Stall Mat Preference in Miniature Horses
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Animal Sciences Undergraduate Research Theses; 2015
Horses spend time in stalls for a variety of reasons which may include practices designed to improve nutrition, breeding and pasture management as well as recovery from injury. With increased stall confinement, bedding materials and rubber mats were added to stalls to improve the absorption of urine and provide insulation and cushion from the stall floor. Although there have been several studies evaluating horse preference for bedding materials, there are no studies evaluating horse preference for stall mats. The objective of this study was to evaluate horse preference and behavior when stalled on rubber mats. To do this, four Miniature Horse geldings (6.5 ± 1.1 yr; 122.8 ± 18.8 kg) were housed individually in adjacent stalls for a period of 16 d. Stalls were bedded with wood shavings and rubber stall mats covering one-half of the stall floor were placed beneath the bedding material. Stall mats were moved to the opposite side of the stall every 2 d. Horse behavior was recorded daily for 4 h during the day (1200 to 1600 h) and 4 h during the night (0000 to 0400 h). Behavior observations were recorded every 5 min during the observation period using a scan sampling technique. Data were analyzed using the GLIMMIX procedure for generalized linear mixed models. Standing and lying behaviors were observed more often when the horses were in the front of the stall, regardless of the location of the rubber stall mat. In contrast, all other behaviors (eating, drinking, defecating, itching and rolling) occurred more often in the back of the stall during the observation periods regardless of the location of the rubber stall mat. Overall, this study suggests that horses do not have a preference for bedded surfaces with stall mats underneath, but rather prefer a specific location in a stall.
Academic Major: Animal Sciences
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