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Nitrogen digestion and urea recycling in Hokkaido native horses fed hay‐based diets

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Nitrogen (N) digestion and urea‐N metabolism in Hokkaido native horses fed roughage‐based diets containing different types and levels of protein sources were studied. Horses (173 ± 4.8 kg) fitted with an ileum cannula were fed four diets consisting of 100% timothy hay (TH), 88% TH and 12% soybean meal (SBM), 79% TH and 21% SBM, and 51% TH and 49% alfalfa hay at 2.2% of body weight. Dietary protein content varied from 5% to 15% of dry matter. Apparent N digestibilities in the pre‐cecum and total tract for the TH diet were lower than those for other diets. However, the proportion of post‐ileum N digestion to N intake was not affected by the diets. Urea‐N production was linearly related to N intake, but gut urea‐N entry was not affected by the diets. The proportion of gut urea‐N entry to urea‐N production tended to be higher for the TH diet (57%) than the two SBM diets (39%). Anabolic use of urea‐N entering the gut was not affected by the diets (20–36% of gut urea‐N entry). These results indicate that urea‐N recycling provides additional N sources for microbial fermentation in the hindgut of Hokkaido native horses fed low‐quality roughages.
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Keywords: digestion; horse; nitrogen utilization; urea recycling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2015

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