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Szivacz, Barbara (2012): Untersuchung zur Offenlaufstallhaltung von Pferden unter dem Aspekt des Zusammenhangs zwischen Haltung und Gesundheit. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine



Investigations of open barn systems of horses regarding the correlation of health and housing system The aim of this thesis was investigating if improved husbandry has a positive influence on the recovery of special health issues. Therefor 600 horse owners were asked to answer an on-line questionnaire about their horses’ behavior and health status. All horses were kept in housing systems, which had been rated positively by the Laufstall-Arbeits-Gemeinschaft (LAG), and had permanent access to a paddock or a pastern. The prevalence of coughing, gastrointestinal diseases, orthopedic disorders, injuries and unwanted behaviour patterns were compiled. Further it was asked, how the health or the behaviour had changed since the horse had been stabled in the new farm. The improvement of respiratory diseases was recognized by 52.9 % of the horse owners, gastrointestinal diseases by 55.7 % and orthopedic disorders by 45.3 %. 53.9% of the horses showed an improvement of unwanted behaviour patterns. The tendency to injuries improved only by 28.4 %. Horses, which had been individually stabled before, needed significantly more often veterinary care for gastrointestinal diseases (p = 0.002), orthopedic disorders (p = 0.004) or injuries (p = 0.0001) than horses which have not been stabled in another farm than the current. Further these horses coughed less (p = 0.002) and showed less unwanted behaviour patterns (p = 0.003). These horses more often never had a demand for veterinary care (p = 0.0001). Horses, which had been individually stabled before, showed significantly more often respiratory diseases (p = 0.044) and unwanted behavior patterns (p = 0.023) than horses, which had been stabled in other group housing systems before. In particular the differences regarding orthopedic disorders (p = 0.002) became clearly. Not changing the farm has a significantly positive impact on the categories “injuries” (p = 0.002) and “never having needed a veterinary” (p = 0.002) compared to horses which came from another group housing system. Also the Summary 119 prevalence for disorders of the digestive system was the lowest for horses, which have not been stabled in another farm than the current before (p = 0.031). Considering the rates of the improvements discriminating between the corresponding prior housing systems, it becomes clear, that horses, which were stabled in boxes, show increased improvement rates compared to horses, which were stables in open barn systems. In particular the differences regarding both, coughing (p = 0.001) and orthopedic disorders (p = 0.0001), are significant. The grading of the stables did not show a significant correlation to the frequency of the health issues nor unwanted behaviour patterns, probably due to the low variation of the grades among the stables. Summing up according to the owners’ opinions changing from boxes to an open barn system resulted in a significant improvement of the heath of the respiratory and the musculoskeletal system as well as the behavior of the horses. Frequent changes of the farm should be avoided due to both, the effects on the digestive system and the occurrence of injuries.