Effects of traditional versus novel feeding management on 24 hour time budget of stabled horses
To improve the welfare of domesticated horses it would be advantageous to increase feeding time and reduce non-feeding periods without increasing calorific intake. The aim of this study was to measure the effect of the removal of stressful feed times by providing an ad libitum mixed diet on the time budget of stabled horses. This field study was performed on a working equestrian yard, using 6 horses (BW weight 627±18.52 kg mares, 4 geldings) in a before and after design. The trial was carried out in 2 phases of 4 weeks each: Phase 1 – Traditional Treatment (TT = 2 concentrate feeds and 2 haynets daily at 07:30 and 17:30) and Phase 2 – Slow Feeder Treatment (SF = meal times removed, forage based diet in novel all inclusive feed bin system). A 24 hour time budget analysis was facilitated by video surveillance. Time spent on feed intake was significantly higher for the SF than TT phases (SF 533±0.5 and TT 237±11 minutes/day; P<0.001, T=−37.0). In this study the use of slow feeders to remove stressful feed times, whilst offering enhanced foraging opportunity, had a positive effect on the behaviour and welfare of the horses. It also highlights that for horses working at light to medium level, high forage-low energy diets can be maintained with such a system.
Keywordsforage behaviour feed intake stereotypies time budget
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