Nutritional Articles

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The short-term effects of increasing meal frequency on stereotypic behaviour of stabled horses

Published: 2005-05-12

Brief content of the article
The researchers investigated the effect of increasing the number of meals of concentrate on the behaviour of stabled horses with particular reference to stereotypic activities. The horses maintained the same daily intake during the study. The authors selected nine horses from a pilot study, which were used in the main study. In the main study these horses were fed their normal ration of concentrate between two, four or six equally sized meals. The behaviour of the horses was compared with a control group which received two meals per day during the study. The researchers observed that as the number of meals increased, the treatment horses showed a decrease in oral stereotypies but an increase in weaving and nodding prior to feeding. The control group increased weaving and nodding and oral stereotypies as their yard-mates received more meals. This resulted in an overall increase in incidence of stereotypy in both treatment and control group. The author stated that this study suggests that dividing the stabled horses’ concentrate ration into a number of smaller meals may be an effective means of reducing oral stereotypies. However, pre-feeding stereotypies may persist and also may induce stereotypic behavior of horses in visual contact. A full abstract may be obtained from the publisher’s website.
Keywords: behavior; nodding; weaving; feed intake; feed frequency; meal size.

Cooper, J.C., McCall, N., Johnson, S. and Davidson, H.P.B. 2005. The short-term effects of increasing meal frequency on stereotypic behaviour of stabled horses. Appl. Anim. Beh. Sci. 90: 351-364.

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