Poor pasture management results in Australian horse owners using expensive daily supplementary feeding

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

Abstract

Abstract
This study investigated the feeding and management practices of Australian horse owners. Horse owners were
contacted via e-newsletters, Facebook, and email to complete the online survey. Information was collected on
demographics, current feeding practices, management practices and pasture condition. Quantitative analytical
methods included descriptive statistics, Pearson’s chi-square test and a multivariable analysis performed in
IBM SPSS. There were 4265 eligible surveys on 5464 horses used in the statistical analysis. Most horses (87%)
had daily access to grazing areas, but participants reported that 59% of horses were kept in paddocks that were
overgrazed, with a heavy reliance on supplementary feeding. Almost all horses (97%) were fed one or more
roughages daily and 80% of horses were fed one or more commercial pellet, premix or grain concentrate daily.
While only 20% of participants recorded their horses to be obese, this proportion is likely to be an
underestimate, because when pasture intake estimates and reported rations were combined, the results of
nutritional analysis showed that 97% of horses were receiving digestible energy above the National Research
Council (NRC) (2007) recommendation and it is likely that many animals were overweight. Australian horse
owners are underestimating the nutritional content of pastures and overestimating the nutritional requirements
of their horses, placing horses at risk of obesity related health problems. Australian horse owners need to
recognise that well-managed pastures can provide horses with their daily nutritional requirements and this
pathway is a long-term, cost-effective way of feeding horses that also reduces health and behavioural problems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th Australian Agronomy Conference
Subtitle of host publicationCells to Satellites
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event19th Australian Agronomy Conference - Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre, Wagga Wagga, Australia
Duration: 25 Aug 201929 Aug 2019
http://agronomyconference.com/
https://www.agronomyaustralia.org/conference-proceedings (proceedings)
http://agronomyaustraliaproceedings.org/index.php
http://agronomyaustraliaproceedings.org/index.php/2019/41-front-pages/759-2019-index (proceedings)

Conference

Conference19th Australian Agronomy Conference
Abbreviated titleCells to Satellites
Country/TerritoryAustralia
CityWagga Wagga
Period25/08/1929/08/19
OtherThe 19th Australian Agronomy Conference will be held in Wagga Wagga, NSW from
25 – 29 August 2019. In the heart of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga has a range of rural industries across the region. Wagga has everything to offer the agronomy conference being surrounded by a mixed farming zone with irrigation to the west and permanent pasture enterprises to the east.
The conference theme Cells to satellites highlights the integrative nature of agronomy. Each of us work across a range of disciplines to optimise crop or pasture production for productivity and profitability. We have an increasing number of tools available to increase the precision and accuracy of our work; whether it is at the “cellular” level where DNA is mapped and biochemistry is unravelled or using “satellites” for remote sensing or guidance. The opportunities for enhancing our agronomy research is boundless.
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