Effects of crude protein content on intake and digestion of coastal bermudagrass hay by horses. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study was conducted to determine the effects of forage crude protein (CP) level on intake and digestion of Coastal bermudagrass hay by horses. Four cecally fistulated geldings were used in a 4 4 Latin square design with four treatments and four periods. Horses were fed one of four Coastal bermudagrass hays consisting of 7%, 10%, 13%, or 16% CP during each of the four 15-d periods. Intake and apparent digestibility were determined for each horse at the end of each period by total fecal collection. In addition, cecal fluid and blood samples were collected on the last day of each period for the determination of cecal ammonia, cecal pH, plasma urea nitrogen (PUN), and plasma glucose concentrations. Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED of SAS. CP concentration of Coastal bermudagrass hay influenced equine intake and digestion. Increasing CP concentration linearly increased digestible organic matter intake (DOMI) from 3.79 to 5.98 kg/d for 7% and 16% CP hay, respectively (P = 0.04). Furthermore, as the forage CP level increased, CP intake increased linearly (P < 0.01). The forage CP level had no effect on forage dry matter intake. Quadratic effects (P 0.05) were observed for forage OM, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, and digestible energy. Overall digestibility was lowest for the 7% CP hay and highest for the 10% CP hay. Cecal pH remained above 6.62 irrespective of treatment and time, indicating that cecal pH was suitable for microbial growth. As the forage CP level increased, cecal ammonia concentration increased linearly from 0.03 mM for the 7% to 1.74 mM for the 16% CP hay (P < 0.01). Concentration of plasma glucose also linearly increased (P = 0.04) from 68.77 to 73.68 mg/dL as CP concentration increased from 7% to 16% CP. PUN exhibited a quadratic effect as concentration increased (P < 0.01) from 4.34 to 5.61 mM for the 7% and 16% CP hays, respectively. Overall, the 10% CP hay had the highest digestibility due to its higher OM digestion. As forage OMI increased, digestible OM increased until physiological capacity for digestion is exceeded. At that point, digestion will decline with the decrease in OMI, explaining the lower digestion for other forages fed.

published proceedings

  • Transl Anim Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Spurgin, C. L., Coverdale, J. A., Leatherwood, J. L., Redmon, L. A., Bradbery, A. N., & Wickersham, T. A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Spurgin, Chelsey L||Coverdale, Josie A||Leatherwood, Jessica L||Redmon, Larry A||Bradbery, Amanda N||Wickersham, Tryon A

publication date

  • July 2021