Promoting sensory variety in concentrate diets for stabled horses: effects on behaviour and selection

Goodwin, D., Davidson, H.P.B. and Harris, P. (2003) Promoting sensory variety in concentrate diets for stabled horses: effects on behaviour and selection. In, Ferrante, Valentina and The Scientific Committee, (eds.) Proceedings of the 37th International Congress of the ISAE. 37th International Congress of the ISAE Brescia, Italy, Fondazione Iniziative Zooprofilattiche e Zootecniche, p.99.


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Published studies investigating foraging behaviour with bulk forages have identified
the importance of variety. Whether restricted sensory variety also affects foraging
behaviour on concentrate diets is currently unclear. Foraging was identified as sniff,
manipulate, chew or ingest a foodstuff. To investigate this in three replicated trials,
up to eight horses were introduced into each of two identical stables containing a
single concentrate feed, or four concentrate feeds for five minutes. In order to control
for palatability effects each concentrate was presented as the single concentrate
option on two occasions within each trial. Trials were videotaped and 12 mutually
exclusive behaviour patterns compared.
Data was evaluated using Observer 3 and SPSS v10. Square root transformations
normalised the data allowing GLM ANOVA. Commercially available low energy
concentrates used in Trials 1 and 2 presented a range of sensory variety. In Trial 3,
four otherwise identical base diets were presented flavoured with molasses, garlic,
mint or herbs, to test whether manipulating one sensory characteristic was sufficient
to effect changes in behaviour and diet selection.
When Single or Multiple concentrates were presented significant differences in foraging
and non-foraging behaviour were recorded in all three trials e.g. Foraging
bouts were longer in Single than Multiple sessions (Trial 1: F18.1 df 7 P<0.005 Trial
2: F9.4 df 5 P<0.05, Trial 3 F12 df 7 P<0.05), Stand duration was also longer in
the Single session (Trial 1: F21.2 df 7 P<0.005, Trial 2: F15.7 df 5 P<0.01, Trial 3:
F9.2 df 7 P<0.05). In all trials, multiple session non-foraging behaviour, foraging
behaviour and selection patterns resembled that reported for free ranging horses
more closely.
Further study is required to determine whether these effects persist over longer periods.
However, these trials indicate that promoting sensory variety in concentrate
diets facilitates the expression of highly motivated foraging behaviour.

Item Type: Book Section
Related URLs:
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Psychology > Division of Cognition
ePrint ID: 63503
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
3 June 2003Published
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:47

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