Dr Barbara Anne Murphy, Chief Scientific Officer & Founder

The Founder

The Equilume Light Mask was created by Dr Barbara Anne Murphy, Head of Equine Science at UCD. Prior to her PhD in Veterinary Science from the prestigious Gluck Equine Research Center in Kentucky, she completed a BSc in Equine Science at the University of Limerick and also spent time within the Thoroughbred industry, having worked for both Coolmore and Darley. An expert in the field of Equine Chronobiology, she regularly speaks at international veterinary conferences and contributes frequently to equine publications in relation to the influence of light on equine reproduction and performance. A native of West Cork, Barbara drives the R&D component of Equilume, constantly striving to find new, innovative ways to improve health and performance in horses.

The Team

Comprised of a team of animal scientists, with access to resources at UCD and the Irish Equine Centre and supported by Enterprise Ireland from Day 1, our goal is to rapidly translate ground- breaking science into innovative solutions for the horse industry and beyond. At the heart of everything we do is the development of lighting solutions that allow animals to live and behave more naturally, in tune with the environment, so that they are healthier and perform better to meet our needs and those of sustainable agriculture.

Study Groups and Early Users Agree

The Equilume Light Mask was tested in multiple field trials across three continents in the process of bringing the Light Mask to market. Since launching in 2014, customers agree – they’re getting the same benefits of timely gestation, healthy foal weights, and success in getting barren and maiden mares to cycle and conceive earlier as with stabling under lights – but with the added benefits of improved health and fertility that 24/7 turnout brings.

The Equilume Light Mask successfully stimulates early reproductive activity in the mare

Equilume
92.3%
Stable lighting
94.4%
No light
25%

In 2012, a study conducted in conjunction with the University of Kentucky evaluated the reproductive activity of  62 maiden and barren mares. The mares were placed into 3 study groups.

On December 1:

  • Group 1 were fitted with prototype Equilume Light Masks that delivered light from 4 pm (1600) to 11 pm (2300) daily and were maintained outdoors at pasture 24/7.
  • Group 2 were maintained indoors at night under standard stable lighting with stable lights left on until 11pm nightly.
  • Group 3 were maintained outdoors at pasture 24/7 without added light (control).

Results

Over 90% of the mares in Group 1 and Group 2 were reproductively active on February 10. There was no statistical difference in the level reproductive activity between the group wearing Equilume Light masks and the group housed traditionally under stable lights, while only 20% of the control groups were cycling. Equilume is as effective as standard stable lighting at advancing the breeding season in mares. This study was successfullyere published as a paper in the Equine Veterinary Journal (Murphy et al, 2013).

The Equilume Light Mask improves foal birth weights

A group of 30 mixed-breed pregnant mares, all inseminated with the same semen and due to foal in February or March 2013, were selected and evenly divided into two groups.

On December 1:

  • Group 1 were fitted with Equilume Light Masks that delivered light from 4 pm (1600) to 11 pm (2300) daily
  • Group 2 received no additional light.

Both groups were maintained outdoors at pasture 24/7.

 

Results

The average birth weight of foals born to Group 1, the group of mares wearing the Equilume Light Masks, was significantly greater by 8.4 lb.

The Equilume Light Mask prevents prolonged gestation lengths

No light
average gestation: 350 days0%
Equilume
average gestation: 339 days 0%

graph shows from 330 to 360 days

On December 1, 2012, 15 pregnant mares with a history of long gestation lengths (350 days) were divided into two groups.

  • Group 1 was fitted with prototype Equilume Light Masks that delivered light from 4 pm (1600) to 11 pm (2300) daily
  • Group 2 received no additional light.

Results

Group 1, the group of mares wearing the Equilume Light Masks, had an 11-day shorter gestation length than Group 2. (Walsh et al, 2012. MSc AgrSc Thesis, UCD)

Help your pregnant mares. Foal on time with optimum birth weights

An unfortunate side effect for mares with foaling dates that occur unnaturally early in the year is longer gestations and smaller foals. Environmental light influences the development of the foal in utero and regulates when a mare will foal. Nature intended that foals be born during the longer days of late spring and summer – and nature tends to have her way. Stimulating the longer day lengths associated with the natural breeding season by fitting pregnant mares with Equilume Light Masks has been shown in clinical trials to eliminate these side effects in most mares, instead helping the mare deliver her foal on-time and with an optimum birth weight.

Late-foaling mares represent economic loss to the breeder by reducing the number of foals a mare can produce in consecutive years. Mares that foal during the darker days prior to the natural breeding season (e.g. Thoroughbreds) have longer gestation lengths by an average of 10 days. However, 20% of Thoroughbred mares experience annual gestation lengths that exceed 355 days.

Light is the primary influencer of gestation length. Light therapy prior to foaling has been scientifically shown to increase average foal birth weights and prevent prolonged gestation. Download our research here.

The Equilume Light Mask advances seasonal moulting

18 Thoroughbred yearlings were randomly divided into two groups and maintained outdoors for 22 hours a day in Hokkaido, Japan. On March 6th

  • Group 1 were fitted with Equilume Light Masks that administered low intensity blue light to the right eye daily from dusk until 11pm each night.
  • Group 2 were maintained under the natural photoperiod.

Results

We observed an advancement of seasonal hair shedding using Equilume Light Masks.

Coat Shedding Trial