Horse Feeding and Management

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Equids".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 December 2019) | Viewed by 72301

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Guest Editor
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Production Systems, Tietotie 2, 31600 Jokioinen, Finland
Interests: animal production; animal physiology; animal breeding; feed formulation; feeding; animal husbandry; animal genetics; forage; feed evaluation; pasture management; equine; canine
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Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisboa 1000-001, Portugal
Interests: equine production systems; equine nutrition; growth and development of the Lusitano horse; body condition and metabolic indicators; bone physiology and bone quality assessment

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Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish Agricultural University, 741 92 Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: equine nutrition and management, especially forage production and utilization for horses, hygienic quality of feeds, equine health and welfare in relation to feeding and nutrition

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Proper nutrition is one of the main objectives to ensure the well-being and good performance of horses. It influences the growth, reproduction, performance capacity, and health of the horse. Horse feeding is challenging for many horse owners as well as horse trainers and breeders. Many horses suffer from overweight as well as many diseases associated with nutrition. Further, other management issues, including stable and environmental conditions and feeding systems, have a major impact on the health and well-being of horses. Vice versa, horses’ management influences their environment. In addition, there are many innovations in horse feeding and management. The aim of this Special Issue is to publish original research papers or reviews concerning horse nutrition and management (including all breeds and different purposes and horse categories), and the interrelations between management, nutrition, health, wellbeing, and environment.

Areas of interest: nutrient availability and requirements of various horse categories; effects of feeding and management on performance, growth, well-being and health of the horse, as well as on the environment; feeds and feed ingredients

We invite you to share your recent findings through this Special Issue.

Dr. Markku Saastamoinen
Dr. Maria João Fradinho
Dr. Cecilia Muller
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • horse
  • equine
  • nutrition
  • feeds
  • feeding
  • management
  • well-being
  • environment
  • health

