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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Effects of Horse Housing System on Energy Balance during Post-Exercise Recovery

Connysson, Malin; Rhodin, Marie; Jansson, Anna

Abstract

Simple Summary: Horse management aims to keep horses healthy and ensure good performance and animal welfare. Many horses are currently kept in individual box stalls indoors, a housing system that limits free movement, exploration, and social interaction, and may also subject horses to lower air quality. The alternative is a free-range housing system where horses are kept in groups outdoors. Anecdotal information indicates concerns among sports horse trainers that lack of rest in such systems delays recovery and impairs performance. This study examined whether recovery after competition-like exercise in Standardbred trotters was affected by housing system. The results showed that a free-range housing system did not delay recovery in Standardbred trotters, and in fact had positive effects on appetite and recovery of energy balance.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 (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.

Keywords

NEFA; Standardbred trotters; feed intake

Published in

Animals
2019, volume: 9, number: 11, article number: 976
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

National Center for Education in Trotting, Wången
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110976

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/103319