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Näslund, Karin, 2016. Habitat preferences and shelter seeking behaviour of extensively kept Gotland Ponies. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Animal Nutrition and Management (until 231231)



The constant decline of permanent pastures in Sweden has a negative impact on biodiversity.
A multidisciplinary project is investigating if the endangered native Gotland pony could be
used to keep and restore the biodiversity of permanent pastures and forests, on a minimal
labour input, without compromising the ponies’ welfare. This thesis is a part of that project,
focusing on the ponies’ resource utilisation. In May 2014 twelve one year old Gotland pony
stallions were released into three enclosures of approximately 10 ha each, consisting of about
3 ha of lay and 7 ha of forest respectively. These enclosures were provided with man-made
shelters and water troughs, but there were no supplementary feed given inside the enclosures
during the year of the trial. To evaluate the ponies’ preferences for different vegetation types
the ponies were equipped with a GPS-collars. The shelters were equipped with movement
sensitive cameras to monitor how and when the ponies utilized them. The results showed that
the ponies favoured lay at almost all weather conditions, except when snow was covering the
ground. Forest usage increased during the winter as feed got less available on the lay, and
through out the year it was used more during the night than during the day. The shelters were
used about 48 minutes a day throughout the year. They were used mostly during daytime in
the non-vegetative season, but during the vegetative season there were no differences in
shelter use between night and day. Most previous studies of shelter seeking behaviour were
preformed in small paddocks with ad libitum feed for the horses, and resulted in a
significantly higher shelter usage than seen in the present study. Presumably, the ponies spent
a lot of time foraging, fulfilling their nutritional needs. Ad libitum fed horses have no need,
and sometimes no possibility, to preform the same behaviours. This could be one of the
reasons for the difference in shelter seeking behaviour in this study compared to the literature.

Main title:Habitat preferences and shelter seeking behaviour of extensively kept Gotland Ponies
Authors:Näslund, Karin
Supervisor:Skarin, Anna
Examiner:Åhman, Birgitta
Series:Examensarbete / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för husdjurens utfodring och vård
Volume/Sequential designation:547
Year of Publication:2016
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:VY001 Agricultural Science Programme - Animal Science 270 HEC
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Nutrition and Management (until 231231)
Keywords:year round grazing, extensive grazing, shelter, shelter seeking haviour, GPS-collar, horse
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Animal husbandry
Animal ecology
Nature conservation and land resources
Deposited On:15 Jan 2016 14:42
Metadata Last Modified:22 Jan 2016 13:16

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