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Sensory varieties in concentrate diets for stabled horses: effects on behaviour and selection

By D. Goodwin, H. P. B. Davidson, P. Harris

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There is little published information about feeding behaviour of horses presented with concentrate diets and whether restricted variety affects foraging behaviour on concentrate diets is currently unclear. This study investigated the effects of sensory variety on diet selection and behaviour of stabled horses. In three replicated trials, four low energy concentrates were presented. In trial 1 formulation varied with no added flavourants, in trial 2 formulation and flavour varied, in trial 3 formulation was constant and flavour varied. Up to eight horses were observed in two identical stables containing, either a single concentrate feed or four concentrate feeds (multiple concentrates) for 5 min. To control for palatability each concentrate was presented as the single concentrate twice within each trial. Trials were videotaped and 12 mutually exclusive behaviour patterns compared. Significant differences (P<0.05 - P<0.001) in foraging and non-foraging behaviour were recorded between single and multiple sessions in trials 1, 2 and 3. In all trials the concentrate available in the single concentrate sessions was shown to influence diet selection during multiple sessions. In trial 3, four otherwise identical base diets flavoured with molasses, garlic, mint or herbs, tested whether manipulating flavour was sufficient to affect behaviour and diet selection. When multiple and single session behaviour was compared horse foraged more frequently (P<0.005) and for longer (P<0.05) in multiple sessions but foraging bouts were shorter (P<0.05), suggesting natural patch foraging behaviour occurs in stabled horses offered multiple concentrate diets even if they vary only in flavour.

Date 2005
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 90
Issue 3/4
Pages 337-349
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Animal Behaviour Programme, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, New College Campus, The Avenue, Southampton SO17 1BG, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal nutrition
  3. Concentrates
  4. Diets
  5. Feeding behavior
  6. Flavor
  7. Foraging
  8. Horses
  9. Mammals
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. proteins
  1. peer-reviewed