Possible diet structure alternatives to the traditional diet
Supplementing high-fibre forage diets with concentrated grain feed is common for meeting energy needs, such as sport horses and lactating mares. This study suggests replacing the traditional diet supplying forage and concentrate separately for a thermally processed complete feed supplying both combined. And assesses nutrient digestibility and fermentative effects in 8 ponies via faecal and blood analysis, through 4 cycles of 20 days, including adaptation and collection periods. Both, traditional and the complete diets, pelletized and extruded, provided equal isoprotein portions with 1.75 BW daily dry matter intake.
The tested complete diet involved thermal processing to prevent the dietary components separation during seizure and mastication and selection. While aiming to reduce hay waste, labour, storage and transportation. As well as enabling the use of industry by-products, usually a cheap but unhealthy addition. Whereas, thermal processing is also known to change protein conformation through denaturation.
The traditional diet showed higher digestibility in comparing to both methods of the complete diet. While the pelletized complete diet demonstrated higher faecal lactate and pH concentrations.
In conclusion, no gastrointestinal or clinical problems were observed during this short-term study and complete diets might simplify feeding management. However, their safety and effects on digestion, feeding behaviour, microbial fermentation and intestinal health are still not clear enough. Therefor more studies and information is needed.
Expert opinion by Shirley Ferber
The complete diet effects on digestion, feeding behaviour, microbial fermentation and intestinal health are not clear and require further research. Traditionally separated diets seem like the safer, more flexible, choice to ensure safe sugar and starch concentrations while meeting fibre and energetic needs.
> From: Feltre et al., Livestock Science 223 (2019) 151-156. All rights reserved to © 2019 Elsevier B.V.. Click here for the online summary.