Hay or haylage for horses: a comparison

In horse diets, hay is getting more and more replaced by haylage. In 2011, hay and haylage were produced in Avenches VD from an Italian ryegrass as well as from a mixture, which contained ten grasses and alfalfa. The conservation properties, the nutritional values and the microbiological quality of the feed were evaluated with regard to the feeding of horses. In comparison to the mixture, the ryegrass showed lower crude ash, crude protein, crude fiber and digestible crude protein contents, but higher sugar and fructan contents and more digestible energy for horses, which was estimated on the basis of the nutritional values. The conservation systems either hay or haylage, had a significant effect on the crude protein, the digestible crude protein and fructan contents. The crude protein and digestible crude protein in the hay were lower than in the haylage; however, the fructan contents were higher. There were considerable differences in the microbiological quality of hay and haylage. The hay was not dry enough at baling (DM-content < 82 %) and therefore, the hay had a high mould infestation after the storage period. In this comparison, haylage proved to be more advantageous than hay for horses due to lower fructan contents and the lower mould infestation.

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