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Association in horses of orosensory characteristics of foods with their post-ingestive consequences
Brief content of the article
The authors questioned wether or not horses have the ability to learn the consequences of consuming unnatural foodstuffs and adapt their selection accordingly. For that, the authors studied the horse feeding preferences when presented with concentrate pellets differing in nutrient content. A choice test was used for testing the preference of 12 horses for mint or garlic in iso-caloric diets. The horses were after this test divided into two groups, approximately balanced on the mint preference shown in the first test. Group A was exposed to a choice of a mint-flavoured lower energy food or a garlic-flavoured higher energy food for 29 meals. Next the flavours were presented in iso-caloric feed, initially for 10 meals, then a further 40, before the flavour pairings were reversed for 30 meals. A final iso-caloric test was carried out for 30 meals. For fully detailed results we refer to the article. However, the results suggest that horses can select a higher energy diet over a lower energy one and that horses can form associations between foods and their nutritional composition, even if they do not resemble those found in their natural environment.
Keywords: garlic; mint; behavior; preferences.
Cairns, M.C. Cooper, J.J. Davidson, P.B. and D.S. Mills. 2002. Association in horses of orosensory characteristics of foods with their post-ingestive consequences. Anim. Science 75: 257-265
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