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Effects of density and water availability on the behavior, physiology, and weight loss of slaughter horses during transport
Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (2007)
  • C Iacono
  • T Friend
  • H Keen
  • T Martin
  • Peter D Krawczel, University of Tennessee - Knoxville
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of density and provision of water on aggressive behavior, stress, and weight loss in slaughter horses during transport. A 16.2-m, single deck semi-trailer was divided into three compartments to create high, medium, and low density (397 ± 6.5 kg/m2, 348 ± 5.2 kg/m2, and 221 ± 7.6 kg/m2 per compartment) groups of unrestrained horses. Six shipments containing 23 to 30 horses per shipment were transported in June and July of 2004 for 18 to 20 hours. While the truck was stopped for 1 hour after 8 hours of transport and then again just before unloading, horses in each of two compartments received water for 1 hour from six water bowls (three bowls mounted on each side of a compartment). The third, non-watered compartment served as a control. Aggressive behavior of the horses was recorded using 12 video cameras installed in the trailer. All occurrences of aggressive behavior were counted from 15-minute segments of video during 2-hour intervals for each horse that was visible in each density group. Neither density nor water significantly affected (P > 0.21) aggressive behavior, cortisol, plasma chemistry profile, dehydration, or weight loss. Aggression did not differ (P = 0.49) between the first and second halves of the shipments, indicating that fatigue had not advanced to the stage where aggression was suppressed. Individual horses, rather than density were the major cause of aggressive behavior. However, two horses went down in the high density treatment, indicating that factors in high density could lead to increased morbidity or death.
  • Horse,
  • Transport,
  • Stress,
  • Dehydration,
  • Behavior
Publication Date
August, 2007
Citation Information
C Iacono, T Friend, H Keen, T Martin, et al.. "Effects of density and water availability on the behavior, physiology, and weight loss of slaughter horses during transport" Journal of Equine Veterinary Science Vol. 27 Iss. 8 (2007)
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