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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2021

Authors: Kelemen, Z; Grimm, H; Vogl, C; Long, M; Cavalleri, JMV; Auer, U; Jenner, F

Title: Equine activity time budgets: The effect of housing and management conditions on geriatric horses and horses with chronic orthopaedic disease.

Source: Animals (Basel). 2021; 11(7):1867

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Auer Ulrike
Cavalleri Jessika-Maximiliane
Grimm Herwig
Jenner Florien
Kelemen Zsofia
Long Mariessa
Vogl Claus

Vetmed Research Units
University Clinic for Small Animals, Clinical Unit of Anaesthesiology and Perioperative Intensive-Care Medicine
University Equine Clinic, Clinical Unit of Equine Internal Medicine
University Equine Clinic, Clinical Unit of Equine Surgery
Messerli Research Institute, Ethics and Human-Animal Studies
Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Unit of Molecular Genetics

Housing and management conditions strongly influence the health, welfare and behaviour of horses. Consequently, objective and quantifiable comparisons between domestic environments and their influence on different equine demographics are needed to establish evidence-based criteria to assess and optimize horse welfare. Therefore, the present study aimed to measure and compare the time budgets (=percentage of time spent on specific activities) of horses with chronic orthopaedic disease and geriatric (≥20 years) horses living in different husbandry systems using an automated tracking device. Horses spent 42% (range 38.3-44.8%) of their day eating, 39% (range 36.87-44.9%) resting, and 19% (range 17-20.4%) in movement, demonstrating that geriatric horses and horses suffering from chronic orthopaedic disease can exhibit behaviour time budgets equivalent to healthy controls. Time budget analysis revealed significant differences between farms, turn-out conditions and time of day, and could identify potential areas for improvement. Horses living in open-air group housing on a paddock had a more uniform temporal distribution of feeding and movement activities with less pronounced peaks compared to horses living in more restricted husbandry systems.

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