The increase of stress at weaning may affect foal welfare and lead to the development of abnormal behaviours (AB). Among them, weaving, box walking, wind suckling and wood chewing, due to their repetitiveness, are considered stereotypic behaviours. An online survey was carried out with 22 questions concerning husbandry methods and behaviour of both foals and mares. Mares are defined dominant, middle or low ranking based on the number of threats given and received in the herd. Horses with dominant behaviour are commonly considered less willing to learn in some disciplines, whereas dominant stallions in dressage eventing obtain generally higher scores than others. Therefore, causes, which could affect dominant attitude in foals, were analysed as well. Data from 74 breeders of Central-Northern Italy, describing 148 horses, were analysed to identify husbandry techniques and management risk factors associated with development of AB. Data were compared with surveys in other countries: higher percentage of Italian foals (16.2%) and mares (10.9%) showing AB (vs an average of 5.2% of other studies) and a higher age average at weaning (7vs 5-6 months) were observed. No effect of breed, feeding, paddock size or housing resulted in this study. Taming period was critical for the onset of AB for 4 foals out of 12 presenting AB. Generally, oral-ingestive AB were more frequent (65%) than other AB. Among them, wood chewing was the most frequent (35%). Expression of foal’s normal behaviour is negatively affected by dam aggressiveness toward humans (P<0.05, chi square test). Following observations showed a trend (P<0.1): development of AB in foals may be in relation to AB in mares; foal dominant behaviour may be related with mare’s dominant attitude in the herd and negatively associated with early handling, which seems favourable for normal behaviour expression. The sample may be biased (respondents may be only breeders interested in improving welfare) however this is an inherent problem with all similar studies. Main difference with North Europe countries is lower competence of the Italian equine sector. Despite the low number of animal sample, the survey can give some indications on the origin of AB in horses.
|Titolo:||Foal weaning in Italy: management and factors associated with the development of abnormal behaviours|
MARTUZZI, Francesca (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2018|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||4.2 Abstract in Atti di Convegno|