Comparing the use of "straw mattresses" to "rubber mats with straw pellets" in paddock boxes

Results from Nürtingen University, Germany, faculty of equine management

Research

original situation:

conventional long straw

original situation: horses´ loosebox with long straw

new flooring system:

rubber mat BELMONDO® Trend + straw pellets

new flooring system rubber mat BELMONDO Trend with straw pellets

Question:

  • To what extent do horses change their lying behaviour because of the flooring system?
  • How much deformation and littering height do both systems have?

Results

Total lying time at night after installing BELMONDO® Trend

total lying time at night after installing BELMONDO Trend comfort mat for horses

Lying positions during the test

lying positions during the test - BELMONDO Trend rubber mat for horses in comparison to straw mattress

At the end of the test the horses lie slightly longer on rubber mats with straw pellets than on straw and display confident lying behaviour

Deformation and littering height

deformation and littering height of horses´ loosebox - BELMONDO Trend rubber mat in comparison to straw mattress

Rubber mat + straw pellets: consistently high deformation

Conclusion:

  • Horses react sensitively to new floors and substrates
  • After only a brief period they resume their usual lying positions
    → confident lying behaviour
  • Littering height does not determine the deformability of the flooring system
  • In nature, horses select their lying places more for their dryness and less for their softness. Heat insulation and slip resistance are also important factors.

Source: Project report Prof. Dr. B. Benz et al. (2014): Comparing the use of “straw mattresses” to “rubber mats with straw pellets” on the experimental farm Jungborn

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