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Feeding systems for horses on high forage diets

INRA Prod. Anim., 10(5), 363-374.


1 INRA Laboratoire Adaptation des Herbivores aux Milieux, Theix 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle

2 INRA Station de Recherche sur la Nutrition des Herbivores, Theix 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle
3 Institut du Cheval - DEFI, Station expérimentale des Haras, Domaine de la Valade, 19370 Chamberet

Horses can make use of plant resources in temperate climates in feeding systems based on preserved forages and grazing to produce horses for sport, leisure or meat. Feeding systems for the brood mare herd are described in good grassland conditions or in upland conditions. In harsh conditions, utilisation of the body reserves by mares during the production cycle allows them to maintain the management herd system and to produce heavy foals. Growing horses can be fed different types of diets based on forages during winter periods. The level of concentrate supplementation in the diet can regulate the growing performances according to the horse type. Heavy breed foals, intended for meat production, make use of diets based on forages and grass with different energy supplementations according to their slaughter age and expected body condition. The ability of the horse to be managed in high forage feeding systems is explained in a major part by the distinctive features of the horse, which enable it to select, consume and digest forages and grazed resources. However, new knowledge is required on ingestive regulation and on feeding behaviour of horses, as they make more and more use of plant resources in extensive conditions.

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