Promoting natural foraging behaviour in stabled horses

Goodwin, Deborah, Davidson, Nell and Harris, Pat, (2002) Promoting natural foraging behaviour in stabled horses Koene, Paul and Scientific Committee of the 36th ISAE Congress, (eds.) In Proceedings of the 36th Internaltional Congress of the ISAE. Paul Koene for the Organising Committee of the 36th ISAE Congress. 1 pp, P.40.


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Four preliminary trials investigated foraging behaviour in stabled horses provided with multiple forages (in press Equine Veterinary Journal). These trials suggested that stabled horses were using foraging behaviour strategies previously recorded in freeranging and feral horses, and other large grazing herbivores. Patch grazing strategies allow herbivores to select a better than average diet from a heterogeneous resource. The preliminary trials also compared the behaviour of horses in a single stable with an otherwise identical stable containing six forages. Horses exhibited less searching behaviour and less stereotypical behaviour in the multiple forage environment than the same horses in an identical stable containing a single forage. In the four replicated choice trials reported here, up to 12 competition horses were allowed 5 minutes access to two otherwise identical stables containing single or multiple forages. Horses were subsequently allowed to choose between the stables during a 5 minute liberty test. In two of the trials the single forage presented was hay and in two the single forage was a previously preferred forage. In Trial 1 and 3 (single forage=hay), the horses showed a strong preference for the multiple forage stable (Chisquared S/S, S/M, M/M: Chi-squared=16.4 (Trial 1) and 22.00 (Trial 3), df=2, p<0.0001). In Trials 2 and 4 (single forage=preferred) the horses also showed a preference, though less significant, for the multiple forage environment (S/S, S/M, M/M (Trial 2) Chi-squared=4.7, df=2, p=0.09 and (Trial 4) Chi-squared=5.6, df=2, p=0.06). The preliminary trials indicated that foraging enrichment prompted exhibition of wildtype foraging behaviour in stabled horses. The four choice trials showed these stabled horses selected an enriched over a restricted forage environment through a locational choice. This provides further evidence to support foraging enrichment of the stable environment to facilitate highly motivated behaviour in a restricted domestic environment.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Venue - Dates: conference; 2002-08-06; 2002-08-10, 2002-08-06 - 2002-08-10
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Keywords: horse, foraging behaviour, environmental enrichment, domestication, feral
ePrint ID: 63505
Date :
Date Event
7 August 2002Published
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 17:24
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