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Article

Effects of Differences in Fibre Composition and Maturity of Forage-Based Diets on the Microbial Ecosystem and Its Activity in Equine Caecum and Colon Digesta and Faeces

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AgroSup Dijon, Univ. Bourgogne Franche-Comté, PAM UMR A 02.102, 21000 Dijon, France
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AgroSup Dijon, INRAE, UMR AgroEcologie, BP 87999, CEDEX, 21079 Dijon, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2337; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082337
Received: 9 June 2021 / Revised: 16 July 2021 / Accepted: 29 July 2021 / Published: 8 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Nutrition)
Horses are herbivores and forage-based diets are a natural choice for them. Traditionally, horse diets have included a large portion of cereals and have been associated with different intestinal problems. Feeding more forage and less concentrate has been shown to promote both physical and mental health and performance in horses. However, the nutritional quality of forage can differ greatly. This study compared the effect of two different forage diets and the more conventional forage and concentrate diets, on the hindgut microorganisms and the environment. No differences were found between the three diets in the concentration of total bacteria, fungi and protozoa, of cellulose-utilising bacteria or in the concentration of short-chain fatty acids. It can be concluded that a forage diet which fulfils the energy and protein requirements without having to add starch rich concentrate can benefit hindgut health. In addition, further studies on plant-fibre and forage diets for horses are of great importance for horse feeding, for advisors, veterinarians and for the diet formulations industry.
Fibrous feeds are essential for horses. When developing feeding regimens promoting health and performance, we need to understand the digestion of plant cell walls and the functioning of the hindgut microbial ecosystem. Our objective was to investigate the effect of grass fibre maturity and legume forage on the hindgut microbiota and its activity. Six caecum and colon fistulated geldings were fed three diets differing in fibre composition: concentrate and late harvested grass haylage (35:65 energy ratio) (C); early and late harvested grass haylage (80:20) (G); lucerne and late harvested grass haylage (80:20) (L) for 28 days in a Latin-square design. No differences were measured in total bacteria concentrations, fungi and protozoa numbers nor in cellulolytic bacteria concentrations between the diets. Short-chain fatty acid concentrations did not differ between diets, but a lower (acetate + butyrate)/propionate ratio when the horses were fed Diet C, compared to G and L, was observed, suggesting lower fibrolytic and higher amylolytic activity. The pH increased when the horses were fed Diet L and decreased when fed C and G from caecum to faeces. The buffering capacity (BC) of hindgut digesta was five to fifteen-fold higher than that of the feeds, suggesting a decreased effect of feed BC as digesta travelled through the digestive tract. In conclusion, an early harvested forage opens up the possibility for forage-only diets, providing high energy without the negative effects of concentrate. View Full-Text
Keywords: forage fibre; hindgut microbiota; grass; lucerne; digestion forage fibre; hindgut microbiota; grass; lucerne; digestion
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MDPI and ACS Style

Muhonen, S.; Sadet-Bourgeteau, S.; Julliand, V. Effects of Differences in Fibre Composition and Maturity of Forage-Based Diets on the Microbial Ecosystem and Its Activity in Equine Caecum and Colon Digesta and Faeces. Animals 2021, 11, 2337. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082337

AMA Style

Muhonen S, Sadet-Bourgeteau S, Julliand V. Effects of Differences in Fibre Composition and Maturity of Forage-Based Diets on the Microbial Ecosystem and Its Activity in Equine Caecum and Colon Digesta and Faeces. Animals. 2021; 11(8):2337. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082337

Chicago/Turabian Style

Muhonen, Sara, Sophie Sadet-Bourgeteau, and Véronique Julliand. 2021. "Effects of Differences in Fibre Composition and Maturity of Forage-Based Diets on the Microbial Ecosystem and Its Activity in Equine Caecum and Colon Digesta and Faeces" Animals 11, no. 8: 2337. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082337

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