Could moving away from conventional grazing systems help weight management? Dr Tamzin Furtado reports
WITH equine obesity at alarming levels in the UK, managing weight is becoming an important part of everyday horse care. Traditionally, weight management is achieved through stabling, muzzle use, increased exercise or the use of “starvation paddocks”, but some owners are seeking methods which do not restrict their horses’ access to the “three Fs”: friends, forage and freedom.
A survey of UK owners conducted last summer explored the use of alternative grazing systems, not just for keeping weight under control but also for reasons such as the management of arthritis and behavioural issues related to stress. Each option aimed to provide enriched turnout areas, where horses can live in groups and access a range of low-calorie forages.
It is important to note that no one system was a panacea for every owner; all have their pros and cons, highlighting that any changes should be considered on an individual level. These innovative ideas provide food for thought, however, for welfare-friendly weight control.
This feature can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 29 April
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