Next Article in Journal
Managing the Volatility Risk of Renewable Energy: Index Insurance for Offshore Wind Farms in Taiwan
Previous Article in Journal
Compatibility and Biomineralization Oriented Optimization of Nutrient Content in Nitrate-Reducing-Biogranules-Based Microbial Self-Healing Concrete
Previous Article in Special Issue
Animal Welfare and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals—Broadening Students’ Perspectives
 
 
Article

Improving Horse Welfare and Environmental Sustainability in Horse Husbandry: Linkage between Turnout and Nitrogen Surplus

1
TUM School of Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich, 85354 Freising, Germany
2
Chamber of Agriculture in North-Rhine Westphalia, Department 71 Animal Husbandry and Animal Breeding Legislation, 59505 Bad Sassendorf, Germany
3
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, 80539 Munich, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Harry Blokhuis
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8991; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168991
Received: 27 March 2021 / Revised: 22 July 2021 / Accepted: 4 August 2021 / Published: 11 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)
A scientific consultation tool is currently being developed in Germany to assess, analyze, and improve animal welfare on site and simultaneously consider aspects of environmental sustainability in horse husbandry in order to contribute to a resource-conserving and responsible handling of natural resources and the welfare of living beings. To date, no study has assessed to what extent species-appropriate free-range locomotion possibilities are implemented on horse farms and to what extent turnout areas are affected by unwanted nutrient inputs from horse excretions. Using the indicators “species-appropriate turnout” (hereafter: “turnout”) and “unwanted nitrogen inputs in water bodies” (based on “nitrogen surplus”), we exemplarily examine animal- and environmentally relevant aspects of horse husbandry. We conducted 88 assessments on 46 horse farms (n = 2220 horses) to test literature-based indicators of animal welfare and environmental sustainability. We found that the indicator “nitrogen surplus,” used to assess an aspect of environmental sustainability, was mostly a problem in the wintertime (summertime = −4.24, range: −109.27–58.97; wintertime: mean: 12.01, range: −35.19–468.00 nitrogen surplus per hectare, n = 44 farms, p < 0.001), when the horses had a reduced space allowance for free locomotion. On most farms, “turnout” was provided daily for several hours, but in many of the single housing systems, not all horses had the possibility for free locomotion (24.1 ± 20.4% of horses per farm), which is unacceptable in terms of animal welfare. Husbandry systems with a large enough space allowance for turnout (≥200 m2 per horse) were found to be measures with a valuable synergetic effect, providing a resource which is an opportunity both for an environmentally sustainable and welfare-friendly horse husbandry. Demanuring remarkably decreased the nitrogen surplus (p < 0.001). Hence, based on the study, we recommend to daily demanure the pasture or paddock if the space allowance is less than 200 m2 per horse. In conclusion, regarding animal welfare, group housing is favorable, but regarding a site-specific environmentally friendly or even biodiversity-enhancing management, space allowance per horse is a crucial factor rather than the type of housing system. The two selected exemplary indictors demonstrate the need for a holistic and comprehensive decision support system that considers the linkage between horse welfare and environmental sustainability in order to assist peoples’ decision-making with horses under their care. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable livestock; welfare assessment system; positive welfare; welfare indicator; space allowance; single housing; group housing; horse farm management; horse yards sustainable livestock; welfare assessment system; positive welfare; welfare indicator; space allowance; single housing; group housing; horse farm management; horse yards
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Baumgartner, M.; Kuhnke, S.; Hülsbergen, K.-J.; Erhard, M.H.; Zeitler-Feicht, M.H. Improving Horse Welfare and Environmental Sustainability in Horse Husbandry: Linkage between Turnout and Nitrogen Surplus. Sustainability 2021, 13, 8991. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168991

AMA Style

Baumgartner M, Kuhnke S, Hülsbergen K-J, Erhard MH, Zeitler-Feicht MH. Improving Horse Welfare and Environmental Sustainability in Horse Husbandry: Linkage between Turnout and Nitrogen Surplus. Sustainability. 2021; 13(16):8991. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168991

Chicago/Turabian Style

Baumgartner, Miriam, Sandra Kuhnke, Kurt-Jürgen Hülsbergen, Michael H. Erhard, and Margit H. Zeitler-Feicht. 2021. "Improving Horse Welfare and Environmental Sustainability in Horse Husbandry: Linkage between Turnout and Nitrogen Surplus" Sustainability 13, no. 16: 8991. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168991

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop