The welfare implications of owner perceptions and knowledge of equine sleep

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Abstract

The occurrence and function of sleep in the domestic horses is poorly understood. Research in other mammalian species would suggest that its function is also to facilitate memory consolidation and vital body maintenance. The occurrence of sleep does appear to be vital to horses, where sleep deprivation has been linked to spontaneous collapse in some cases. The current study aims 1) to establish whether owners recognise the importance of sleep relative to welfare and performance of their horse, and 2) to determine whether social media can be used to raise awareness and knowledge of a specific topic in animal welfare (in this instance, the functional importance of equine nocturnal behaviour and equine sleep). An online mixed methods questionnaire created using Google Forms was piloted before being distributed via social media platforms with effect from 13th November 2019 (with 213 responses collected by the 27th November). All data are due to be subjected to descriptive analysis before being analysed via binary logistic regression to determine factors that predict whether a person is more or less likely to consider the importance of sleep for their horse(s). Open questions have been designed to explore husbandry factors that owners perceive to be important in influencing the occurrence of sleep, and also the behavioural signs that indicate whether sleep in their horse is taking place. For the second part of the study, results are due to be summarised and published on the social media group platforms used to distribute the questionnaire initially. To determine whether this feed-forward approach to lay-public education is impactful, comments from members of the public interacting with the social media platforms will be analysed via themed content analysis. The results of the study will form the basis of discussion within the talk/poster.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
EventUFAW Virtual Animal Welfare Conference -
Duration: 30 Jun 20201 Jul 2020

Conference

ConferenceUFAW Virtual Animal Welfare Conference
Period30/6/201/7/20

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