Adaption of horses to a novel dynamic feeding system : movement and behavioural responses

Hampson, B.A., de Laat, Melody A., Monot, J., Bailliu, D., & Pollitt, C.C. (2013) Adaption of horses to a novel dynamic feeding system : movement and behavioural responses. Equine Veterinary Journal, 45(4), pp. 481-484.

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Reasons for performing study: Many domestic horses and ponies are sedentary and obese due to confinement to small paddocks and stables and a diet of infrequent, high-energy rations. Severe health consequences can be associated with this altered lifestyle.

Objectives: The aims of this study were to investigate the ability of horses to learn to use a dynamic feeder system and determine the movement and behavioural responses of horses to the novel system.

Methods: A dynamic feed station was developed to encourage horses to exercise in order to access ad libitum hay. Five pairs of horses (n = 10) were studied using a randomised crossover design with each pair studied in a control paddock containing a standard hay feeder and an experimental paddock containing the novel hay feeder. Horse movement was monitored by a global positioning system (GPS) and horses observed and their ability to learn to use the system and the behavioural responses to its use assessed.

Results: With initial human intervention all horses used the novel feeder within 1 h. Some aggressive behaviour was observed between horses not well matched in dominance behaviour. The median distance walked by the horses was less (P = 0.002) during a 4 h period (117 [57–185] m) in the control paddock than in the experimental paddock (630 [509–719] m).

Conclusions: The use of an automated feeding system promotes increased activity levels in horses housed in small paddocks, compared with a stationary feeder.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
3 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 59585
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Horse, Exercise, Diet, GPS, Obesity, Insulin Resistance
DOI: 10.1111/evj.12002
ISSN: 0425-1644
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 02 May 2013 22:25
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2013 01:31

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