Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Animal Science

First Advisor

Perry, Erin


While equine palatability research has been well documented, the majority of research has been conducted in mature, non-lactating horses (Betz & Lanter, 1980; Van den berg et al., 2016; Goodwin et al., 2005; Francis et al., 2020). While palatability research primarily aims to detect flavor preferences to mask medications, utilize in treats, etc., other aspects focus on acceptance and behavior (Senturklu & Landblom, 2015; Goodwin et al., 2005; Van den berg et al., 2016; Franics et al., 2020). Although a substantial amount of data is conducted on canine olfaction, data pertaining to equine olfaction is quite limited (Francis et al., 2020; Jenkins et al., 2018; Kokocinska-Kusiak et al., 2021). The objective of this study was to investigate the flavor and aroma preferences of lactating equine mare and foal pairings. Stock-type mare and foal pairings (n = 4), aged 6.5 ± 3.9 weeks, were utilized in paired preference testing using apple, anise, peppermint and control palatants. Testing was split into flavor testing (0730-0830 hours) and aroma testing (1630-1730 hours). Mares and foals were loaded into test stalls and allotted 30 minutes to freely interact with treatments. Data was recorded via live stream cameras and evaluated for categorical and numerical data. Variables of interest included: first treatments investigated, consumed, and finished; maternal effects of treatment locations, time spent consuming each treatment, time spent rest recumbent, percentage of treatments consumed, and total voluntary consumption. Data were analyzed using SAS for academics with significance set at 5%. Flavor analysis revealed no preference of first flavor investigated (P = 0.4918), consumed (P = 0.4018) or finished (P = 0.5424) of mares. Foals were also found to exhibit no flavor preferences for first investigated (P = 0.5996), consumed (P = 0.4278), or finished (P = 0.9914). A location effect was exhibited by mares and found that flavor treatments in location 2 and 3 were more likely to be first consumed (P < 0.0001). Foals were more likely to first finish those flavor treatments in location 1 (P = 0.0003). No period effect was exhibited for flavors first investigated (P =0.7552), consumed (P = 0.5404) or finished (P = 0.7903). A period effect was exhibited for first finished flavor treatments of mares (P = 0.0170). Further analysis found that mares were more likely to finish the peppermint flavor for periods 1 and 2 compared to periods 3 and 4 (P = 0.0518). The mean time spent foals spent consuming flavors was not significant (P = 0.2120) and no period effects were exhibited (P = 0.1713). However, time spent resting decreased significantly from period 1 to 4 (P = 0.0476). Likewise, there was no flavor treatment effect on the mean percentage of treatments consumed (P = 0.8431), nor was there a period effect (P = 0.4125). Aroma analysis also found no preference for first investigated (P = 0.8472), consumed (P = 0.8472), or finished (P = 0.8166) of mares. Similarly, foals exhibited no aroma preferences for first investigated (P = 0.5206), consumed (P = 0.5206), or finished (P = 0.1650). A period effect was exhibited for mares for first aroma treatments investigated (P = 0.0101) and consumed (P = 0.01) across periods. However, further analysis found that there was no difference for treatments across periods. A location effect was also exhibited by mares, with location 1 being selected at a lower frequency than locations 2, 3 and 4 (P = 0.0003). Interestingly, locations 3 and 4 had a higher frequency of being the first aromatic treatments finished (P = 0.0008). Foals were found to first consume (P = 0.0315), and finish (P = 0.0013), those treatments located in location 1. Comparative analysis of relationships between mare and foal selective actions found that pairings made similar flavor selections for first investigated treatments (P = 0.1865) but selected different aromatic treatments (P = 0.0415). Likewise, pairings selected similar flavor treatments (P = 0.1062) but selected different aromatic treatments for first consumption (P = 0.0415). Findings suggest that while flavor and aromatic preferences are not strong for mare and foal pairings. However, comparative analysis of selections between the two groups found selections to be similar for flavor testing and different for aromatic testing.



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