Leigh Niles, current MSc Equine Behaviour, Performance and Training student has just returned from presenting her undergraduate research at the prestigious British Society of Animal Science Conference, 2016 held at the University of Chester.

Leigh’s project, which was completed through the Dodson & Horrell Sparsholt Research Bursary in 2015, sought to establish ingestive behaviour of horses using three novel forages; pea haulm, sainfoin and whole crop oat. Forage intake is associated with physiological factors such as dental health, saliva production and its resultant impact on stomach lining as well as moderating undesired behaviours in horses. The aim of the project was to assess equine preferences and bite/chew rates of these individual forages and blends thereof.

Leigh found that there were significant differences in preference for these forages and in consumption time suggesting that inclusion of some of these mixes could increase or decrease feeding rate dependent on the needs of the individual horse. These findings were well received at the conference, prompting some interesting questions from the audience of fellow scientists.

With research-active industry experts on the teaching team, Sparsholt students benefit from strong national links. These experts are often accepted to present their research at conferences and events, as well as encouraging industry-relevant student research such as Leigh’s research presented at the British Society of animal Science Conference.

MSc and BSc students are assured of a great learning experience with the College’s higher education (HE) undergraduates officially the most satisfied students of all the UK’s land-based colleges according to the National Student Survey 2015.

Since presenting her findings Leigh is busy preparing for her upcoming MSc exams but is certainly well on her way to becoming tomorrow’s expert.

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