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Favorite Flavor

August 7, 2008

I read this on one of my chat boards and thought it was interesting ----

Equine Flavor Preferences by:
Lydia Gray, DVM, MAJuly 15 2008, Article # 12280

Does your horse have a favorite flavor? Eight research horses in England did.

Deborah Goodwin, BSc, PhD, research director of Applied Animal Behaviour Programmes at the University of Southampton, set out to discover what flavors horses actually like, compared to what horse owners and product manufacturers think horses like. In Goodwin's first trial, she offered 15 flavors to eight stabled horses in a small amount of grain and measured how much they ate, how long it took them to eat it, and if any horses partially or completely rejected it. Some horses refused to eat three flavors--echinacea, nutmeg, and coriander. This left 12 flavors that were universally accepted: apple, banana, carrot, cherry, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, oregano, peppermint, and rosemary turmeric. In the next phase of the study, the eight flavors the horses ate the fastest of the 12 offered were presented again, in all combinations of pairings, to rank the horses' overall order of preference. The horses' top-ranked flavors were (in order): Fenugreek, Banana, Cherry, Rosemary, Cumin, Carrot, Peppermint, Oregano. Finally, in Trial 3 she offered the horses three versions of a mineral pellet: banana-flavored, fenugreek-flavored, or unflavored. Horses ate the pellet much faster when it was flavored with either fenugreek or banana than when it had no added flavor. 

The take-home: if you want your horse to eat his medication or supplements, choose products that already contain the top eight flavors horses prefer, or add them yourself.

Goodwin D, Davidson H P B, Harris, P. Selection and acceptance of flavours in concentrate diets for stabled horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 95, Issue 3 - 4, Pages 223-232.

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