News last update:6 Aug 2012

Horses prefer silage, not hay

Hay, the staple winter diet of domesticated horses for over a thousand years, has come in last in a university study exploring equine preferences for conserved forage.

The carefully controlled study, carried out by researchers at the Department of Animal Nutrition and Management at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science in Uppsala, was designed to determine horses' preferences between wrapped forage (silage) and hay. The horses ate much more of the silage given to them, than the hay.

Preference for wrapped grass
The study involved four kinds of preserved forage - grass baled and wrapped with three different moisture contents, and hay. The four different kinds of forage fed to the horses had been made from the same paddock of grass, all of which was cut at the same time. The horses' clear preference was for the wrapped grass with the highest moisture content.
They never left this in preference to any of the other feeds, and ate up to 90% of what was offered, compared with only 23% of the hay.

The containers from which the horses were fed were all the same size and colour, and were swapped around daily.

Related link:
University of Uppsala

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