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Title: Age-related changes in taste and gustatory response and feeding behaviour in the stabled horse
Author: Bottom, Sarah H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2683 0512
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2008
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There is a paucity of research relating to the anatomy and physiology of gustation and olfaction in the horse. Moreover, whilst an age-related decline in gustation and olfaction has been recorded in humans, no such study has been conducted in the horse. The horse is reliant on gustation and olfaction to make appropriate decisions relating to both short and long term diet selection and thus, any compromise in function, has implications for food intake and potentially welfare. The principal aim of this study was to establish if, and to what extent, taste andgustatory responses are affected by age in the horse. Horses were allocated to the age groups Young (2-5 years), Middle (8-14 years) and Old (16 plus years) for the study of taste (n=18) and to Young (4-6 years), Middle (10-14 years) and Old (16 plus years) for the study of gustation (n=18). Individual taste responses and gustatory responses (taste in the absence of additional olfactory cues) were identified using two-choice preference testing and monadic testing. Statistical analysis was conducted using Minitab 14.0 and behaviour data was analysed using The Observer 5.0 (Noldus, Netherlands). No effect of age on taste response or gustatory response was recorded. Differences in intake and behaviour between the control and test feed were identified in both studies, although inclusion rate had no significant effect on intake or behaviour. Individual side preference was recorded. This is due to the lack of positive or negative consequence related to ingestion of test feed and the lack of horses in the later stages of senescence being allocated to the study. Differences in behaviour between age groups recorded during the taste trial were analysed using lag sequential analysis. Consistency in behaviour was found to increase with age, with more fragmented behaviour recorded in Young subjects. Side preference was recorded in individuals in both studies and is suggested to be the result of limitations in study design; namely the lack of the test chemicals to evoke a behavioural response. The methods employed in this study failed to identify a significant effect of age on taste or gustatory response. Given the increasing longevity of the domestic horse, further study with more appropriate techniques is warranted.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available