Welfare-in-Action Individual Turnout

INDIVIDUAL TURNOUT

Forward by Jo Hockenhull

As a social species, equines rarely voluntarily spend time alone. Being part of a group provides equines with companionship and a sense of security, enabling them to perform social behaviours such as mutual grooming and play, as well as giving them a safe context in which to rest and sleep while others keep vigilant for any threats.

Within a domestic setting the social nature of equines is often overlooked. One management practice that ignores the social requirements of equines is individual turn-out. Often these individual paddocks or grazing strips, typically surrounded by electric fencing, are alongside other areas containing single equines and there is a common perception that as long as the equine can see or hear other equines their social needs are being met.

However, research has shown that being able to see but not fully interact with other equines may be highly frustrating and that horses will work hard to gain full body contact with other individuals. Consequently, the practice of turning horses out individually is likely to have negative implications for equine welfare.

Concordia believes that equines should be turned out freely in the company of other equines where possible and appropriate so that they can engage in unrestricted social play, mutual grooming and to benefit from the security a social group provides.

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