A British researcher hopes to work toward developing general guidelines on the ideal weaning method in horses.
To aid the research, horse owners are being urged to complete an online survey.
Catherine Williams, a research masters student at Plymouth University, says she is researching the differing weaning methods currently used within the equine industry.
“Much research has been conducted in this area and, whilst many agree that the weaning process can be highly stressful, none can decide on best practice,” she explains.
She said the aim of her research programme was to begin to set out some general guidelines regarding the ideal weaning method whilst limiting stress.
“It is anticipated that the outcomes of this research will benefit both the foals at the time of weaning – considered one of the most stressful periods any animal goes through – but also later in life,” Williams said.
“The need to investigate the influence that humans (handlers, trainers) have on the young animal is being recognised and how these may impact on individuals for the rest of their lives.”
The initial part of the study is a short survey exploring the weaning methods used by breeders and the reasoning behind them.
This will provide Williams with a brief overview of the various weaning methods used by breeders. This will be followed by a behavioural study of various weaning methods.
The survey can be accessed here.