The Welfare of Horses pp 45-76

Part of the Animal Welfare book series (AWNS, volume 1) | Cite as

Nutrition and Welfare

  • N. Davidson
  • P. Harris

Abstract

The horse is a social species living in herds and spending the majority of its time roaming and foraging in a diverse and seasonally-varying environment. As a non-ruminant herbivore it is well suited to a high fibre, low starch diet. Domestication has resulted in a number of benefits to the horse, reflected in its continued prevalence and apparently increased life expectancy, but it has not been without its price. Especially in developed countries, horses kept for leisure purposes (which includes all competition and racing horses) are often confined, possibly away from conspecifics, within a stable for a large proportion of the day. Due to increased energy requirements many horses now receive one to two large meals a day, consisting of feedstuffs with a low water content and often a radically different nutritional profile from the diet that they would be able or would choose to select in the wild. These modern practices have benefits but also potential disadvantages to the horse both nutritionally and behaviourally which may have an impact on welfare. This chapter highlights areas where dietary imbalances or inappropriate feeding practices may potentially have an adverse effect on welfare and gives suggestions on how these may be ameliorated.

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© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Davidson
    • 1
  • P. Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Equine Studies GroupWALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, Freeby Lane, Waltham-on-the-woldsLeicestershireUK

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