Karlette Fernandes

Doctor of Philosophy, (Veterinary Science)
Study Completed: 2018
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Aspects of dietary management and dynamics of the faecal microbiota of horses and ponies (equus caballus) in New Zealand

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Maintaining a balance of the gut microbial ecosystem is important for efficient digestion, and reflects on the health and performance of the animal. The year-round grazing on pasture is a common feeding practice in New Zealand, but the high-energy content of pasture has been associated with problems such as obesity, laminitis and colic in horses and ponies. Karlette conducted a series of studies to investigate the effects of dietary changes on the gut microbiota of horses and the factors that influenced perturbations in the microbial communities. The results highlighted the complexity of the gut microbiota, and demonstrated that the relationship of dietary intake and retention time of digesta in the gut influenced the population dynamics of the gut microbial community. These findings will help improve the management of horses and ponies by development of appropriate feeding strategies to prevent the occurrence of diseases and manage the health of 'at-risk' animals.

Associate Professor David Thomas
Dr Emma Bermingham
Dr Sandra Kittelmann
Professor Chris Rogers
Associate Professor Erica Gee
Dr Charlotte Bolwell


Fernandes KA, Rogers CW, Gee EK, Bolwell CF and Thomas DG (2014). A cross-sectional survey of rider and horse demographics, and the feeding, health and management of Pony Club horses in New Zealand. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 74, Napier, p.11-16.

Fernandes KA, Kittelmann S, Rogers CW, Gee EK, Bolwell CF, Bermingham EN, et al. Faecal microbiota of forage-fed horses in new zealand and the population dynamics of microbial communities following dietary change. PLoS ONE 2014;9:e112846.