WorldFengur - the studbook of origin for the Icelandic horse
© Lorange; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011
Published: 20 June 2011
WorldFengur is the database that contains and functions as the studbook of origin of the Icelandic horse. Only pure-bred Icelandic horses, whose ancestry can be traced back to Iceland entirely, may be registered into WorldFengur. The WorldFengur project is a joint effort by the FAIC (Farmers Association of Iceland) and FEIF (International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations) to construct an official and central database on horses of Icelandic origin located all over the world. It is used in this capacity in 19 countries so far; the number of data stored in the WorldFengur database has increased continuously. The database itself has developed tremendously since it was established in 2001; it includes information on horses’ pedigrees and offspring, as well as results of breeding assessments and sports competitions, owners, breeders, breeding prediction values (BLUP), colours, microchip numbers, health records, DNA profiles for checking ancestries and much more. The key words in its development are common solutions to common challenges internationally. The requirements to fulfill both national and international regulations, such as the latest EU directive on the identification of equidae - no 504/2008/EU -, have increased in recent years and the WorldFengur project continuously endeavours to stay in line with these developments.
What is WorldFengur?
WorldFengur (WF) is the international database containing the studbook of origin of the Icelandic horses. The name means “the world’s benefit”. WorldFengur was opened formally in August 2001 at the World Championships for Icelandic horses in Austria. WF contains information on Icelandic horses world-wide. It is a joint effort by the FAIC, Farmers Association of Iceland, and FEIF, International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations, in order to develop an official, global and central database on horses of Icelandic origin located all over the world. 19 countries are full members or associate members of FEIF. Icelandic horses from non-FEIF countries such as Poland, Spain, Australia and Hungary, are also registered into WF, provided their national registration guarantees them being pure-bred. One of the main objectives of the WF project is to enable the calculation of global breeding evaluations of Icelandic horses, based on their sharing the same genepool, by using measureable and comparable data stored in WF from as many countries as possible . Another of the main objectives of the WF project is to provide a common IT solution to common challenges for all approved breeding associations that keep studbooks for Icelandic horses. IT technology has provided unique opportunities to reach this goal. We have created access to all relevant and real-time information world-wide in one place, and have provided additional knowledge by cross-linking information in comprehensive databases.
Information about 354,035 pure-bred Icelandic horses all over the world
Total number of horses located in country
Percentage of total number of horses
Percentage of total number of horses alive
Less than 1 year old horses
The key is to create powerful, flexible and secure access control, and a fast 24-hours service. The success of the WF project is based on the 3 Cs: Connectivity, Coordination and Cooperation. It connects people world-wide, coordinates their work and creates successful cooperation.
WF is a web-based program (Java Server Pages, JSP) connected to an Oracle™ database which stores all its data. The hardware is based on a client browser, web server, Oracle Application Server and Oracle Database System version 10g. The development tool is JavaDeveloper™ from Oracle. The communication is 3-tier layer. First, there is a presentation layer based on websites, then there is a communication layer in accordance with the TCP/IP standard, and finally, there is an Oracle Application Server (OAS) which communicates exclusively with the database.
Flexible and secure access control
As mentioned before, the key is access control. The FAIC and FEIF have agreed on a set of standardised rules and procedures concerning access rights to WF. This is a part of the agreement between both parties that was signed in 2000. MAST, The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, is in charge of access rights and registration rules on animal welfare issues (such as diseases and medication) in accordance with currently valid laws and regulations. Each DNA laboratory has exclusive rights to register its own DNA testing results, as well as having access to results registered by other approved laboratories in the WF/DNA project. Each country's member association provides a list of persons who are given access at different levels. All members of the 19 FEIF associations - currently appr. 60,000 - can get free subscriber access (i.e., read-only access) to WF through their associations. In the past 12 months, 9,000 of those members made use of their access to WF. Access to the system depends on the users' rights. For instance, a user with Danish registrar access is only allowed to register and change basic information on horses born in Denmark, and has limited access to registering data for horses located in Denmark. One user may have more than one function or role combined in his or her access, e.g. both registrar's and judge's access. The most common user groups in WF are FEIF registrars, national registrars, national judges, national veterinarians, laboratory employees and read-only subscribers. WorldFengur keeps track of the history of registration of and changes made to data; this is important in order to guarantee the system's transparency regarding the origin of data. Changes of most important data are done through registering remarks, in order to make the data history more transparent. These remarks are restricted to the registrar that made them, so only he or she can change or delete them.
The WF/DNA Project
Conclusions and outlook
WF is a good example of how IT can be used to connect people and data around the world. The comprehensive data in WF enhances knowledge that can be used for breeding Icelandic horses. Since WF opened 10 years ago it has strengthened international cooperation and coordination within the Icelandic horse community. The so-called positive spill-over effect is very much valid in the WF project. Functions already implemented in WF create strong incentives for developing new functions in different sectors. The result is more integration, coordination and cooperation. In the beginning, the main aim was to build an international database to collect data on pedigrees of as many Icelandic horses as possible, which could be used to calculate a breeding prediction evaluation. In 2007, Jens Iversen, who was then president of FEIF said in an interview in Bændablaðið (the Icelandic Farmers Newspaper): “WorldFengur is the most important tool that FEIF has to keep FEIF’s work going. No other discipline in equestrianism has access to such comprehensive information as the Icelandic horse.” . Step by step new functions and responsibilities, such as DNA, Sport results and Health information, are added to WF which connects the Icelandic horse enthusiasts more and more all over the world. For further information, see the http://www.worldfengur.com.
This article has been published as part of Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica Volume 53 Supplement 1, 2011: Databases in veterinary medicine: validation, harmonisation and application. Proceedings of the 24th Symposium of the Nordic Committee for Veterinary Scientific Cooperation (NKVet). The full contents of the supplement are available online at http://www.actavetscand.com/supplements/53/S1.
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