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Apparent digestibilities of diets based on timothy and Italian ryegrass hay harvested in different regions in Japan fed to exercising Thoroughbreds

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The apparent digestibility of diets based on timothy hay harvested in Hidaka in Hokkaido (HT) and Italian ryegrass hay harvested in Miyazaki in Kyushu (MI) were compared in Thoroughbreds undergoing exercise. The nitrogen retention and plasma-free amino acid (AA) concentrations were also examined to evaluate the quality of the protein contained in the two types of hay. Four male Thoroughbreds (aged 34.4 ± 0.9 months (mean ± standard deviation) and weighing 506.3 ± 30.4 kg) undergoing exercise training at 80% of maximal heart rate were used for the study, and the apparent digestibility of the diets based on HT and MI was assessed. The net nitrogen balance was also measured by subtracting the amount of nitrogen excreted in the feces and urine from the total nitrogen intake. The apparent digestibilities of dry matter, energy, neutral detergent fiber and ether extract were all higher in the MI group than in the HT group (P < 0.05). The larger energy digestibility in the MI group (56.8 ± 3.3%) compared with that in the HT group (51.6 ± 2.4%) was attributed to the relatively easy digestibility of hemicellulose. The net nitrogen balance and plasma AA concentrations did not differ significantly between the two forage groups. We concluded that the nutritive value of MI is adequate for exercising horses, even though the timothy and Italian ryegrass used in this study were second cuttings, and their nutrient values were not easily comparable.
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Keywords: Italian ryegrass hay; apparent digestibility; exercising horses; timothy hay

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Equine Science Division, Hidaka Training and Research Center, Japan Racing Association, Urakawa-cho, Hokkaido, Japan

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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