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Equine ingestion of haylage harvested at different plant maturity stages

By C. E. Muller

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The influence of plant maturity at harvest of haylage on equine ingestion times and ingestive behaviour was studied. Haylage was harvested at three different occasions: June, July and August, from the primary growth of the same grass-dominated sward. Twelve adult horses of European warmblood type were divided into three groups and used in a change-over experiment with three periods, so that all horses had been fed each of the three haylages at the end of the experiment. Measurements of eating time (min/kg dry matter (DM)), chewing rate (chews/min), swallowing rate (swallowing/min) and the number of chews/swallowing were made for five consecutive days in each period for each horse. Haylages were analysed for chemical composition and nutritive value. Results showed that horses ingested haylage harvested in June (29 min/kg DM) faster (P<0.0001) than haylages harvested in July and August (37 and 36 min/kg DM, respectively). Pearson's correlation coefficients were calculated between eating time and ingestive data and between eating time/ingestive data and composition of haylages. The highest correlation coefficient (0.94***) was found between eating time and number of chews/kg DM. The highest correlation coefficient related to fibre composition of haylage and ingestive behaviour was 0.66 (***), and was found between eating time and content of neutral detergent fibre in the haylage. Similar correlation coefficients were present for eating time and other variables describing fibre content (content of acid detergent fibre and lignin) in the haylage. In conclusion, a late harvest date of haylage may prolong total eating times for adult horses, partly due to a longer eating time per kg dry matter for such haylage, but also due to the generally higher feeding level needed to cover the energy and nutrient requirements of the horse when late harvested forages are used in forage-only diets.

Date 2011
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 134
Issue 3/4
Pages 144-151
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.08.005
Language English
Author Address Kungsangen Research Centre, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75323 Uppsala, Sweden.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal nutrition
  3. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  4. Chemicals
  5. Chewing
  6. Composition
  7. Diets
  8. Eating habits
  9. Feeding
  10. Feeding behavior
  11. Feeding programs
  12. Feeds
  13. Fiber
  14. Fodder
  15. Food requirements
  16. Foraging
  17. Harvesting
  18. Horses
  19. Mammals
  20. Nutrition
  21. nutritional requirements
  22. nutrition programs
  23. peer-reviewed
  24. Plants
  1. peer-reviewed