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Daytime shelter use of individually kept horses during Swedish summer

Daytime shelter use of individually kept horses during Swedish summer

Hartmann, E., Hopkins, Richard ORCID: 0000-0003-4935-5825, Blomgren, E., Ventorp, M., von Brömssen, C. and Dahlborn, K. (2015) Daytime shelter use of individually kept horses during Swedish summer. Journal of Animal Science, 93 (2). pp. 802-810. ISSN 1525-3163 (doi:

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In Sweden, no provision for summer shelter to protect horses from heat and insects is required, although access to shelter for horses kept outdoors 24 h during winter is a requirement. This study investigated horses’ daytime shelter-seeking behavior in relation to weather conditions and insect activity during a 2-wk period in summer. Eight Warmblood riding horses had access to 2 shelters of different design to test which shelter design is preferred by horses. Furthermore, rectal and skin temperatures and insect-defensive behavior were measured to test whether horses would benefit from the provision of shade. The horses were kept alone in paddocks for 4 d. During 2 d, horses had access to 2 shelters: 1) open shelter with roof and uncovered sides and 2) closed shelter with roof, wind nets on 2 sides, and opaque plastic opposite the entrance. Weather conditions (ambient temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed) were recorded every 10 min. The number of insects (flies, mosquitos) was counted from insect traps placed in each shelter and outside. Behavior (shelter use, insect-defensive behavior, locomotion, grazing) was recorded at 5-min intervals between 0900 to 1200 h and 1300 to 1600 h and rectal and skin temperatures were measured at 0800 h, 1200 h, and 1600 h. Data were analyzed with PROC MIXED and GLIMMIX procedure for Generalized Linear Mixed Models. Ambient temperature ranged from 16 to 25°C (average temperature humidity index 65.7 ± 1.4). Five horses preferred the closed shelter and were observed inside up to 2.5 h continuously. Greater wind speed decreased the likelihood of observing horses inside the shelter (P < 0.001), as did lower numbers of flies (P < 0.001). The insect-defensive behaviors, skin shiver and ear flick, were performed less frequently when horses were using the closed shelter (P < 0.001), indicating that they were less disturbed by insects. Thirty-minute shelter use had no effect on rectal and skin temperatures (P > 0.05). Results showed that horses made use of shelters during the summer even when weather conditions were moderate. A shelter with roof and covers on 3 sides was preferred over a shelter with roof only and can reduce insect-defensive behavior.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: "The authors thank Sylvie Dartois for assistance with data collection and data entry and the staff at Jälla Agricultural High School for all practical support and provision of horses."
Uncontrolled Keywords: equine; housing; insects; shelter; weather; welfare
Subjects: S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Pest Behaviour Research Group
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2016 09:13

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