Next Article in Journal
Organic Farming as a Strategy to Reduce Carbon Footprint in Dehesa Agroecosystems: A Case Study Comparing Different Livestock Products
Next Article in Special Issue
In-Person Caretaker Visits Disrupt Ongoing Discomfort Behavior in Hospitalized Equine Orthopedic Surgical Patients
Previous Article in Journal
The View of the French Dog Breeders in Relation to Female Reproduction, Maternal Care and Stress during the Peripartum Period
Previous Article in Special Issue
Preliminary Proof of the Concept of Wild (Feral) Horses Following Light Aircraft into a Trap
Open AccessArticle

Effects of Transport Conditions on Behavioural and Physiological Responses of Horses

1
Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Viale Fanin 44, 40127 Bologna, Italy
2
School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Charles Stuart University, Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(1), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010160
Received: 17 December 2019 / Revised: 15 January 2020 / Accepted: 15 January 2020 / Published: 17 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Welfare)
The aim of this study was to document the effects of 12 hours’ confinement in comparison with 12 h of transportation in single and wide bays, and in backward and forward positioning, on horse behavioural, physiological, laboratory and gastroscopy parameters. Behaviours relating to stress and balance occurred more frequently during transport than during confinement, and transport in a rear-facing position and in a wider bay size were associated with reduced balance-related behaviours. An increased frequency of balance behaviours, in particular loss of balance, and transport-related increases in heart rate and rectal temperature were associated with gastric ulceration after transportation. While effects of bay size and direction of travel on stress behaviours were less clear and require further study, this study suggests that adequate space and rear-facing positioning facilitates better balance and may enhance the health and welfare of transported horses. Behavioural observations, heart rate and monitoring of rectal temperature are useful to identify horses at risk for development of transport-related diseases.
The regulations for minimal space and direction of travel for land transport in horses vary worldwide and there is currently no definitive guidance to promote equine health and welfare. This study evaluated the effects of bay size and direction of travel (forwards/backwards) in horses by comparing the behavioural, physiological, laboratory and gastroscopy parameters between transported and confined horses. A total of twenty-six mares took part in the study; 12 horses were confined for 12 h, and all mares underwent 12 hours’ transportation, travelling in single (n = 18) or wide bays (n = 8), and forward (n = 10) or rear (n = 16) facing. Behaviour was recorded during confinement/transportation and analysed using a behaviour sampling ethogram. Clinical examination, blood samples and gastroscopy were conducted before and after confinement/transportation. The frequency of behaviours relating to stress and balance increased during transport, and horses transported in a rear-facing position and in a wider bay size showed fewer balance-related behaviours. Balance behaviours, particularly loss of balance, were positively associated with the severity of gastric ulceration after transportation and elevated muscle enzymes, while increased stress behaviours correlated with decreased gastrointestinal sounds. Heart rate and rectal temperature after transportation were positively associated with balance and stress behaviours, and with squamous gastric ulcer scores. Transportation was associated with expected increases in cortisol and muscle enzymes, but positioning and space allowance had minimal effects on these analytes. Findings suggest that transportation in a rear-facing position and in wider bays might reduce the impact of transport on horse health and welfare, and monitoring behaviour in transit and physiological measurements after transportation should be recommended. Behavioural and physiological parameters were more sensitive than haematological, biochemical or endocrine analytes to identify horses suffering from transport stress. View Full-Text
Keywords: travelling; welfare; space; position; behaviour; stomach ulcers; equine travelling; welfare; space; position; behaviour; stomach ulcers; equine
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Padalino, B.; Raidal, S.L. Effects of Transport Conditions on Behavioural and Physiological Responses of Horses. Animals 2020, 10, 160.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
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
Search more from Scilit
 
Search
Back to TopTop