Behavioural and physiological effects of virginiamycin in the diets of horses with stereotypies

Rafael Freire, Heather Ip, Petra Buckley, Michael Friend, Paul Mcgreevy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Since the advent of the use of virginiamycin in the prevention of laminitis, anecdotal reports of its effectiveness in reducing the frequency of oral stereotypies have become common. This study examined the effects of dietary supplementation with virginiamycin versus a placebo on behaviour, physiology and digestibility in a group of 17 thoroughbred geldings, comprising cribbers (n=5), weavers (n=6) and control horses (n=6), over a period of 16 weeks. Virginiamycin had no effect on stereotypic behaviour, though it reduced explorative behaviour, possibly related to a reduction in feeding motivation. Virginiamycin increased water intake in cribbers and decreased water intake in control horses, though it was not possible to eliminate possible confounding factors for this effect. Virginiamycin was not found to have any other significant effects on behaviour, physiology or digestibility. We conclude that hindgut fermentation may not be a major contributing factor to crib-biting in horses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-417
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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