s Valokuva 1742-91J 157 cm 22,5aly-23,1ly 136 407 EUR 12 kpl Kihin-Kuva 1836-85
1994 FIN s Suikun Ralli 2290-94J 159 cm 22,6ake-24,4ke 126 189 EUR 11 kpl Silkki 2145-84P
1992† FIN g Pilven Humu 1739-92 23,5aly-23,0ly 105 849 EUR 7 kpl Elotar 1985-78J
1984† FIN s Turo 2577-84J Valio 157 cm 23,8aly-25,1ly 98 137 EUR 13 kpl Marine 2184-76J Valio
1988 FIN s Suikun Ero 1367-88J 161 cm 22,2aly-25,6ke 97 271 EUR 10 kpl Eron-Veti 1609-80J Valio
2004 FIN s Suikun Rilla 2143-04J 163 cm 23,4ake-23,7ke 84 614 EUR
(30.9.2012)
19 kpl Nasatar 1538-95
2004 FIN s Suivikas 2023-04J 160 cm 22,8aly-24,1ke 79 669 EUR
(30.9.2012)
11 kpl Vinokas 1661-98
1989 FIN s S. Sälli 2170-89J 157 cm 22,6aly-25,3ke 77 889 EUR 8 kpl Varvin Vappu 3020-84

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