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Responses of stabled horses choosing between multiple and single forage locations

Goodwin, D., Davidson, H.P.B. and Harris, P. (2007) Responses of stabled horses choosing between multiple and single forage locations Veterinary Record, 160, (16), pp. 548-551. (doi:10.1136/vr.160.16.548).

Record type: Article


Equine stabling commonly restricts horses’ location and diet selection, with associated physiological and behavioural health consequences. To investigate foraging location choices, in four replicated trials, ten to twelve horses were introduced for five minutes into each of two matching stables containing a single forage or six forages. The horses were then removed and released in the gangway between the stables and allowed five minutes to choose between them. Initial choice, final choice, mean duration in each location and proportional frequency of change of location were compared. The majority of horses initially entered the closest stable on release (P<0.05). If the closest stable contained a single hay the majority transferred to the multiple forage stable (P<0.001). Durations within stables suggest a preference for multiple forages in multiple locations (P<0.001). Eleven individuals swapped stables on one or multiple occasions during trials when hay or a preferred forage was available in both stables. This could indicate motivation to move between foraging locations irrespective of forage palatability and preference. Further study is required to determine whether these effects persist with larger sample sizes over longer periods. However, these preliminary trials suggest that motivation to move between foraging locations may persist in stabled horses.

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Published date: 21 April 2007
Keywords: horse, management, foraging behaviour, location, choice


Local EPrints ID: 40069
PURE UUID: 380bfca8-86e8-4dc7-b50a-fb45cfcd17fb

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:35

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Author: D. Goodwin
Author: H.P.B. Davidson
Author: P. Harris

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