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J Anim Sci. 1993 Dec;71(12):3350-8.

Effects of diet and hindgut defaunation on diet digestibility and microbial concentrations in the cecum and colon of the horse.

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  • 1Department of Animal Science, Ohio State University, Wooster 44691-4096.


The effects of diet and hindgut defaunation (removal of protozoa from the hindgut) on diet digestibility (Trial 1) and on total and cellulolytic bacterial and fungal concentrations in the cecum and colon (Trial 2) were investigated. A high-forage (HF) diet, 90% alfalfa hay-10% concentrate, or a higher-concentrate (HC) diet, 60% alfalfa hay-40% concentrate, was limit-fed. In Trial 1, defaunation resulted in a slight decrease in DM digestibility (P < .1) and had no effect on cellulose digestibility. Dry matter digestibility was higher (P < .001) with the HC diet; however, no differences were observed in cellulose digestion. For the faunated periods, protozoal concentrations were similar in the cecum and greater in the colon for both diets (P < .05). A diet x location interaction was observed for the genera Buetschlia and Blepharocorys. In Trial 2, defaunation had no effect on either total or cellulolytic bacterial concentrations in the cecum or colon. Total bacterial concentrations were higher (P < .06) in the colon when ponies were fed the HC diet. Defaunation did not affect total fungal concentrations in the cecum; however, fungal concentrations in the colon were slightly higher (P < .1) when the ponies were defaunated. Diet had no effect on total or cellulolytic fungal concentrations. Both total and cellulolytic fungal concentrations were approximately 10-fold higher in the colon than in the cecum (P < .01). Protozoa do not seem to play an essential role in the fermentation of feedstuffs in the equine hindgut.

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