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The general idea of the project was to get an insight into practical experience of horse keeping in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Boarding farms have been evaluated twice with regard to animal welfare to determine weak elements. The presented results describe the situation at the moment and are not meant to be representative for horse keeping on boarding farms in Schleswig-Holstein.
The concept “evaluation of livery stables with regard to animal welfare” developed by BEYER (1998) was used as base of this study.
In total 42 parameters were assessed concerning the design of function areas, service and exercise management.
At the second turn an additional investigation of the stables climate data as airstream, temperature, relative humidity, intensity of light and concentration of ammonia was carried out. Individual horses were examined to determine health status and behavioural disturbances.
The mean herd size of those 46 farms was about 53 horses. Each individual keeping system that housed more than 20 % of the population has been evaluated. In total 104 individual housing systems (individual stables) with 1909 horses were examined.
• 96% of the stables are equipped with solitary loose-boxes
• only 9 stables had boxes with permanent access to a paddock
• deficits were found in design of function areas and exercise management
• None of the farms reached the total score of 152 points for individual stables or 164 points for group husbandry. A considerable range of results from 85 to 134 points was found at the first turn of investigation. At the second turn a similar range from 81 to 136 points was found. A mean score of 106 points was achieved, while stables with permanent access to a paddock and/or stables with group husbandry achieved better results than stables with solitary loose boxes without external access.
• The comparison of the results of the climate as part of the questionnaire to the measured climate data showed that recording of climate data is useful for evaluation of horse keeping systems.
• The results concerning health status and behavioural disorders can be understood as an approach to the actual present problems. Recording of diseases should be practised more strictly.
In general it is necessary to look at the entire system including service. The used questionnaire allowed a detailed evaluation of the quality of housing systems.
The investigation gave the possibility to determine deficits and to show positive aspects regarding horsekeeping. Deficits were found especially at the design of function areas and exercise management, while some of them are simple to correct. For example an excellent exercise management can compensate little lacks in design of function areas.
The shown results give an impression into practised horse keeping. The results of this study are not representative, because they showed that farms with significant deficiencies regarding animal welfare were obviously not involved in this study.