Eliminatory behaviour of a bachelor group of Przewalski horses in a semi-reserve; comparison with the domestic horse

Goodwin, D. and Redman, P., (1997) Eliminatory behaviour of a bachelor group of Przewalski horses in a semi-reserve; comparison with the domestic horse Špinka, Marek, Illmann, Gudrun, Maletínská, Jitka, Štìtková, Zuzana, Bartoš, Ludìk and Koš ál, Ľubor (eds.) In Proceedings of the 31st International Congress of the ISAE (ISAE '97). Research Institute of Animal Production and Institute of Animal Biochemistry and Genetics. 1 pp, p.48.


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The Przewalski horse (Equus przewalskii) is extinct in the wild, but has a current population of around 1300 animals housed in zoos and semi-reserves. As the ratio of births of males:females is about 1:1, males which are currently surplus to the requirements of the breeding program can be difficult to house. A group of 5 male Przewalskis was introduced to the study site at Eelmoor Marsh, South East England, (a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest) as part of an experimental scheme to help alleviate housing pressure in zoos and as an alternative to mowing to control the growth of invasive vegetation. We have investigated the eliminatory behaviour of this bachelor group and the distribution of faeces on the study site, as part of a series of observations of their social behaviour, grazing preferences and habitat use. The distribution of dung was measured and compared throughout the summer months using a transect method. This data, together with continuous observations of the horses during the same period, was used to determine whether defecation was random, avoided preferred grazing areas, or was contagious within specific latrine sites, as reported in domestic horses. Observations of eliminatory marking behaviour and the use of stud piles (communal mounds of faeces) by individual horses were made during summer and winter months to allow comparisons between seasons. Social status within the group had an effect on the marking behaviour of stallions. The dominant stallion displayed significantly more defecation marking behaviour (P<0.01) than the other mature male, and showed defecation marking behaviour more often in response to the dung of the subordinate mature stallion than to the dung of the juveniles (P<0.005 and P<0.05 respectively). The expression of marking behaviour by mature stallions was higher in the summer than the winter (P<0.005). Stud pile use occurred during both the summer and winter months, and was most prevalent in areas where it had a high-impact visual stimulus. These horses did not appear to show latrine behaviour as reported in domestic horses, although they did avoid grazing next to newly deposited faeces on stud piles in the summer. Dung which was not deposited on stud piles was distributed contagiously (P<0.05) across the study site, mainly along regularly used tracks. These data support the argument that latrine use in domestic horses may be a response to confinement.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
ISBNs: 8088780160 (print)
Venue - Dates: 31st International Congress of the ISAE (ISAE '97), 1997-08-13 - 1997-08-16
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ePrint ID: 63571
Date :
Date Event
August 1997Published
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 17:24
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/63571

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