A landmark survey by a Charles Sturt University (CSU) Bachelor of Science (Honours) student aims to shed light on the eating habits of Australian horses.
CSU student Ms Claudia Macleay, who is doing her second degree after her 2015 graduation from the University's equine science program, is conducting the survey into the feeding practices and supplement use among Australian horse owners.
Ms Macleay said, "Although there's a large amount of research on what horses should be fed, there is very little research on what Australians actually feed their horses.
"The aim of my survey is to collect data that will help us understand what feeds and supplements horse owners and managers are using across Australia and how that relates to the horse's current use, housing, pasture and workload or training," said Ms Macleay.
"This is important information because if Australians are over or under-feeding their horses this can lead to a range of health issues such as poor dental health, gastric ulcers, obesity, metabolic problems and colic.
"Sometimes our human perceptions get in the way of what we should be feeding our animals," she said.
"We want our production animals like cows, sheep and pigs to be fatter and bigger but that philosophy for horses doesn't necessarily work," she said.
Ms Macleay hopes her research findings will be used to examine the current equine nutrition trends in Australia.
"This national survey will give us much needed data around whether owners are feeding their horses enough fibre and roughage, what supplements they are using, or if their needs to be more education around what horses can eat."
The online survey, Feeding Practices and Supplement Use Among Australian Horse Owners is available here.