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 1771 KiB  
Article
Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Horse Feeding and Management Practices to Reduce the Risk of Atypical Myopathy
by Dominique-Marie Votion, Anne-Christine François, Caroline Kruse, Benoit Renaud, Arnaud Farinelle, Marie-Catherine Bouquieaux, Christel Marcillaud-Pitel and Pascal Gustin
Animals 2020, 10(2), 365; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020365 - 24 Feb 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 7886
Abstract
In 2014, atypical myopathy (AM) was linked to Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple) in Europe. The emergence of this seasonal intoxication caused by a native tree has raised many questions. This manuscript aims at answering the five most frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding (1) [...] Read more.
In 2014, atypical myopathy (AM) was linked to Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple) in Europe. The emergence of this seasonal intoxication caused by a native tree has raised many questions. This manuscript aims at answering the five most frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding (1) identification of toxic trees; reduction of risk at the level of (2) pastures and (3) equids; (4) the risk associated with pastures with sycamores that have always been used without horses being poisoned and (5) the length of the risk periods. Answers were found in a literature review and data gathered by AM surveillance networks. A guide is offered to differentiate common maple trees (FAQ1). In order to reduce the risk of AM at pasture level: Avoid humid pastures; permanent pasturing; spreading of manure for pasture with sycamores in the vicinity and avoid sycamore maple trees around pasture (FAQ2). To reduce the risk of AM at horse level: Reduce pasturing time according to weather conditions and to less than six hours a day during risk periods for horses on risk pasture; provide supplementary feeds including toxin-free forage; water from the distribution network; vitamins and a salt block (FAQ3). All pastures with a sycamore tree in the vicinity are at risk (FAQ4). Ninety-four percent of cases occur over two 3-month periods, starting in October and in March, for cases resulting from seeds and seedlings ingestion, respectively (FAQ5). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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12 pages, 283 KiB  
Article
Effect of Linseed (Linum usitatissimum) Groats-Based Mixed Feed Supplements on Diet Nutrient Digestibility and Blood Parameters of Horses
by Markku Saastamoinen and Susanna Särkijärvi
Animals 2020, 10(2), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020272 - 10 Feb 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3163
Abstract
Linseed (Linum usitatissimum) and its by-products are common supplements used in equine diets and are claimed to have beneficial health effects. In this study, the effect of linseed groat-based fibrous feed supplements on diet digestibility was studied. Also, possible detrimental health [...] Read more.
Linseed (Linum usitatissimum) and its by-products are common supplements used in equine diets and are claimed to have beneficial health effects. In this study, the effect of linseed groat-based fibrous feed supplements on diet digestibility was studied. Also, possible detrimental health effects due to continuous feeding of supplemental feeds containing linseed were examined by evaluating blood parameters. The experimental design was arranged as two balanced 3 × 3 Latin Squares. The horses were individually fed at the maintenance energy level, the forage-to-concentrate ratio being 70:30, with three diets: (A) Control diet consisting of dried hay and whole oats; (B) Control diet + Feed 1; and (C) Control diet + Feed 2. Feed 1 contained 70% of linseed groats, 15% dried carrot, 10% dried garlic and 5% molasses. Feed 2 contained 65% linseed groats, 15% molassed sugar-beet pulp, 10% dried garlic, 5% dried carrot and 5% molasses. Digestibility data were obtained by using chromium mordanted straw as an indigestible external marker for the estimation of apparent digestibility. Blood samples were collected from the jugular vein at the end of each feeding period to evaluate the possible effects of the supplemented diets B and C on the health of the horses. Diets B and C had a higher digestibility of crude protein compared to the control diet A (p < 0.05). In addition, the digestibility of ether extract was higher in the supplemented diets than in the basal feeding (p < 0.01). There were no statistically significant differences or trends (p > 0.05) in the blood parameters between the treatments. It is concluded that linseed groat-based supplements (offering approximately 6.3%–6.7% linseed groats in the diet’s dry matter (DM), or 0.8 g/kg BW/d), and feed containing soluble fibre sources (sugar-beet pulp, dehydrated carrot), improved the crude protein and fat digestibility of hay-oats diets of horses, and can be used, for example, in feeding strategies replacing grains in the horse rations in order to reduce the intake of starch without any adverse effects on the blood parameters and health of the horses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
14 pages, 308 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Diet Composition on the Digestibility and Fecal Excretion of Phosphorus in Horses: A Potential Risk of P Leaching?
by Markku Saastamoinen, Susanna Särkijärvi and Elisa Valtonen
Animals 2020, 10(1), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010140 - 15 Jan 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3478
Abstract
The main horse phosphorus excretion pathway is through the dung. Phosphorus originating from animal dung and manure has harmful environmental effects on waters. The number of horses has increased in many countries, and several studies have pointed that leaching of P from horse [...] Read more.
The main horse phosphorus excretion pathway is through the dung. Phosphorus originating from animal dung and manure has harmful environmental effects on waters. The number of horses has increased in many countries, and several studies have pointed that leaching of P from horse paddocks and pastures are hotspots for high P leaching losses. The hypothesis was that feeding regimes might influence phosphorus digestibility and excretion in feces, and therefore the environmental impact of horse husbandry. A digestibility experiment was conducted with six horses fed six forage-based diets to study phosphorus utilization and excretion in feces. The study method was a total collection of feces. The experimental design was arranged as an unbalanced 6 × 4 Latin Squares. Phosphorus intake increased with an increasing concentrate intake. All studied diets resulted in a positive P balance and, the P retention differed from zero in all except the only-hay diet, in which the intake was lower compared to the other diets. The digestibility of P varied from 2.7 to 11.1%, and supplementing forage-diets with concentrates slightly improved P digestibility (p = 0.024), as it also improved the digestibilities of crude protein (p = 0.002) and organic matter (p = 0.077). The horses excreted an average of 20.9 ± 1.4 g/d P in feces. Excretion was smallest (20.0 g) in horses on a hay-only diet (p = 0.021). The average daily phosphorus excretion resulted in 7.6 kg P per year. The soluble P part of the total P in feces accounted for about 88% of the P excreted in feces, and is vulnerable to runoff losses and may leach into waters. Thus, horse dung may pose a potential risk of P leaching into the environment if not properly managed, and is not less harmful to the environment than that from other farm animals. Supplementation with inorganic P should be controlled in the diets of mature horses in light work to decrease the excretion of P in feces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
