Fell pony owners may need to have their ponies DNA tested. Below is more information on how to do this.
Many owners have already submitted samples on all Fell ponies, including all foals and imports, as part of Dr. Gus Cothran's ongoing multi-breed equine research program which began in 2000 at the University of Kentucky and is continuing now at Texas A&M University.
DNA Typing with parentage verification is also required for FPS registration if foals are conceived by artificial insemination, as well as for stallion licensing.
The current cost for DNA Typing (including parentage verification) is $25. Pulled hair samples can be obtained from the mane or tail. It is important to pull the sample rather than cut it, because the DNA is obtained from the root bulb at the base of the hair shaft. 35 hairs (with root bulbs) usually suffice. In newborn or young foals, it is often easier to pull hair from the dock of the tail rather than the mane. Registration information and parentage should be written on a sheet of paper, with hairs taped (not over root) to the bottom of that sheet, and then fold and mail the sheet in an envelope with payment to address below. Please make check payable to Texas Agrilife Research - VTAN. If Dr. Cothran has DNA of parents also on file, parentage testing will routinely be done on the sample as well.
Animal Genetics Lab
Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4458
DNA Typing does not including specific DNA testing for Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or "FIS" -- a rare, lethal recessive genetic disorder occasionally found in newborn Fell Pony and Dales Pony foals. (This mutation has reportedly also recently been documented in "Coloured Ponies" (a.k.a. Gypsy Cobs, Gypsy horses or Gypsy Vanners), which commonly have Fell or Dales ancestry. See Horse Trust article below.) The FIS Test, which first became available in 2010, is currently performed at the Animal Health Trust in the UK. (Please see AHT's website for further information.) FIS Test Kits are available from FPS (UK). The current cost of the kit is 40 pounds sterling. For 2011-2013, the cost of kits for both newly licensed stallions as well as affected foals is being refunded by FPS. As of January 1, 2014, proof of FIS-testing will be required for stallion licensing, although (as with all FIS testing) the results remain confidential to the stallion owner.
Note: FPS will also stamp the passport of any pony with FIS results IF THE OWNER REQUESTS THIS.
Since 2013, FIS testing can also be performed by Dr. Gus Cothran at Texas A&M for a cost of $35. The procedure for hair sampling and directions for mailing and payment are the same as noted above EXCEPT that for FIS testing a veterinarian should pull the hairs and certify the identity of the pony sampled via microchip scanning and passport review. The FIS results of samples which are not certified by a veterinarian may not be recognized by FPS. A sample form which the veterinarian may use for FIS testing (to be used only at Dr. Cothran's lab) is located here for your convenience. (Note: Do NOT use this form for testing to be done by AHT. AHT forms are included with any FIS kit purchased from FPS.)
For more information about FIS, an article from The Horse Trust (UK), which helped to fund the syndrome research, can be found here.