If like many owners you have considered using a grazing muzzle, you may have been left wondering whether or not they really work. Two recent studies have set out to answer this very question!
The effect of wearing a grazing muzzle vs. not wearing a grazing muzzle on intakes of spring, summer and autumn pastures by ponies
• Grass intake was measured across 3 hours on 4 occasions in 4 ponies with and without a Shires grazing muzzle in spring, summer & autumn
• Grass intake was calculated using changes in body weight (BW), accounting for droppings & urine (which were collected in ‘nappies’) and natural weight loss due to the evaporation of water in the body
• On average grazing muzzles reduced intake by 78% in spring, 77% in summer and 83% in autumn
• Without a muzzle, ponies consumed on average 0.51% BW in spring, 0.57% BW in summer & 0.8% BW in autumn
What does this mean?
• Across the seasons, muzzles reduced grass intake by approximately 80% on average and may therefore be an effective method of reducing grass intake throughout the year.
Efficacy of wearing grazing muzzles for 10 hours per day on controlling bodyweight in pastured ponies
• 5 non-obese ponies were turned out for 23 hours per day either without a grazing muzzle (FREEGRAZE treatment) or with a grazing muzzle fitted for 10 out of the 23 hours per day (MUZZLE treatment) during a 6 week crossover study (ponies were divided into 2 groups and were exposed to both treatments)
• Ponies were weighed on alternate days at 8am and 6pm
• 4 out 5 ponies gained significantly less weight during the MUZZLE treatment
• 2 ponies exhibited ‘pasture damaging’ behaviour whilst wearing a muzzle, digging holes of approximately 35cm in diameter with their forefeet
• 1 pony became resentful of wearing the muzzle during week three and lost weight
• 1 pony had to be removed from the study after gaining weight rapidly during the MUZZLE treatment (this pony did not therefore complete the FREEGRAZE treatment)
What does this mean?
• Using a grazing muzzle for 10 hours per day may be an effective weight management strategy for some but not all ponies living out at pasture
• Individual horses/ ponies should always be monitored closely for changes in body weight and behaviour
For more advice on how to use grazing muzzles safely call the SPILLERS Care-Line on 01908 226626
Please call the Careline on 01908 226626 as we need more information to be able to help.