In vitro fermentation kinetics of a range of alternative forages, and their suitability as forage feeds for horses

C E Hale, C J Newbold

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Traditional forage-based diets of hay and grass are unable to provide domesticated equidae with the energy required for the athletic performance and draught work imposed by man. It is therefore deemed necessary that horses with a high energy demand are fed cereal-based concentrate foods that are
usually high in starch. A practice that may induce metabolic disorders such as laminitis (Bailey et al. 2004, King and Mansmann 2004). A forage that is of superior quality, and one which would enable the animal to meet the energy
demands of work, would be a preferable food to replace some, if not all, the concentrate portion of the diet. It has been identified that red clover is a palatable high energy component of animal pastures (Rutter et al. 1998) and
recently its popularity as an ensiled product has increased. It has been found that when fed to ruminant animals, ensiled red clover leads to an increase in both voluntary feed intake (VFI) and animal production, and it has been found to have a higher D-value, when compared to grass silage, (Freudenberger et al. 1994, Rutter et al. 1998). Recent studies have shown that when fed to ponies, red clover silage had a significantly higher apparent digestibility and VFI than either grass silage or hay (Hale and Moore-Colyer 2001). Indicating that red clover inclusion might increase the energy density of equine diets, thus removing the need to rely on starch based supplements such as cereals. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential benefits of several alternative forages as suitable feeds for horses. Degradation of ensiled products (red clover, white clover, perennial rye grass, lucerne, and clover/grass mixes), were estimated using in vitro gas production techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-63
Number of pages2
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • nutrition
  • horse
  • fermentation
  • forage
  • food
  • alternative
  • kinetics


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