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The Effect of an Irregular Feeding Schedule on Equine Behavior

By Manja Zupan, Ivan Štuhec, Dušanka Jordan

Category Journal Articles

We used eight horses 1 to 12 years old to investigate the influence of irregular feeding times on the behavior. The animals were housed in individual boxes, fed with hay ad libitum and barley-oat mixture at three set times; 05:00 (earlier feeding) on Thursdays, 07:00 (delayed feeding) on Saturdays and 06:00 (regular feeding) on other weekdays. Direct observations took place in 10 continuous weeks; they started 1 h prior to feeding and lasted for 2 h. Long-term behaviors (i.e. hay and concentrate consumption, resting) were recorded every 5 min, short-term behaviors (i.e. kicking, pawing the ground, comfort behavior, taking a look toward the door) were recorded continuously. Compared to the regular feeding time, horses spent less time consuming hay, more time resting and less often took a look toward the door during the earlier feeding, whereas during the delayed feeding horses more often performed pawing the ground, kicking, comfort behavior, and took a look toward the door (p < .05). Our results indicate that deviations from the regular feeding schedule affected the behavior of horses and compromised their temporal predictability.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 23
Issue 2
Pages 156-163
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2019.1663734
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Feeding
  3. Horses
  4. predictions