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Open AccessReview

Activity Time Budgets—A Potential Tool to Monitor Equine Welfare?

1
Anaesthesiology and Perioperative Intensive Care Medicine Unit, Department of Companion Animals and Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
2
Equine Surgery Unit, University Equine Hospital, Department of Companion Animals and Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Andrew McLean
Animals 2021, 11(3), 850; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030850
Received: 25 February 2021 / Revised: 14 March 2021 / Accepted: 15 March 2021 / Published: 17 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Equids)
Horses’ behavior is a good indicator of their welfare status. However, its complexity requires objective, quantifiable, and unambiguous evidence-based assessment criteria. As healthy, stress-free horses exhibit a highly repetitive daily routine, horses’ time budget (amount of time in a 24 h period spent on specific activities) can assist in equine welfare assessment. A systematic review of the literature yielded 12 papers that assessed equine time budgets for eating, resting and movement for a minimum of 24 continuous hours. A total of 144 horses (1–27 years old), 59 semi-feral and 85 domesticated horses, are included in this review. The reported 24 h time budgets for eating ranged from 10% to 66.6%, for resting from 8.1% to 66%, for lying from 2.7% to 27.3%, and for movement from 0.015% to 19.1%. The large variance in time budgets between studies can largely be attributed to differences in age and environmental conditions. Management interventions (free access to food, increased space, decreased population density) in domesticated horses yielded time budgets similar to semi-feral horses. The data support the importance of environmental conditions for horses’ well-being and the ability of time budgets to assist in monitoring horses’ welfare.
Horses’ behavior can provide valuable insight into their subjective state and is thus a good indicator of welfare. However, its complexity requires objective, quantifiable, and unambiguous evidence-based assessment criteria. As healthy, stress-free horses exhibit a highly repetitive daily routine, temporal quantification of their behavioral activities (time budget analysis) can assist in equine welfare assessment. Therefore, the present systematic review aimed to provide an up-to-date analysis of equine time budget studies. A review of the literature yielded 12 papers that fulfilled the inclusion criteria: assessment of equine time budgets for eating, resting and movement for a minimum of 24 continuous hours. A total of 144 horses (1–27 years old), 59 semi-feral and 85 domesticated horses, are included in this review. The 24 h time budgets for foraging or eating (10–6.6%), resting (8.1–66%), lying (2.7–27.3%), and locomotion (0.015–19.1%) showed large variance between studies, which can largely be attributed to differences in age and environmental conditions. Management interventions in domesticated horses (ad libitum access to food, increased space, decreased population density) resulted in time budgets similar to their (semi-)feral conspecifics, emphasizing the importance of environmental conditions and the ability of time budgets to assist in monitoring horses’ welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: horse; equine; activity; time budget; behaviour horse; equine; activity; time budget; behaviour
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MDPI and ACS Style

Auer, U.; Kelemen, Z.; Engl, V.; Jenner, F. Activity Time Budgets—A Potential Tool to Monitor Equine Welfare? Animals 2021, 11, 850. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030850

AMA Style

Auer U, Kelemen Z, Engl V, Jenner F. Activity Time Budgets—A Potential Tool to Monitor Equine Welfare? Animals. 2021; 11(3):850. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030850

Chicago/Turabian Style

Auer, Ulrike; Kelemen, Zsofia; Engl, Veronika; Jenner, Florien. 2021. "Activity Time Budgets—A Potential Tool to Monitor Equine Welfare?" Animals 11, no. 3: 850. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030850

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