Are you familiar with the term « Big Data » ? Well, you should. Because it’s about to change how we practice veterinary medicine. Big Data is about analyzing information contained in huge databases in order to identify trends, risk factors, emerging problems… The bigger the database, the more powerful the model.
"Big Data" might also change how we see canine reproduction. I was attending to the Royal Canin International Breeding Conference in Paris 2 weeks ago. I was sitting next to my friend Aurélien, at the very far end of the auditorium, when the chairman announced the first topic of the day. The speaker was about to present data collected on… 204,537 puppies !?!?! I turned to Aurélien to have confirmation of what I just heard. Maybe I was still struggling with the jet-lag or my hearing difficulties were getting more pronounced... He smiled and nodded. « Yep, that’s what she said. Pretty powerful, isn’t it ? ». No kidding ! In canine repro, that’s simply unheard of.
I won’t be able to tell you all in this short blog, but here are what were, in my opinion, the 3 key messages dog breeders should hear.
#1 « On 100 bitches bred : 82% delivered, 8% aborted. »
Great boost of positivity, don’t you think ? We always say that fertility rates are excellent in the canine species. This powerful Big Data study makes it crystal clear : overall fertility rate above 80% !!! Many species would like to look that good, believe me ! For sure, there are « more complicated » cases that you guys can run into. However, this is reassuring : it proves us that in 2016, fertility is still very high in the canine species.
#2 « Best prolificacy (=number of puppies/litter) in bitches when bred between 2-6 years. »
We always say "don’t breed to early, but don’t breed too late ». What about putting clear brackets to that sentence ? Thanks again Big Data : when it comes to the breeding career, it should be started after 2, and stopped after 6 in most cases. They are still digging into the database so I hope soon they will be able to come up with the same brackets per size of dog, or even per breed. Just wait and see !
#3 « Highest abortion rate during summer. »
We all know that : when it comes to the reproductive cycle, there is no seasonality in the canine species. Bitches can cycle anytime during the year. However, that does not mean that the season has no effect on fertility parameters. Their analysis showed that higher abortion rates were observed during summertime, in a statistically significant manner (that is the scientific way of saying that statistics tell us this is not a coincidence). Sure, it does not tell us about the cause. But one can wonder… could what we call « heat stress » play a role ? We know that in mammals high temperatures have an impact on the maturation of oocytes, the sperm cells and on the development of embryos. Maybe we should give it some more thoughts before doing this « highly valuable breeding" during the warmest months of the year.
These were preliminary results that were presented, I am sure there will be more to come. Big Data changes the face of the world. Who would have thought it would change canine repro as well ?
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