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Article

Equine Activity Time Budgets: The Effect of Housing and Management Conditions on Geriatric Horses and Horses with Chronic Orthopaedic Disease

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Equine Surgery Unit, University Equine Hospital, Department of Companion Animals and Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
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Unit of Ethics and Human-Animal-Studies, Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, University of Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
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Equine Internal Medicine Unit, University Equine Hospital, Department of Companion Animals and Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
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Anaesthesiology and Perioperative Intensive Care Medicine Unit, Department of Companion Animals and Horses, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Glenys Noble
Animals 2021, 11(7), 1867; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071867
Received: 31 May 2021 / Revised: 17 June 2021 / Accepted: 18 June 2021 / Published: 23 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Husbandry-Nutrition, Management and Welfare)
Housing and management conditions strongly influence the health, welfare and activity behaviour of horses. To improve horses’ living conditions, it is necessary to establish objective and quantifiable measures that allow for a comparison between environmental living conditions and of how horses of different ages and health statuses are influenced by these environmental conditions. Thus, the aim of the present study was to record and compare time budgets (=percentage of time spent on specific activities) of old (≥20 years) horses and of horses suffering from chronic orthopaedic disease that are living in different husbandry conditions with an automated tracking device. These horses were found to spend similar percentages of time feeding, resting and moving compared to healthy controls. Horses living on different farms and with different turn-out conditions differed in their time budgets. Horses living in open-air group housing on a paddock had less pronounced peaks in their feeding and movement activities over time compared to horses living in more restricted husbandry systems. The findings of the study can help to identify potential improvements of husbandry conditions of horses to maximise their health and welfare.
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: horse; equine; activity; time budget; behaviour horse; equine; activity; time budget; behaviour
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kelemen, Z.; Grimm, H.; Vogl, C.; Long, M.; Cavalleri, J.M.V.; Auer, U.; Jenner, F. Equine Activity Time Budgets: The Effect of Housing and Management Conditions on Geriatric Horses and Horses with Chronic Orthopaedic Disease. Animals 2021, 11, 1867. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071867

AMA Style

Kelemen Z, Grimm H, Vogl C, Long M, Cavalleri JMV, Auer U, Jenner F. Equine Activity Time Budgets: The Effect of Housing and Management Conditions on Geriatric Horses and Horses with Chronic Orthopaedic Disease. Animals. 2021; 11(7):1867. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071867

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kelemen, Zsofia, Herwig Grimm, Claus Vogl, Mariessa Long, Jessika M.V. Cavalleri, Ulrike Auer, and Florien Jenner. 2021. "Equine Activity Time Budgets: The Effect of Housing and Management Conditions on Geriatric Horses and Horses with Chronic Orthopaedic Disease" Animals 11, no. 7: 1867. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071867

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