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Author (up) McGee, S.; Smith, H.V. url  doi
  Title Accompanying pre-weaned Thoroughbred (Equus caballus) foals while separated from the mare during covering reduces behavioural signs of distress exhibited Type Journal Article
  Year 2004 Publication Applied Animal Behaviour Science Abbreviated Journal Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.  
  Volume 88 Issue 1-2 Pages 137-147  
  Keywords Distress; Foals; Maternal separation; Stereotypies; Welfare  
  Abstract Some Thoroughbred stallion farms separate the mare from the foal during breeding, leaving the foal alone in its stall. Such separation often leads to distress in the foal, as evidenced by behavioural indicators such as vocalisations, pacing or moving about, pawing and striking the body against solid objects. This study examined whether the foal's distress is reduced if a handler accompanies it during the period of separation. A total of 57 foals on an Irish stud farm were observed: 27 foals were accompanied during separation and 30 were left in isolation but discretely observed from outside the stall. On average, unaccompanied foals vocalised at significantly (P<0.001) shorter intervals (14.8 s versus 26.8 s), and spent significantly (P<0.05) more time pawing (29.6 s versus 6.8 s) than accompanied ones. In addition, 17 of the unaccompanied foals hurled themselves against a solid object on at least one occasion, while not one of the accompanied foals did this (P<0.001). Age, gender and number of times the foal had been previously separated from the mare while she was being teased or covered were not significantly related to any of the behavioural indicators of distress. Overall, the data provide clear evidence that accompanying a foal reduces the distress that it exhibits when separated from the mare. This procedure has obvious welfare benefits in the short term, in that the foal both experiences less distress and has a reduced likelihood of injuring itself, and it may have longer-term benefits by reducing the chance of the animal later developing a locomotory stereotypical behaviour.  
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  Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 3639  
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