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Territories and grassland exploitation by horses in France

Abstract : France is the first European country with regard to its agricultural area, and the second after Great Britain, for its permanent grasslands. With nearly a million of horses, this sector is the only French animal production which has been constantly developing for many years. Consequently, equestrian activities occupy a growing part of land in France with a presence in urban as well as agricultural areas or in highly environmental zones. Socio-economic and environmental researches have recently been developed in this country to assess the impact of horses at the farm and territories levels. Meanwhile, French knowledge in horse nutrition and diet has significantly improved since the 70’s. In this context, this paper aims to present a review of French knowledge about the exploitation of territories and grassland by horses. In France, the horse industry would use at least 0.5 million hectares and it’s possible to identify spatial distribution specificities for each of its four sectors (racing, sports and leisure, work, and meat). Their development is linked to the new territorial dynamics and equestrian activities both complement and compete with urbanization in suburban areas and agriculture in rural areas for land occupation. There is a wide diversity of horse production systems. The study of parasitism and health value of grass and conserved forages has been useful to adapt the standard conditions of this production. In rearing conditions, grazing systems are adapted to the kind of horses and the period of the year, as equines can be fed entirely in their box or they can adapt to a complete herbivorous diet. Moreover, thanks to their grazing behavior, equines present several environmental advantages for land maintenance, but their association with cattle is useful to maintain the forage value of meadows.
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Celine Vial, Geneviève Bigot, Bernard Morhain, William Martin-Rosset. Territories and grassland exploitation by horses in France. 6. European Workshop on Equine Nutrition, European Association for Animal Production (EAAP). Rome, ITA.; European Workshop on Equine Nutrition (EWEN). Lisbonne, PRT.; Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária (FMV). Lisbonne, PRT., Jun 2012, Lisbonne, Portugal. 512 p., ⟨10.3920/978-90-8686-755-4_64⟩. ⟨hal-02745351⟩



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