Methods to Reduce Feeding Time Aggression Studied

When feeding horses in groups, increasing their distance apart and time spent eating might help reduce aggression.

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Methods to Reduce Feeding Time Aggression Studied
An example of lump ground feeding. | Photo: Courtesy Joan-Bryce Burla, PhD

When feeding horses in groups, increasing their distance apart and time spent eating might help reduce aggression, Swiss researchers say.

Wild horses are rarely aggressive during feeding because of the vast open areas and lengthy feeding times, but domestic horses often live in confined spaces with brief feeding times, said Anic Ostertag, MSc, ETH Biology, of the Animal Behaviour, Health, and Welfare Unit of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Zurich. Ostertag presented her study results at the 2014 Swiss Equine Research Day, held April 10 in Avenches.

In their recent study Ostertag and her colleagues found that caretakers can limit aggression during feeding time by separating the horses by distance or barriers and by lengthening the feeding time with hay nets, for example, she said. This finding complements work by Dutch scientists, who found that frequent feeding can help keep aggressive activity low

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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