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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Differential Defecation of Solid and Liquid Phases in Horses-A Descriptive Survey

Lindroth, Katrin; Johansen, Astrid; Båverud, Viveca; Dicksved, Johan; Lindberg, Jan Erik; Müller, Cecilia

Abstract

Simple Summary Free faecal liquid is a condition in horses where faeces are voided in one solid and one liquid phase. The presence of free faecal liquid may cause management problems in equine husbandry and is potentially contributing to impaired equine welfare. Causes of free faecal liquid are not known, but nutritional factors such as the feeding of specific forages have been suggested to be of importance. Characterization of horses showing free faecal liquid and their feeding and management was, therefore, performed via an internet-based survey in order to map the condition further. Results showed that horses with free faecal liquid included a large variety of different breeds, ages, disciplines, coat colours, housing systems and feeding strategies, meaning that almost any type of horse could be affected. Horses that were reported to show free faecal liquid did so with all types of feeding strategies, but changes from wrapped forage to hay, to pasture, or to another batch of wrapped forage often resulted in diminished signs of free faecal liquid. Horses were also reported to have a comparably high incidence of colic in relation to published data for other horse populations. The results indicated that more detailed studies are required for a further understanding of the underlying cause of free faecal liquid.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 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.

Keywords

colic; equine; free faecal liquid; faecal water syndrome; feed changes; nutrition

Published in

Animals
2020, Volume: 10, number: 1, article number: 76