Main content area

Nutritional value of timothy haylage in Icelandic horses

Ragnarsson, S., Lindberg, J.E.
Livestock science 2008 v.113 no.2-3 pp. 202-208
horses, horse breeds, nutritive value, hay, Phleum pratense, forage grasses, harvest date, digestibility, energy metabolism, crude fiber, crude protein, dry matter content, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, nitrogen, urine, nitrogen balance, feces, drinking water, Iceland
Four mature Icelandic geldings were used in a balance trial to investigate the effect of stage of maturity of timothy (Pleum pratence L.) haylage fed at maintenance level on coefficients of total tract apparent digestibility (CTTAD), and nitrogen and energy metabolism in a 4x4 change-over arrangement of treatments. The content of fibre increased and crude protein content decreased with advancing stage of maturity. Very high CTTAD values were found for DM, OM, CP, CF, NDF and ADF in the first two cuts. Overall, there was a negative relationship between stage of maturity (p <0.05) and the CTTAD of all measured dietary components. Nitrogen (N) intake, N losses in urine and N balance were affected (p <0.05) by stage of maturity, while the N losses in the faeces were unaffected. There was a strong correlation (r ² =0.95) between N balance and water intake. Gross energy intake and losses in urine (as % of digestible energy intake) were unaffected by stage of maturity, while the energy balance was affected (p <0.05). The digestible energy content of the timothy haylage studied ranged from 14.1 to 9.0 MJ/kg DM. In conclusion, early-cut timothy haylage (stem elongation to flowering) has the energy content required to form the basis of diets for high-performing horses. Late-cut timothy haylage (seeding to late seeding), on the other hand, can be used to fulfil the energy and protein needs of maintenance-fed Icelandic horses.