Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Behaviour and welfare of horses working in feedlots

Charles Sturt University (CSU) PhD research is focused on the understanding the behaviour of working horses, particularly those used in the feedlot industry.

PhD student Ms Karly Liffen, from CSU’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, hopes her research will improve the welfare of working horses.

“Horses are used fairly widely in the Australian cattle industry especially in situations where the cattle need to be kept calm or rough terrain does not allow access to motor vehicles,” Ms Liffen said.

“Most equine research has focused on the racing industry or horses used for competition but my study will conduct a welfare assessment of working horses.”

The research will determine a way to assess horses in the Australian feedlot industry using behaviour and health measures.

Ms Karly LiffenIt also aims to establish a baseline welfare indicator using a range of methods including emerging technology that can be used by feedlot personnel to improve how horses are used and managed.

Ms Liffen hopes the findings of her research can be applied across the whole equine industry.

“I hope my research will improve the lives of working equines and give them a quality of life, not just meeting their physical needs but also their mental and emotional ones,” she said.

Ms Liffen began her PhD this year after completing a Bachelor of Equine Science and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in equine reproduction.

“Equine behaviour has always interested me the most as it is something that we currently do not know much about. I wanted to combine this with welfare to focus on the horse as an individual and make a difference in the world,” said Ms Liffen.

Ms Liffen is supervised by Associate Professor Hayley Randle, Dr Michael Campbell from CSU and Professor Natalie Waran the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Health Science at the Eastern Institute of Technology in New Zealand.

photo by Malinda Jones from Pinegrove Feedlot