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Crib Biting – A Study Of This Vice

I have recently come across an interesting study that was reported on within the Horse & Hound and I thought it would make interesting reading for you today.
A study was carried out by the Royal agricultural college (RAC). They analysed a small population of crib-biting horses during a period of inactivity during the day time.
They found that on average, the horses were performing 11 crib-bites every five minutes.

when these horses were given a concentrated palatable fee, this rate went up to 24 counts and carried on for around 40 minutes.
Curiously when these same horses were fed a forage meal instead, the cribbing levels were reduced to only five counts. This reduction persisted for 50 minutes before going back to the original 11 count.

Their study concluded that highly palatable feeds, monitored by texture, volume and taste have been liked to the release of pleasure hormones or (endorphins).
So how does this translate into undesirable equine stereotype behaviours such as crib-biting?

The RAC research suggests that crib-biting arises partly due to stress-induced increases in endorphin sensitivity. Following the initial development of crib-biting behaviour, these endorphin releases can lead to extended bouts of this undesirable habit.

So, what can we as horse owners take from this. I think it is interesting that the concentrated feed raises the amount of crib-biting. If your horse is suffering with this vice, why not have a look at his diet, change it and monitor him to see if there are any behavioural changes.

The Stable Doctor
Advice is given without legal responsibility

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