Seasonal variations in physiological and behavioural parameters in a bachelor group of stallion ponies (Equilus caballus)

R. S. Chiam, Mina Clare Gwynne Davies-Morel, Sebastian Daryl McBride, A. McKay, E. Ely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Animals living in temperate climates are continually adapting to seasonal demands of reproduction and survival. Whilst it is well documented that ruminants show seasonal changes in both reproductive and non-reproductive physiological and behavioural characteristics (reduction of metabolic rate and appetite during the winter with respective increases during spring and summer), this information has not been fully established in the non-ruminating ungulate species of Equidae. This may be important information from a practical management perspective since groups of equids are increasingly being kept in natural conditions for the purposes of conservation grazing. The aim of this study, therefore, was to document the behavioural and physiological adaptive changes made by ponies during a 12-month period and to relate these to changes in forage availability and environment. Five mature pony stallions were kept in west Wales (4°5′W, 52°25′N) and monitored for 12 months. A range of physiological (testis size, body weight, condition score (CS), hoof growth, moult (M), pelage fibre length, depth and density) and behavioural measurements (foraging and non-foraging activities) were recorded along with monthly forage analysis (crude protein (CP), water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC)), dry matter (DM)) and environmental conditions (day length and minimum ambient temperature). All physiological measurements were significantly ( P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-590
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Science
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


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