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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Feeding time in horses provided roughage in different combinations of haynets and on the stable floor

Lundqvist, Hanna; Muller, Cecilia Elisabeth


Restrictions in forage availability lead to short eating or foraging times which could contribute to reduced welfare in horses. Strategies to maximise foraging time are therefore of interest. One such strategy is to feed forage in small-holed haynets to restrict eating rate, but it can also induce frustrating behaviours in the horse. Other strategies are therefore of interest. The effect of adding straw to a forage-based diet, with and without the use of haynets, on eating and feeding time in horses was examined in this study. Combinations examined were: haylage on the floor and no straw; haylage in haynet and no straw; haylage and straw in the same haynet; and haylage in haynet and straw on the floor. Eight horses were used in a complete change-over study where each treatment lasted for three consecutive days and horses were observed for 2 h during each treatment day. Measurements included forage eating time (minutes per kg dry matter forage), forage eating rate (kg dry matter forage per h), and total feeding time (in minutes per observation period, including effective eating time and feed searching time). Average forage eating time was shorter (P = 0.0004) and average forage eating rate was faster (P = 0.0001) when haylage was fed on the floor with no straw available, compared to all other treatments. Average total feeding time was longer (P < 0.03) for treatments where straw was included compared to treatments without straw. Results showed that feeding forage in haynets prolonged forage eating time and slowed down forage eating rate compared to feeding forage on the floor. The total feeding time was extended by providing straw on the floor in addition to forage in a haynet, or together with the forage in the same haynet. In conclusion, providing straw in addition to forage with or without using a small-holed haynet increased total feeding time and feed searching time compared to treatments without straw


Consumption; Equine; Forage; Haylage; Intake; Straw

Published in

Applied Animal Behaviour Science
2022, volume: 253, article number: 105685
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Lundqvist, Hanna
No organisation
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Veterinary Science
Animal and Dairy Science

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