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Quality of Life

Our commitment to horses

Project: "Quality of Life"

Our commitment to horses

Around 700 horses live on the farms of Gut Aiderbichl. They have been abandoned, taken out of breeding stables, taken to the horse slaughterer, given away because they no longer provided the sporting performance or because the veterinary costs were no longer affordable. Without benefit, without performance, not valuable enough.

Many of the 700 animals are already of advanced age. They should enjoy their twilight years at Gut Aiderbichl. But what makes life worth living for a horse in old age? Since there are currently few answers to this question, the topic is of particular concern to the animal welfare community. Based on this intention, the project "Quality of Life" was developed in cooperation with the Sandgrueb Foundation, the Vet. Med. University Vienna and the Vetsuisse Faculty in Zurich.

Our project at a glance

"Quality of Life"

Baseline:

  • Over 700 horses live at Gut Aiderbichl. Soon over 50% of them will be seniors (over 20 years old).
  • Little is known about the needs of old and chronically ill horses.
  • Many pastures have been sown specifically for cattle feed. Little is currently known about the ideal hay composition.

Target:

  • Scientifically based impulses for the improvement of the living conditions of horses, especially in old age and illness.
  • Conversion to environmentally friendly and natural hay management.
  • Sharing the knowledge generated.

Our work:

  • Support of studies on the topics: Equine health status and welfare, and Natural horse husbandry and sustainable grassland ecosystems (knowledge enhancement).

Outlook:

  • Application of the generated knowledge on our own farms (knowledge deployment).
  • Passing on knowledge through public relations work and our Gut Aiderbichl Academy (knowledge transfer).

Our project - the whole story

Needs of horses change with age or disease

Gut Aiderbichl has been committed to animal welfare for over 20 years. At Gut Aiderbichl, animals find a forever home until the natural end of their lives. Around 700 horses enjoy their twilight years here. Currently, over 150 horses at Gut Aiderbichl have reached the advanced age of 25. In a few years, more than 50 percent of the horses at Gut Aiderbichl will already be seniors. Like the animal welfare community itself, many owners are also confronted with the aging of their horse. Similar to aging humans, this often fundamentally changes the needs and demands of the animal.

However, the lack of a data basis is problematic here. What information can a horse owner rely on if he wants his animal to lack nothing as it ages?

Based on this intention, the project "Quality of Life" was developed in cooperation with the Sandgrueb Foundation, the Vet. Med. University Vienna and the Vetsuisse Faculty in Zurich. 

Our collaborations

Since 2018, Gut Aiderbichl has also been cooperating with the Animal Care School at the VetMeduni Vienna. One of the reasons of this cooperation, which began at that time, was the newly developed curriculum of the animal care school, namely to teach animal welfare and the human-animal relationship as a content focus. The aim of the cooperation is to raise awareness for animal welfare in our society.

Since 2020, VetMeduni Vienna has also been working in cooperation with Gut Aiderbichl on the major joint project "Quality of Life".

Since 2020, Gut Aiderbichl has also been cooperating with the Sandgrueb Foundation in Egg, near Zurich. In the same year, an equine health center with a parasitology laboratory will be built. This center makes it possible to carry out special treatments for equines with hoof problems - an incredible improvement for the welfare of the horses.

Our main areas of study

Gut Aiderbichl, together with its partners, is intensively concerned with the quality of life of horses. The project is divided into two main axes with several focal points:

 

  1. Health condition and well-being of the horse
  • PhD: Quality of life in old and chronically ill horses.
  • PhD: Social contacts and access to resources as indicators of equine well-being and quality of life.
  • PhD: Equine Quality of Life: Ethics of end-of-life decisions in aged and/or chronically ill horses
  • Doctoral thesis (Dr.Med.Vet.): Treatment of equine skin tumors with betulinic acid using transcutaneous application methods.
  • PhD: Age-related changes in gut microbiota - through feeding management. Promoting healthy aging.
  • Equine parasite monitoring.

 

  1. Near-natural horse husbandry and sustainable grassland ecosystems.

Exploration of biodiversity in pastures and meadows as a basis for:

  • the link between animal welfare and nature conservation
  • Sustainable grazing/hay quality monitoring
  • Optimization of hay quality from own production
  • Detection of dangers (toxic endophytes)
  • Ecological upgrading measures of pastures
  • Production of wild seed from suitable own donor areas
  • PhD: Soil-protecting fastening of running surfaces on paddock trails for horses

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