Wrapped forages for horses – effect of plant maturity at harvest
NOTE! This is a finished project
Full project name: Wrapped forages for horses - effect of plant maturity at harvest on fermentation profile, hygienic quality and aerobic storage stability of the conserved forage, and on equine eating behaviour and digestion.
Project manager: Cecilia Müller
Variables used for assessment of hygienic quality in wrapped forages are based on values for precision-chopped silage conserved in silos, although the conservation methods are different. Silo-stored silage is not commonly used in equine nutrition, but wrapped bales of haylage, cut and harvested at a later plant maturity than most silo-stored silages, has become a regular feed in horse diets. The plant maturity at harvest is the dominating factor determining the nutritive value of the forage, but may also be an important factor influencing the fermentation profile, hygienic quality and aerobic storage stability in wrapped bales. Differences in the fermentation of the feed, that originates from plant maturity at harvest, may also influence the digestion of the forage, as well as equine eating behaviour. The aim of the study was therefore to examine the aerobic storage stability in haylage, as well as effects on equine digestion (hindgut) and eating behaviour. Three different plant maturities were used and the forages were conserved as haylage with approximately 450-500 g DM/kg.
This was a 2-year project going on from 2008 to 2010. During year 1 (2008/2009) conservation studies were made in laboratory silos, and during year 2 (2009/2010) conservations studies in bales were done together with a horse feeding trial.
This study was financed by the Swedish Foundation for Equine Research.
How much influence does the plant maturity of grass at cutting have on the hygienic quality of the conserved forage?
(Photographer: Cecilia Müller)