Research update: Grazing muzzles
Grazing muzzles can be used to reduce pasture intake and are alternatives to isolating horses in dry lots and stalls. There is limited information on the extent of intake restriction imposed by grazing muzzles. Therefore the objective of this study, conducted by researcher in England, was to quantify the effect of wearing a grazing muzzle on forage intake by ponies.
Four mature ponies were used for this study. Pasture intakes were measured on four, 3 hour occasions per pony when fitted with a muzzle or grazing without a muzzle. Pasture intake was determined by change in body weight after grazing.
Pasture intakes were significantly reduced when ponies were fitted with a grazing muzzle. Ponies averaged 1 pound of forage per 3 hours with grazing muzzles compared to 7 pounds of forage per 3 hours without a muzzle, representing a 83% reduction in pasture intake for ponies wearing grazing muzzles compared to those without. Pasture dry matter intake by ponies without grazing muzzles averaged 0.8% body weight during the 3 hours, which is equivalent to one half to two-thirds of the recommended daily energy requirement.
This evidence suggests that grazing muzzles are an effective means of restricting pasture intake by ponies.