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|
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