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Forage intake in two year old trotters in training

Forage intake in two year old trotters in training

A Swedish study has investigated the forage intake in 13 two year old trotters in heavy training. The forage was a second cut grass haylage with 63% dry matter (DM), 10.8 MJ metabolizable energy/kg DM and 14% crude protein. The diet was supplemented with 150 g mineral feedstuff, 250 g pelleted lucerne and 100 g molassed beet pulp.

The horses were trained 2-3 times per week, half of the exercises were done in a slightly hilly terrain (7 km) and the other half was double heats (1100-1600 m, ~10 m/s) on a racetrack. The horses spent 8 hours per day together in a paddock with free access to forage and water. They were already adapted to free access to forage before the measurements began.

Forage intake was measured in two periods during three days in a row with 50 days in between. During the three days of measurements the horses were kept in individual boxes and exercised one hour per day. Forage was provided in large cribs on the floor and was refilled three times per day. Feed residues were collected every morning.

Table 1 shows the DM intake and the horses’ body condition score that was maintained around 5 throughout the study, which indicates that the horses’ energy intake met the requirement. The average DM intake was around 2.3% of body weight (BW) in both periods. Day 1 the horses had higher DM intake of 2.4% of BW which could be due to higher energy requirement after spending 8 hours in the paddock the day before.

There was an individual difference in DM intake between horses, on average the DM intake varied between 2.2% and 2.5% of BW. The lowest and highest DM intake registered was 1.8% and 2.9% of BW, respectively.

In conclusion, this study shows that two year old horses in training can have forage DM intakes of 2.3% of BW and maintain body condition. There can be great variations in DM intake between individuals and also variation between days.

Sara Muhonen, AgrD

Reference:
Ringmark S & Jansson A 2012 Variations in voluntary feed intake in 2 year old Standardbred geldings in training fed a forage only diet ad libitum. In: Forage and grazing in horse nutrition (Eds. Saastamoinen MT, Fradinho MJ, Santos AS, Miraglia N), EAAP publication No. 132, 177-179.

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