18 pages, 1910 KiB  
Article
Differential Defecation of Solid and Liquid Phases in Horses—A Descriptive Survey
by Katrin M. Lindroth, Astrid Johansen, Viveca Båverud, Johan Dicksved, Jan Erik Lindberg and Cecilia E. Müller
Animals 2020, 10(1), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010076 - 1 Jan 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 7075
Abstract
Free faecal liquid (FFL) is a condition in horses where faeces are voided in one solid and one liquid phase. The liquid phase contaminates the tail, hindlegs and area around the anus of the horse, resulting in management problems and potentially contributing to [...] Read more.
Free faecal liquid (FFL) is a condition in horses where faeces are voided in one solid and one liquid phase. The liquid phase contaminates the tail, hindlegs and area around the anus of the horse, resulting in management problems and potentially contributing to impaired equine welfare. The underlying causes are not known, but anecdotal suggestions include feeding wrapped forages or other feed- or management-related factors. Individual horse factors may also be associated with the presence of FFL. This study, therefore, aimed to characterize horses showing FFL particularly when fed wrapped forages, and to map the management and feeding strategies of these horses. Data were retrieved by a web-based survey, including 339 horses with FFL. A large variety of different breeds, ages, disciplines, coat colours, housing systems and feeding strategies were represented among the horses in the study, meaning that any type of horse could be affected. Respondents were asked to indicate if their horse had diminished signs of FFL with different changes in forage feeding. Fifty-eight percent (n = 197) of the horse owners reported diminished signs of FFL in their horses when changing from wrapped forages to hay; 46 (n = 156) of the horse owners reported diminished signs of FFL in their horses when changing from wrapped forages to pasture; 17% (n = 58) reported diminished signs of FFL when changing from any type of forage batch to any other forage. This indicated that feeding strategy may be of importance, but cannot solely explain the presence of FFL. The results also showed that the horses in this study had a comparably high incidence of previous colic (23%, n = 78) compared to published data from other horse populations. In conclusion, the results showed that FFL may affect a large variety of horse types and that further studies should include detailed data on individual horse factors including gastrointestinal diseases as well as feeding strategies, in order to increase the chance of finding causes of FFL. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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19 pages, 822 KiB  
Article
Digestibility and Retention Time of Coastal Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) Hay by Horses
by Tayler L. Hansen, Elisabeth L. Chizek, Olivia K. Zugay, Jessica M. Miller, Jill M. Bobel, Jessie W. Chouinard, Angie M. Adkin, Leigh Ann Skurupey and Lori K. Warren
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1148; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121148 - 14 Dec 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3351
Abstract
Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) and other warm-season grasses are known for their increased fiber concentrations and reduced digestibility relative to cool-season grasses and legumes. This study investigated the digestive characteristics and passage kinetics of three maturities of Coastal bermudagrass hay. A 5 [...] Read more.
Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) and other warm-season grasses are known for their increased fiber concentrations and reduced digestibility relative to cool-season grasses and legumes. This study investigated the digestive characteristics and passage kinetics of three maturities of Coastal bermudagrass hay. A 5 × 5 Latin square design experiment was used to compare the digestion of five hays: alfalfa (Medicago sativa, ALF), orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata, ORCH), and Coastal bermudagrass harvested at 4 (CB 4), 6 (CB 6), and 8 weeks of regrowth (CB 8). Horses were fed cobalt-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (Co-EDTA) and ytterbium (Yb) labeled neutral detergent fiber (NDF) before an 84-h total fecal collection to determine digesta retention time. Dry matter digestibility was greatest for ALF (62.1%) and least for CB 6 (36.0%) and CB 8 diets (36.8%, SEM = 2.1; p < 0.05). Mean retention time was longer (p < 0.05) for Coastal bermudagrass (particulate 31.3 h, liquid 25.3 h) compared with ORCH and ALF (28.0 h, SEM = 0.88 h; 20.7 h, SEM = 0.70 h). Further evaluation of digesta passage kinetics through mathematical modeling indicated ALF had distinct parameters compared to the other diets. Differences in digestive variables between forage types are likely a consequence of fiber physiochemical properties, warranting further investigation on forage fiber and digestive health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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9 pages, 320 KiB  
Article
Effects of Horse Housing System on Energy Balance during Post-Exercise Recovery
by Malin Connysson, Marie Rhodin and Anna Jansson
Animals 2019, 9(11), 976; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110976 - 14 Nov 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 6322
Abstract
This study examined the effects of two housing systems (free-range and box stalls) on recovery of energy balance after competition-like exercise in Standardbred horses. Eight adult geldings (mean age 11 years) were used. The study had a change-over design, with the box stall [...] Read more.
This study examined the effects of two housing systems (free-range and box stalls) on recovery of energy balance after competition-like exercise in Standardbred horses. Eight adult geldings (mean age 11 years) were used. The study had a change-over design, with the box stall (BOX) and free-range group housing (FreeR) treatments each run for 21 days. The horses were fed forage ad libitum and performed two similar race-like exercise tests (ET), on day 7 and day 14 in each treatment. Forage intake was recorded during the last 6–7 days in each period. Blood samples were collected before, during, and until 44 h after ET. Voluntary forage intake (measured in groups with four horses in each group) was higher in FreeR horses than BOX horses (FreeR: 48, BOX: 39, standard error of the mean (SEM) 1.7 kg (p = 0.003)). Plasma non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) was lower at 20–44 h of recovery than before in FreeR horses (p = 0.022), but not in BOX horses. Housing did not affect exercise heart rate, plasma lactate, plasma urea, or total plasma protein concentration. Thus the free-range housing system hastened recovery in Standardbred trotters, contradicting anecdotal claims that it delays recovery. The free-range housing also had positive effects on appetite and recovery of energy balance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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11 pages, 265 KiB  
