Feeding and management practices amongst Australian horse owners

Claudia Macleay, Petra Buckley, Mark Barnett

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

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Abstract

Nutrition plays a critical role in equine health and welfare, and inappropriate feeding has been linked to many health problems in horses. This survey aimed to investigate current equine feeding and management practices across Australia. An online survey required participants to complete questions on demographics, as well as the current management, workload and feeding practices for one horse. A total of 4573 responses were received with data on 5646 horses collected. Though 89 % (n= 4148) of horses had daily pasture access of 6 hours or more, 90 % (n=4628) of horses were given supplementary feeding. It is likely that many owners were feeding their horses due to poor pasture management, with 59% (n=2858) of pastures overgrazed. Furthermore, nutritional analysis of the rations (n=3356) using the NRC formulas found 30% of horses were fed excess dietary energy, while 50 % received excess crude protein, 68 % excess calcium, 57% excess phosphorous, 61 % excess sodium, 43% excess chloride, 58% excess magnesium and 90% excess potassium. It is likely that these figures would be higher if the nutritional composition of the pasture were included in the analysis. Furthermore 65% of owners classed their horses in a good body condition score (BCS). However this may not be accurate as previous studies have found owners frequently underestimate their horses BCS. The results of this study recommend that owners need to be educated in the role of pasture in the equine diet and that good pasture management can replace a supplementary feeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages95-95
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Event13th International Conference of the International Society for Equitation Science : ISES 2017 Down Under - Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia
Duration: 23 Nov 201725 Nov 2017
Conference number: 13
https://equitationscience.com/previous-conferences/2017-13th-international-conference (Conference website, link to proceedings)

Conference

Conference13th International Conference of the International Society for Equitation Science
Abbreviated titleEquitation Science in Practice: Collaboration, Communication and Change
CountryAustralia
CityWagga Wagga
Period23/11/1725/11/17
OtherThe 13th international conference of the International Society for Equitation Science took place on 23rd-25th November 2017 at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia. This was the third time that the conference was in Australia (following Clonbinane, Victoria in 2005 and Sydney in 2009). Charles Sturt University is one of the few providers of degree level Equine Science education in Australia with ample equestrian facilities to host an international conference of this calibre, with the support of a wide range of sponsors.

The conference theme ‘Equitation Science in Practice: Collaboration, Communication and Change’ attracted over 150 delegates from 17 different countries and all Australian states. The theme was supported by an academic programme of 29 oral presentations and 28 posters. Delegates learnt about the role of the horse in education including breeding work, foal handling and contribution to the veterinary industry and survival of other horses. Each of the 3Cs (Collaboration, Communication and Change) were thoroughly addressed and the two workshops - Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (designed to develop an appreciation of the pillars of Equitation Science in order to identify future directions with valuable input from ISES Honorary Fellows all of whom have been globally recognised for their contribution to Animal Welfare) and Human Behaviour Change (designed to identify key areas where change in human practice is needed to improve horse welfare) were enjoyed by Practitioners and Academics, Students and Honorary Fellows alike.

The conference was fully and actively supported by senior Charles Sturt University staff (Prof Glenn Edwards, Head of School of Animal and Veterinary Science, Prof Tim Wess, Executive Dean of Science and Prof Andrew Vann, Vice Chancellor).
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