Influence of diet fortification on body composition and apparent digestion in mature horses consuming a low-quality forage. Academic Article uri icon


  • Stock-type mares (498 9 kg BW; 12 7 yr) were used in a completely randomized design for 56 d to test the hypothesis that concentrate fortification improves apparent digestion and enhances lean mass over the topline. Horses were stratified by age, BW, and BCS and randomly assigned to either a custom pelleted concentrate (CON; n = 13), or an iso-caloric, iso-nitrogenous pellet that included amino acid fortification, complexed trace minerals, and fermentation metabolites (FORT; n = 10). Concentrate was offered at a total 0.75% BW/d (as-fed) twice daily, and diets were designed to meet or exceed maintenance requirements for mature horses. Horses had ad libitum access to Coastal bermudagrass hay (7.4% CP, 67% NDF, and 40% ADF). Every 14 d BW and BCS were recorded, and ultrasound images were captured every 28 d. longissimus dorsi area (LDA) and subcutaneous fat thickness (FT) were measured between the 12th and 13th ribs (12th/13th) and 17th and 18th ribs (17th/18th). Intramuscular fat at the 17th/18th ribs and rump fat-thickness were also obtained. Horses were dosed with 10 g/d of titanium dioxide (TiO2) for 14 d to estimate forage dry matter intake (DMI). To account for diurnal variation, fecal samples were collected twice daily at 12-h intervals during the last 4 days, advancing by 3 h each day to represent a 24-h period. Fecal samples were composited by horse and analyzed for TiO2 to estimate fecal output and acid detergent insoluble ash was used to calculate forage DMI. To evaluate body composition, horses were infused with a 0.12 g/kg BW deuterium oxide (D2O) on d 0 and 56. Body fat percentage (BF) was determined by quantifying D2O in plasma samples collected at pre- and 4-h postinfusion via mass spectrometry. All data were analyzed using PROC MIXED (SAS v9.4). The model contained a fixed effect of diet; horse (diet) was a random effect. Horses receiving FORT gained 17th/18th FT (P < 0.01) and increased 17th/18th LDA from d 0 to 56 (P < 0.01) while 17th/18th FT and LDA were unchanged in CON. Regardless of diet, BF estimated by D2O infusion increased in all horses from d 0 to 56 (P < 0.01). Average hay DMI was 2.1% BW, but did not differ between diets. In this study, concentrate fortification did not significantly (P 0.27) affect apparent digestion. In conclusion, concentrate fortification may promote greater muscle development along the posterior topline.

published proceedings

  • Transl Anim Sci

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Much, M. L., Leatherwood, J. L., Zoller, J. L., Bradbery, A. N., Martinez, R. E., Keegan, A. D., Lamprecht, E. D., & Wickersham, T. A.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Much, Mattea L||Leatherwood, Jessica L||Zoller, Jennifer L||Bradbery, Amanda N||Martinez, Rafael E||Keegan, Abby D||Lamprecht, Emily D||Wickersham, Tryon A

publication date

  • January 2020