Article
Characterization of Feeding, Sport Management, and Routine Care of the Chilean Corralero Horse during Rodeo Season
by Joaquín Bull, Fernando Bas, Macarena Silva-Guzmán, Hope Helen Wentzel, Juan Pablo Keim and Mónica Gandarillas
Animals 2019, 9(9), 697; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090697 - 17 Sep 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3053
Abstract
The aim of this study was to characterize the routine care, training, feeding, and nutritional management of Chilean corralero horses that participated in the rodeos of the Chilean Rodeo Federation. Forty-nine horse farms between the Metropolitan (33°26′16″ south (S) 70°39′01″ west (W)) and [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to characterize the routine care, training, feeding, and nutritional management of Chilean corralero horses that participated in the rodeos of the Chilean Rodeo Federation. Forty-nine horse farms between the Metropolitan (33°26′16″ south (S) 70°39′01″ west (W)) and Los Lagos Regions (41°28′18″ S 72°56′12″ W), were visited and a survey was conducted on the management and feeding of the Chilean horse. Of the horses which participated in at least one official rodeo in the 2014–2015 season, 275 horses were included in the study. The survey consisted of five questions about general data on the property and the respondent, four questions on the animal characteristics, five questions about where the horses were kept during the day, seven questions to characterize the amount of exercise done by the horse, and 18 questions about feeding practices; additionally, the amount of feed offered was weighed. All horses in this study were in training and kept in their stall for at least 12 h and remained tied or loose for the rest of the day. The intensity of daily exercise of the rodeo Chilean horse could be classified as moderate to heavy and consisted of being worked six days/week and participating in two rodeos/month. Ninety-eight percent of respondents had watering devices in the stables. The diet of the Chilean corralero horse during the training season is based on forages, mainly alfalfa hay, plus oats as an additional energy source. Protein supplements such as oil seed by-products are used less frequently. A wide variation was observed in the diets and quantities of feed offered, which suggests that the feeding management of these individuals is not formulated according to their requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
10 pages, 1034 KiB  
Article
Eye Blink Rates and Eyelid Twitches as a Non-Invasive Measure of Stress in the Domestic Horse
by Katrina Merkies, Chloe Ready, Leanne Farkas and Abigail Hodder
Animals 2019, 9(8), 562; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080562 - 15 Aug 2019
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 13844
Abstract
Physiological changes provide indices of stress responses, however, behavioural measures may be easier to determine. Spontaneous eye blink rate has potential as a non-invasive indicator of stress. Eyelid movements, along with heart rate (HR) and behaviour, from 33 horses were evaluated over four [...] Read more.
Physiological changes provide indices of stress responses, however, behavioural measures may be easier to determine. Spontaneous eye blink rate has potential as a non-invasive indicator of stress. Eyelid movements, along with heart rate (HR) and behaviour, from 33 horses were evaluated over four treatments: (1) control—horse in its normal paddock environment; (2) feed restriction—feed was withheld at regular feeding time; (3) separation—horse was removed from visual contact with their paddock mates; and (4) startle test—a ball was suddenly thrown on the ground in front of the horse. HR data was collected every five s throughout each three min test. Eyelid movements and behaviours were retrospectively determined from video recordings. A generalized linear mixed model (GLIMMIX) procedure with Sidak’s multiple comparisons of least squares means demonstrated that both full blinks (16 ± 12b vs. 15 ± 15b vs. 13 ± 11b vs. 26 ± 20a full blinks/3 min ± SEM; a,b differ p < 0.006) and half blinks (34 ± 15ab vs. 27 ± 14bc vs. 25 ± 13c vs. 42 ± 22a half blinks/3 min ± SEM; a,b,c differ p < 0.0001) decreased during feed restriction, separation and the startle test compared to the control, respectively. Eyelid twitches occurred more frequently in feed restriction (p < 0.0001) along with an increased HR (p < 0.0001). This study demonstrates that spontaneous blink rate decreases while eyelid twitches increase when the horse experiences a stressful situation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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15 pages, 1369 KiB  
Article
Impact of Year-Round Grazing by Horses on Pasture Nutrient Dynamics and the Correlation with Pasture Nutrient Content and Fecal Nutrient Composition
by Sara Ringmark, Anna Skarin and Anna Jansson
Animals 2019, 9(8), 500; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080500 - 29 Jul 2019
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 9169
Abstract
Horse grazing may benefit biodiversity, but the impact of year-round grazing on nutrient dynamics has not been evaluated previously. This study compared pasture quality in a forest-grassland landscape grazed year-round by horses with that in exclosed mown areas. Twelve Gotlandsruss stallions were kept [...] Read more.
Horse grazing may benefit biodiversity, but the impact of year-round grazing on nutrient dynamics has not been evaluated previously. This study compared pasture quality in a forest-grassland landscape grazed year-round by horses with that in exclosed mown areas. Twelve Gotlandsruss stallions were kept without supplementary feeding in three enclosures (~0.35 horse/ha) outside Uppsala, Sweden, from May 2014 to September 2016. Each enclosure contained three mown exclosures, where grass sward samples were collected monthly and analyzed for chemical composition and vegetation density. Fecal grab samples were collected and analyzed for crude protein (CP) and organic matter (OM) content. There were no differences in exclosure pasture energy or CP content between enclosures (p > 0.05). In grazed areas, there were differences in grass energy and CP content (p > 0.05) between enclosures. During the three summers studied, energy and CP content increased in the enclosures, but decreased in the exclosures. By the end, biomass content/ha was greater in the enclosures than in the exclosures. Fecal OM and CP content showed moderate to strong correlations with pasture nutrient content (r = 0.3–0.8, p < 0.05). Thus, in contrast to monthly mowing, horse grazing diversified pasture chemical composition and increased its nutritive value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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Review

