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Article

Straw as an Alternative to Grass Forage in Horses—Effects on Post-Prandial Metabolic Profile, Energy Intake, Behaviour and Gastric Ulceration

1
Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden
2
WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute Waltham-on-the Wolds, Melton Mowbray, Leics LE14 4RT, UK
3
University Animal Hospital, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden
4
Hestedoktoren I/S, Hvalsøvej 298, 4360 Kr. Eskilstrup, Denmark
5
Department of Equine Science, Hólar University, IS-551 Sauðárkrókur, Iceland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Markku Saastamoinen, Jo-Anne Murray and Rasmus Bovbjerg Jensen
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2197; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082197
Received: 10 June 2021 / Revised: 9 July 2021 / Accepted: 21 July 2021 / Published: 24 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and Management of the Horse)
Many leisure horses have low energy requirements and obesity is common. Straw has a low energy content and could be a forage option for these horses. However, a previous study suggested that providing straw as the only forage was associated with an increased risk for gastric ulcers. This study evaluated replacing 50% of the daily forage allowance with a good hygienic quality wheat straw. Six horses were fed both the control diet (grass forage only, CON) and the straw diet (50:50 grass forage and straw, S). Each diet was fed for three weeks and all horses were evaluated on both diets. Diet did not affect the prevalence of gastric ulcers. Feed intake time was longer and daily energy intake lower on diet S, compared to CON. Plasma insulin levels were lower on diet S compared to CON, which could be beneficial for horses with overweight or insulin dysregulation. The results suggest that good hygienic wheat straw provided at 50% of the forage ration does not cause gastric ulcers, but may prolong feeding time and promote a metabolic profile more suitable for overweight horses. Including straw as part of the ration therefore may improve welfare for horses with low energy requirements.
Straw’s low energy content means it is a roughage option for horses with low energy requirements. Previously, in a field study, straw was associated with an increased risk for gastric ulcers. This study evaluated the effect on gastric ulcers, metabolic profile and behaviour of replacing, in a forage-only ration, 50% of the daily allowance with wheat straw. Six equines were studied in a 2 × 21-day cross-over design. The control diet (CON: 100% grass forage) and the straw diet (S: 50% grass forage and 50% straw [DM basis]) were iso-energetic. Gastroscopy was performed prior to the study and on day 21 and blood samples were collected and behavioural observations were performed. Diet did not affect squamous or glandular gastric ulcer scores (p > 0.05). Feed intake time was longer (p < 0.05) plus energy intake and plasma insulin concentrations were lower on diet S compared to CON (p < 0.0001). Plasma serotonin concentrations tended to be higher on diet S compared to CON (p = 0.05). The results suggest that good hygienic quality wheat straw can be included for up to 50% of the diet without causing gastric ulcers and that it can extend feeding time and promote a metabolic profile more suitable for overweight horses. View Full-Text
Keywords: gastric ulcer; insulin; satiety; straw; serotonin; weight loss gastric ulcer; insulin; satiety; straw; serotonin; weight loss
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MDPI and ACS Style

Jansson, A.; Harris, P.; Davey, S.L.; Luthersson, N.; Ragnarsson, S.; Ringmark, S. Straw as an Alternative to Grass Forage in Horses—Effects on Post-Prandial Metabolic Profile, Energy Intake, Behaviour and Gastric Ulceration. Animals 2021, 11, 2197. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082197

AMA Style

Jansson A, Harris P, Davey SL, Luthersson N, Ragnarsson S, Ringmark S. Straw as an Alternative to Grass Forage in Horses—Effects on Post-Prandial Metabolic Profile, Energy Intake, Behaviour and Gastric Ulceration. Animals. 2021; 11(8):2197. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082197

Chicago/Turabian Style

Jansson, Anna, Patricia Harris, Sara Larsdotter Davey, Nanna Luthersson, Sveinn Ragnarsson, and Sara Ringmark. 2021. "Straw as an Alternative to Grass Forage in Horses—Effects on Post-Prandial Metabolic Profile, Energy Intake, Behaviour and Gastric Ulceration" Animals 11, no. 8: 2197. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082197

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