Usefulness of Selected Incisor Characteristics for Determining the Age of Hucul Horses
The aim of this study was to assess the suitability of selected characteristics of incisors for age determination in Hucul horses. The study included 173 Hucul horses (137 mares, 28 stallions and 8 geldings) from one day to 27 years of age. Breeding documentation was used to determine the actual age of the horses, which were then divided into age groups. Each group of horses was assigned a specific incisor characteristic to help identify their age. Selected incisor characteristics were used to evaluate the age of the horses according to the method reported by Pruski (2007) and the results were compared with the actual age, indicating the percentage of errors made. It was found that most errors were made in the case of horses over 11 years old, when assessing the changing shape of the occlusal surface of incisors (Table 1). In this group the percentage of errors was significantly higher (P≤0.01) than that found for horses from the first three youngest age groups, in which the eruption time of deciduous incisors, the disappearance of cups on deciduous incisors and the eruption time of permanent incisors were taken into account. Compared to the above traits, errors were made significantly more often (P≤0.01) when age was determined based on the disappearance of permanent incisors, in a group of horses aged between 6 and 11 years. The eruption time of deciduous incisors and permanent incisors were the traits which enabled the most accurate determination of the horses' age. The results obtained suggest that age determination based on dentition is not accurate enough and can only play a subsidiary role, for example when no breeding records are available.
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