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Foraging enrichment for stabled horses: effects on behaviour and selection

Foraging enrichment for stabled horses: effects on behaviour and selection
Foraging enrichment for stabled horses: effects on behaviour and selection
The restricted access to pasture experienced by many competition horses has been linked to the exhibition of stereotypic and redirected behaviour patterns. It has been suggested that racehorses provided with more than one source of forage are less likely to perform these patterns; however, the reasons for this are currently unclear. To investigate this in 4 replicated trials, up to 12 horses were introduced into each of 2 identical stables containing a single forage, or 6 forages for 5 min. To detect novelty effects, in the first and third trials the single forage was hay. In the second and fourth, it was the preferred forage from the preceding trial. Trials were videotaped and 12 mutually exclusive behaviour patterns compared. When hay was presented as the single forage (Trials 1 and 3), all recorded behaviour patterns were significantly different between stables; e.g. during Trial 3 in the 'Single' stable, horses looked over the stable door more frequently (P<0.001), moved for longer (P<0.001), foraged on straw bedding longer (P<0.001), and exhibited behaviour indicative of motivation to search for alternative resources (P<0.001) more frequently. When a previously preferred forage was presented as the single forage (Trials 2 and 4) behaviour was also significantly different between stables, e.g in Trial 4 horses looked out over the stable door more frequently (P<0.005) and foraged for longer in their straw bedding (P<0.005). Further study is required to determine whether these effects persist over longer periods. However, these trials indicate that enrichment of the stable environment through provision of multiple forages may have welfare benefits for horses, in reducing straw consumption and facilitating the expression of highly motivated foraging behaviour.
horse, forage, enrichment, behaviour, welfare
0425-1644
686-691
Goodwin, D.
44ea5b5f-3933-4171-83b6-8d48928e27ca
Davidson, H.P.B.
c94e24c3-37c7-4410-9961-03125268908c
Harris, P.
65908d3a-d64f-436d-829a-fd500923515b
Goodwin, D.
44ea5b5f-3933-4171-83b6-8d48928e27ca
Davidson, H.P.B.
c94e24c3-37c7-4410-9961-03125268908c
Harris, P.
65908d3a-d64f-436d-829a-fd500923515b

Goodwin, D., Davidson, H.P.B. and Harris, P. (2002) Foraging enrichment for stabled horses: effects on behaviour and selection. Equine Veterinary Journal, 34 (7), 686-691. (doi:10.2746/042516402776250450).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The restricted access to pasture experienced by many competition horses has been linked to the exhibition of stereotypic and redirected behaviour patterns. It has been suggested that racehorses provided with more than one source of forage are less likely to perform these patterns; however, the reasons for this are currently unclear. To investigate this in 4 replicated trials, up to 12 horses were introduced into each of 2 identical stables containing a single forage, or 6 forages for 5 min. To detect novelty effects, in the first and third trials the single forage was hay. In the second and fourth, it was the preferred forage from the preceding trial. Trials were videotaped and 12 mutually exclusive behaviour patterns compared. When hay was presented as the single forage (Trials 1 and 3), all recorded behaviour patterns were significantly different between stables; e.g. during Trial 3 in the 'Single' stable, horses looked over the stable door more frequently (P<0.001), moved for longer (P<0.001), foraged on straw bedding longer (P<0.001), and exhibited behaviour indicative of motivation to search for alternative resources (P<0.001) more frequently. When a previously preferred forage was presented as the single forage (Trials 2 and 4) behaviour was also significantly different between stables, e.g in Trial 4 horses looked out over the stable door more frequently (P<0.005) and foraged for longer in their straw bedding (P<0.005). Further study is required to determine whether these effects persist over longer periods. However, these trials indicate that enrichment of the stable environment through provision of multiple forages may have welfare benefits for horses, in reducing straw consumption and facilitating the expression of highly motivated foraging behaviour.

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Published date: 2002
Keywords: horse, forage, enrichment, behaviour, welfare

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 18256
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/18256
ISSN: 0425-1644
PURE UUID: 715193f6-3d1a-4993-bece-55203bad0301

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Date deposited: 20 Jan 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 16:36

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