De-hydrated forages are often fed to equids in the UK in place of more traditional grass hay, particularly where individual animals are known to have a sensitivity to dusty, mouldy hay which may play a part inducing respiratory problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). One such alternative forage is short-chop de-hydrated grass. However, there is very little information available on voluntary feed intake (VFI), apparent digestibility and nutrient intake parameters when de-hydrated grass is offered to equids compared with traditional grass hay. This study examines the VFI and apparent digestibility in vivo of a short-chop de-hydrated grass compared with a traditional grass hay and determines their ability to meet the predicted energy and protein needs of mature ponies.
Six mature Welsh-cross pony geldings with a mean liveweight (LW) of 281 kg (s.e.d. 0.89) were individually housed and offered ad libitum access to either short-chop de-hydrated grass (DHG) or traditional grass hay (HAY) plus 60 g/h/d minerals. The DHG and HAY were made from the same 2nd cut perennial ryegrass sward cut on the same day.