Effect of forage presentation on feed intake behaviour in stabled horses
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In some stabled horses, the lack of foraging opportunity leads to a reduction in chewing time with consequent negative impacts on the digestive system and development of stereotypies. This study aimed to compare the effect of four haynets on feed intake behaviour in stabled horses. Feed intake behaviour (intake time, bite rate, chews/kg, chews/minute) was measured in 12 horses (age 13±4 years old; BW 585±62 kg) using 4 haynets (Elimanet 25 mm mesh size, Furlong 30 mm, Haylage net 30 mm, Original ‘large’ 75 mm) in a 4×4 Latin square design. Horses were provided with their daily forage intake via each haynet for a 10 day period and forage intake measurements were taken at the beginning, middle and end of each period to account for acclimatisation to the haynets. Data was analysed using ANOVA and is presented as means ± standard error. The ‘large’ haynet recorded more chews per minute (66±1.1 vs. 60±1.0 ch/min, P <0.01) compared to other haynets due to a reduced bite rate (17±1.7 bites/kg vs. 28±1.6 bites/min, P<0.001). The Elimanet (smallest mesh) only showed a weak trend in reduced intake in grams/minute translating to a significantly increased intake time per 1 kg of hay (Elimanet 36, Furlong 29, Haylage 28, Large 26 minutes; P<0.01). Overall however, all smaller holed haynets were equally successful in slowing feed intake down slightly with an increased chewing time of around 5 minutes/kg.
Keywordsfeed intake haynets behaviour health
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