Good quality maize silage has been declared a suitable feed for horses by researchers in Slovakia, but mainly as a contributor to their feed rations.
A study team from the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra conducted an experiment to assess how well horses digested maize silage.
The research was carried out at the University Experimental Farm in Kolíňany, where the maize silage was produced. It was harvested and chopped to an average length of 20 millimetres before being placed in a silage bunker. No additives were used.
Each kilogram of the resulting silage was found to contain 362.3 grams of dry matter, 74.1 grams of crude protein and 27.1 gram of crude fat.
The study team also looked at several other elements of the silage, including the ratio of lactic to acetic acid.
Four horses with Slovak warmblood breeding were stabled for the experiment. Their average age was 2.5 years. Their horse boxes contained no bedding because of the risk they would eat it.
They received two measured meals of maize silage a day for the five-day experiment, which began after the horses had been through a seven-day adaptation period. In all, each horse received 10.2kg of the silage a day. The animals had free access to water.
Their manure was collected for analysis to determine how well they were digesting the silage.
Miroslav Juracek and his colleagues, writing in the Journal of Central European Agriculture, reported that the digestibility of dry matter in the silage ranged from 57.86% to 66.11%, with the average being 61.94%.
The horses digested, on average, 56.03% of the available crude protein and 72.34% of the crude fat.
Apparent digestibility of organic matter ranged from 61.09% to 68.25%, with an average of 65.19%.
“Maize silage with good nutritional and fermentation quality is a suitable feed for horses, mainly as part of feed rations,” they concluded.
Juracek was joined in the study by Adriana Pisova, Branislav Galik, Daniel Biro, Milan Simko, Michal Rolinec, Róbert Herkel and Ondrej Hanusovsky.
Apparent in vivo nutrient digestibility of maize silages in horses
Adriana PÍŠOVÁ, Branislav GÁLIK, Miroslav JURÁČEK*, Daniel BÍRO, Milan ŠIMKO, Michal ROLINEC, Róbert HERKEĽ and Ondrej HANUŠOVSKÝ.
Journal of Central European Agriculture, 2016, 17(4), p.1298-1305 DOI: 10.5513/JCEA01/17.4.1848
The study, published under a Creative Commons License, can be read here.