Hildebrandt, F., Büttner, K., Salau, J. et al. 2021. Area and resource utilization of group-housed horses in an active stable. Animals 11(10), 2777.
The aim of this study was to analyze the utilization of different stable areas of a total of 52 group-housed horses as well as their preferred stable parts and the use of resources. The study was situated in a “HIT Active Stable®” in Northern Germany for a period of 227 observation days. After dividing the whole farm area in a grid of 3 × 3 m, the dataset was examined with and without the pasture area. Furthermore, linear mixed models were applied. On average, horses used 53.2 ± 19 different squares per hour. The observation day (p < 0.001) and the covariate age (p < 0.001) had significant effects on the different squares visited per hour. No significant effects were found for sex (p = 0.30) and breed (p = 0.65) as only geldings and no stallions were part of the group and the distribution of the breeds was unfavorable. The random effect animal showed that the horse-individual estimates from −19.2 to 17.6 different squares visited per hour were quite large. Furthermore, it could be shown that the horses used resources such as feed stalls with a frequency of up to 0.14% more than other paddock areas without resources. Open lying halls with tarp skin were also preferred over the metal hall. The shelters were only partly popular. Use could be visualized with the help of heat maps. This study gives a good overview of the use of individual areas and resources and possible improvements.