Horses reared for meat production are generally fed a diet rich in starch with the aim ofmaximizing production performances. This study evaluated the effects of two feeding managementsystems on horse welfare by analysing the relative time spent engaged in different behaviouralactivities. Nineteen Bardigiano horses aged 14.3±0.7 months were randomly assigned to one oftwo group pens: one group was fed high amounts of starch-rich concentrates (HCG;n= 10), theother was fed a fibre-based diet (HFG;n= 9). Behavioural activities performed by each horse werevideo-recorded over a 96-h period. A scan sampling process (n= 144 scans/horse/day; totalnofscans sampled = 10,368) was used, and the scans were analysed according to a specific ethogram. Themean frequency (%/24 h) spent exhibiting each behavioural activity was calculated to obtain the timebudget. After checking for normality (Shapiro–Wilk test), Student’sttests (normally distributed data)and Mann–Whitney tests (not normally distributed data) were used to compare the time budgetsof the two groups of horses (HCG vs. HFG). Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was appliedto identify the components explaining the variability in behavioural activities between the twogroups. K-means cluster analysis subsequently confirmed the PCA results. The behavioural activitiesassociated with feeding horses a fibre-based diet correlated with better horse welfare compared withfeeding horses a starch-based diet. Feeding horses a fibre-based diet resulted advantageous fromboth the welfare and economic perspective; it allowed horses to spend more time expressing feedingbehaviours and reduced energy expenditure in the form of excitable, or “fizzy”, behaviours.

Does Feeding Management Make a Difference to BehaviouralActivities and Welfare of Horses Reared for Meat Production?

Damiano Cavallini;
2022

Abstract

Horses reared for meat production are generally fed a diet rich in starch with the aim ofmaximizing production performances. This study evaluated the effects of two feeding managementsystems on horse welfare by analysing the relative time spent engaged in different behaviouralactivities. Nineteen Bardigiano horses aged 14.3±0.7 months were randomly assigned to one oftwo group pens: one group was fed high amounts of starch-rich concentrates (HCG;n= 10), theother was fed a fibre-based diet (HFG;n= 9). Behavioural activities performed by each horse werevideo-recorded over a 96-h period. A scan sampling process (n= 144 scans/horse/day; totalnofscans sampled = 10,368) was used, and the scans were analysed according to a specific ethogram. Themean frequency (%/24 h) spent exhibiting each behavioural activity was calculated to obtain the timebudget. After checking for normality (Shapiro–Wilk test), Student’sttests (normally distributed data)and Mann–Whitney tests (not normally distributed data) were used to compare the time budgetsof the two groups of horses (HCG vs. HFG). Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was appliedto identify the components explaining the variability in behavioural activities between the twogroups. K-means cluster analysis subsequently confirmed the PCA results. The behavioural activitiesassociated with feeding horses a fibre-based diet correlated with better horse welfare compared withfeeding horses a starch-based diet. Feeding horses a fibre-based diet resulted advantageous fromboth the welfare and economic perspective; it allowed horses to spend more time expressing feedingbehaviours and reduced energy expenditure in the form of excitable, or “fizzy”, behaviours.
Federica Raspa, Martina Tarantola, Edlira Muca, Domenico Bergero, Dominga Soglia, Damiano Cavallini, Ingrid Vervuert, Clara Bordin, Pasquale De Palo, Emanuela Valle
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/894877
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