Thermoregulation is an energy-expensive process, which can be mitigated by blanketing horses in cold climates, potentially preventing weight loss or leading to decreased feed intake. The objective of this study was to evaluate feed intake, body weight (BW), and body condition scores (BCSs) in blanketed and nonblanketed horses. In October 2019, 16 mature adult horses were blocked by breed and BCS and randomly assigned to a blanketed (n = 8) or nonblanketed (n = 8) treatment; blankets were placed. Data were collected in December 2019 and January 2020 in River Falls, Wisconsin. During the study, horses were housed in dry lots and fed grass-legume mixed round bales. At the start of each trial period, BW and BCSs of horses were taken, hay cores were taken for nutritive analysis, and hay bales were weighed. Hay waste was collected daily, and when hay could no longer be consumed ad libitum, the remaining hay was removed from both pens (orts) and new bales were fed. Hay waste and orts were dried and daily dry matter intake was estimated as the difference between hay provided minus hay waste and orts during the trial period divided by the total BW of the pen. The average bale weight, forage nutritive value, BW, and BCS did not differ across treatment groups (P ≥.05). However, the daily dry matter intake differed (P ≤.05) at 2.31% BW for blanketed horses and 2.51% BW for nonblanketed horses. These results suggest blanketed horses conserve energy leading to decreased feed intake.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial disclosure: This work was supported by the Undergraduate Research, Creative, and Scholarly Activity organization at the University of Wisconsin –River Falls, United States.
- Body weight
- Dry matter intake
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article