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17 pages, 644 KiB  
Review
Equine Milk Production and Valorization of Marginal Areas—A Review
by Nicoletta Miraglia, Elisabetta Salimei and Francesco Fantuz
Animals 2020, 10(2), 353; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020353 - 22 Feb 2020
Cited by 36 | Viewed by 5482
Abstract
The equine dairy chain is renewing the interest toward horse and donkey breeding for the production of milk with potential health promoting properties. The dairy equine chain for human consumption could contribute to the rural eco-sustainable development for the micro-economies of those areas [...] Read more.
The equine dairy chain is renewing the interest toward horse and donkey breeding for the production of milk with potential health promoting properties. The dairy equine chain for human consumption could contribute to the rural eco-sustainable development for the micro-economies of those areas threatened by marginalization. As a part of the whole equine industry, and its possible impact in the modern and future society, the main traits of the equine dairy enterprise are reviewed with a special focus on management of animals and milk. Equine milk compositional and nutritional peculiarities are described as also related to milk hygiene and health issues. Scientific and technical aspects of the feeding management are considered in the frame of the emerging dairy equine enterprise, where pasture is an essential element that allows to match production goals for horses and donkeys, biodiversity preservation, as well as landscape safeguard. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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21 pages, 1361 KiB  
Review
Green Assets of Equines in the European Context of the Ecological Transition of Agriculture
by Agata Rzekęć, Céline Vial and Geneviève Bigot
Animals 2020, 10(1), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010106 - 8 Jan 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 6132
Abstract
Despite the decline of equine populations in the middle of the 20th century, the European horse industry is growing again thanks to economic alternatives found in the diversification of the uses of equines (sports, racing, leisure, etc.). Equines have many environmental advantages, but [...] Read more.
Despite the decline of equine populations in the middle of the 20th century, the European horse industry is growing again thanks to economic alternatives found in the diversification of the uses of equines (sports, racing, leisure, etc.). Equines have many environmental advantages, but the fragmentation of the sector and the lack of synthetic knowledge about their environmental impacts do not enable the promotion of these assets and their effective inclusion in management practices and European policies. To highlight the equine environmental impacts, a literature review was carried out to cover the main European stakes. This work led to the identification of five “green assets”, fields where equines show unique environmental advantages compared to other agricultural productions. These green assets are linked to the nature of equines (grazing and domestic biodiversity), to their geographical distribution (land use), and to their use by human beings (tourism and work). Today, when searching for sustainable solutions to modern environmental issues, the use of equines is a neglected green alternative. Better knowledge and use of equine green assets could partly respond to more ecological agricultural needs and contribute to the development of this animal industry, which has a place in regional development and in Europe’s sustainable transition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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Other

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1 pages, 162 KiB  
Erratum
Erratum: Saastamoinen, M.; Särkijärvi, S.; Valtonen, E. The Effect of Diet Composition on the Digestibility and Fecal Excretion of Phosphorus in Horses: A Potential Risk of P Leaching? Animals 2020, 10, 140
by Markku Saastamoinen, Susanna Särkijärvi and Elisa Valtonen
Animals 2020, 10(2), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020285 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1339
Abstract
The authors wish to make the following corrections to their paper [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horse Feeding and Management)
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