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 Ferrante, Valentina and The Scientific Committee, (eds.) In Proceedings of the 37th International Congress of the ISAE. 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: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Venue - Dates: 37th International Congress of the ISAE, 2003-06-24 - 2003-06-28
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ePrint ID: 63503
Date :
Date Event
3 June 2003Published
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 17:24
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