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Time-Budgets of Camargue Horses I. Developmental Changes in the Time-Budgets of Foals

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The development of the (24 hour) time-budgets of foals was studied as part of a broader investigation of the time-budgets of Camargue horses living in semi-liberty. Nine categories of activity were studied; resting postures (lateral and sternal recumbency, and standing resting), foraging, and postures related to movement and orientation (standing alert, walking, trotting, galloping and rolling). The process of development of the time-budgets as a whole was described by using a multivariate technique, correspondance analysis : variations in time-budgets were largely determined by age, but the environment intervened in mid-summer, when the process of development was slowed down. It was suggested, on the basis of other evidence, that the attacks by horseflies were probably responsible for the arrest in development. It was also found that for some individuals there was also a period shortly before weaning when development was slowed down. Foals developed time budgets closely similar to those of sub-adults (horses 1-2 years older than the foals) very soon (2-4 weeks) after weaning. The changes in the time-budgets involved considerable decreases in the time spent in the lying postures (e.g. lying flat occupied 15% after birth and 2% after weaning), and in movement and orientation (standing alert decreased from 31% to 5% in the same period) while foraging increased from 13% to 62%. It is suggested that the milk supply from their mothers allows the foals to invest time in sleep, and in exploration of their physical and social environment. After weaning, most of this time is spent foraging.

Affiliations: 1: CRIG, Université de Montpellier, and Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, le Sambuc, Arles, France


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