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Stereotypical behaviours and mating success in mares

H. Benhajalia, M. Ezzaouia, C. Lunel, F. Charfi, M. Hausberger

STEREOTYPICAL behaviours are repetitive and apparently functionless behaviours exhibited by captive animals, which are often associated with suboptimal environments. In horses, stereotypical behaviours include repeated weaving, box walking and head nodding. The aim of this study was to assess whether stereotypical behaviours in mares were associated with reproductive success.

In total, 114 Arab mares were observed for the presence of stereotypical behaviours. All mares were mated or inseminated during the following breeding season and reproductive success was monitored.

Thirty-one of 114 mares (27 per cent) showed stereotypical behaviour; mostly weaving (22 per cent) but also box walking (9 per cent), door kicking (2 per cent) and head shaking and lip snapping (1 per cent each). Mares that exhibited stereotypical behaviours had lower mating success than those that did not. In mares that showed stereotypical behaviour, overall conception rate was lower (55 per cent versus 84 per cent) and both the first and second service conception rates were significantly lower.

The authors conclude that, while mares that exhibited stereotypical behaviours did show oestrus, they were less likely to conceive …

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