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Equine Education and Research Cluster
The Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Kentucky operates a 100+ acre horse unit for teaching and research. The horse unit is located about six miles from the University of Kentucky campus on a portion of Maine Chance Farm in northern Fayette County. Maine Chance Farm was purchased by the University of Kentucky in the 1960’s and it is currently an important part of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station. In addition to the horse unit operated by the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, many other agriculturally-related research programs are located at Maine Chance Farm and its neighboring farm, Spindletop.
The horse unit operated by the Department of Animal and Food Sciences includes several barns and more than 25 pastures/paddocks of various sizes. The farm routinely maintains about 100 horses, depending upon season and research needs. The farm is operated by three full time staff and a number of student workers.
A recent addition to the farm is a large teaching pavilion that can be used for on-farm teaching activities or other events. The pavilion is not climate controlled but provides a protected environment for class demonstrations of horse management practices and conformation evaluation. In addition, the pavilion is sometimes used for extension and outreach activities.
The nutrition barn
The nutrition barn contains 12 partially covered, individual pens. Each pen is 12 feet wide and 48 feet long and is equipped with an automatic waterer. The pens easily accommodate mature horses, growing horses and mare/foal pairs. The Nutrition Barn is used for feeding individual horses without imposing box stall confinement. It is well suited to studying the effects of dietary changes on growing horses, exercising horses and broodmares. The Nutrition Barn is adjacent to a 60-foot round pen and six-horse euro-style exerciser.
Barn 3 was one of the original barns on Maine Chance Farm. Originally designed as a training barn for race horses, it is entirely enclosed and contains 18 box stalls in a back-to-back configuration with a tanbark walking area around the outside. The Training Barn includes a feed room, a small laboratory and a restraint stock. Six stalls in the Training Barn are equipped with automatic grain feeders and have rubber mat flooring. These stalls are useful for studies on digestibility, palatability and feeding behavior.
This barn was recently remodeled and contains 10 large box stalls with rubber-mat floors that are excellent for a variety of research needs. The barn also includes two feed/equipment rooms, two sets of breeding stocks and a large laboratory/work area. This barn can be used to house mares and foals, yearlings or mature horses.
The Main Barn:
The Main Barn area includes two separate structures. The bigger barn has seven large foaling stalls, a breeding shed, a feed room and an office. The smaller barn has four box stalls. The Main Barn area is adjacent to 12 paddocks of various sizes. Several of the paddocks have run-in sheds.
Laboratory Facilities and Equipment
Most laboratory facilities at the research farm are used for initial sample handling. The majority of the sample analyses occur in laboratories in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. The Department of Animal Sciences has modern facilities and equipment for conducting a large variety of analytical procedures including: gas chromatography, HPLC, atomic absorption spectrophotometry, automated nitrogen analysis, automated ADF/NDF analysis, automated chemistry analysis (free fatty acids, triglycerides, creatine kinase, total protein, etc), automated glucose/lactate analysis, in vitro incubations, etc.
The core herd consists of eight to 12 mature geldings (primarily thoroughbreds), 25-30 broodmares (Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses), their foals, and two Quarter Horse stallions. The University of Kentucky does not operate a riding program, and all horses are maintained for research and teaching purposes. Foals produced on the farm are progeny of stallions maintained on the farm or of area stallions. Foals are sold as weanlings or yearlings through public auction or private sale and are an important source of income for recurring costs on the farm (feed, health care, maintenance, etc). Questions about the availability of horses for purchase can be directed to Laurie Lawrence, Ph.D.; 859-257-7509.