Variations in voluntary feed intake in 2 year old Standardbred geldings in training fed a forage only diet ad libitum
There are no studies on forage intake potential in young horses in heavy training. The aim of this study was to describe variations in forage intake in 13 two year old standardbred geldings in training adapted to an ad libitum forage-only diet. Individual voluntary feed intake was measured for 2 periods of 3 days with 50 days in between. Feed was provided 3 times per day and residues were collected every morning. The forage was a 2nd cut grass haylage (10.8 MJ ME/kg DM, CP 139 g/kg DM). Body condition (BC) was registered in both periods. There was no difference between periods in BC (mean 5.1±0.1) and daily DM intake (mean 2.3±0.02 kg/100 kg BW). DM intake was affected by individual and day (day 1: 2.4, day 2: 2.3, day 3: 2.3 kg/100 kg BW, SEM 0.03). Individual mean intakes ranged from 2.16 to 2.49 kg DM/100 kg BW and the lowest and highest intakes registered was 1.80 kg and 2.88 kg DM/100 kg BW, respectively. This study shows that: (1) two year old horses in training can have a mean daily intake corresponding to 2.3% of BW and maintain BC on a forage-only diet; (2) the variation between individuals in daily voluntary intake may be as high as 60%; and (3) daily variation within individuals may correspond to 18% of the average intake.
Keywordshorses forage intake exercise growing
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