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Energy intake and growth of weanling horses in a cold loose housing system

Autio, Elena; Sihto, Ulla; Mononen, Jaakko and Heiskanen, Minna-Liisa (2008) Energy intake and growth of weanling horses in a cold loose housing system. Agricultural and Food Science, 17 (4), pp. 338-350.

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Document available online at: http://www.mtt.fi/afs/pdf/mtt-afs-v17n4p338.pdf


The demand for information relating to the nutrition of horses in a cold environment is increasing with the popularity of loose housing of horses. This study examined the energy intake and growth of 10 weanling horses from November to March (22 weeks) in a loose housing system (paddock and insulated sleeping hall with deep-litter bed). The horses were measured weekly for body condition and body weight, and the feeding was adjusted according to a horse’s body condition. Metabolizable energy (ME) intake was compared to Finnish (MTT 2006) and Swedish (SLU 2004) nutrient requirements for 6–12-month-old horses. ME intake (75.5 ± 11.8 MJ d-1, mean ± SD) was on average 24.6% above the requirements. The intake varied in a non-linear fashion in the course of the winter: y = 0.086x2 – 0.902x + 71.5, where x is weeks from November to March (p<0.001, R2=0.63). Low ambient temperature increased ME intake by about 1.8% in November (p<0.001), 0.5% in December (p<0.001) and 0.2% in January (p<0.05) per 1 °C decrease in ambient temperature when compared to nutrient requirements, but not in February and March. We conclude that the amount of extra energy needed decreases during the winter as the horses grow and acclimatize to the cold housing environment, i.e. as their body insulation increases. Horses gain weight at or above expected rates in cold conditions when the increased energy need is taken into account in the feeding.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:horse, housing, temperature, energy intake, growth
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Research affiliation: Finland
Deposited By: Koistinen, Riitta
ID Code:16975
Deposited On:09 Apr 2010 09:25
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:44
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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