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Equine Vet J. 1992 Mar;24(2):84-9.

A comparison between the nutritive value of short-cutting cycle, high temperature-dried alfalfa and timothy hay for horses.

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Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Midlothian, UK.


The objective was to evaluate the nutritive value of short-cutting cycle, high temperature-dried (SCCHTD) alfalfa compared to timothy hay. This was achieved by carrying out 4 x 4 Latin Square digestibility trial using 4 Thoroughbred (one three-quarter Thoroughbred) horses (mean liveweight, 531 kg). The four dietary treatments were 0AA (timothy hay only), 33AA (0.33 alfalfa: 0.67 timothy hay), 67AA (0.67 alfalfa: 0.33 timothy hay) and 100AA (alfalfa only). Digestibility data were obtained by using acid-insoluble ash to estimate apparent digestibility coefficients of nutrients. Rate of passage of the feedstuff was determined using chromium-mordanted hay. Plasma triglyceride and cholesterol concentrations were estimated. The digestibilities of organic matter (0.63), energy (0.57) and crude protein (0.74) of the alfalfa were significantly (P less than 0.001) higher than those for the hay (0.45, 0.43 and 0.36 respectively). The fibre components of alfalfa and hay were digested to the same extent but the ether extract of alfalfa was less well digested. Alfalfa saponins had no consistently significant effects on plasma cholesterol and triglyceride values but may contribute to the negative digestibility of alfalfa ether extract. We conclude that SCCHTD alfalfa is of much higher nutritive value than timothy hay when fed to Thoroughbred horses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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