Evaluation of equine rectal inoculum as representative of the microbial activities within the horse hindgut using a fully automated in vitro gas production technique system

Theresa J. Kujawa*, David A. van Doorn, Wendy A. Wambacq, Myriam Hesta, Wilbert F. Pellikaan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The in vitro gas production technique (IVGPT) has been a valuable tool in ruminant nutrition research for decades and has more recently been used in horse nutrition studies to investigate fermentation activities of the equine hindgut though primarily using feces as inoculum. This study was conducted to evaluate the use of equine rectal content in the IVGPT system as a viable inoculum that can be considered representative of the activities throughout the equine hindgut. Additionally, the study was conducted to measure the effects on fermentation kinetics and end-product production using inoculum from horses fed supplemental levels of coated sodium butyrate in an IVGPT system. Eight warmblood horses were fed a diet consisting of haylage (1% DM intake based on ideal body weight [BW]) and a mash concentrate formulated to provide 2.5 g nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC)/kg BW per meal. The diet was intended to create a NSC challenge to the microbial populations of the hindgut. The horses were randomly assigned to treatment or control group and after a 1-wk diet-adaptation period, the treatment group received 0.4 g/kg BW per day of a coated sodium butyrate supplement, while the control group received a placebo (coating only). After a 3-wk treatment period, the animals were sacrificed and digesta from the cecum, left ventral colon, right dorsal colon, and the rectum were collected within 30 min postmortem and used as inocula for the IVGPT trial. Haylage and concentrates fed to the test animals were also used as substrates in vitro. Sodium butyrate supplementation was not significant for gas production parameters or VFA measured suggesting no effect of sodium butyrate supplementation on the extent or kinetics of gas production or microbial end-product production (P ≥ 0.073). Differences in inocula were significant for organic matter corrected cumulative gas production (P = 0.0001), asymptotic gas production of the second phase (A2) (P < 0.0001); and maximal rate of OM degradation of the second phase (Rmax2) (P = 0.002). Inocula had a significant effect on total VFA (P = 0.0002), butyrate (Bu) (P = 0.015), branched chain fatty acids (P < 0.0001), pH (P < 0.0001), and ammonia (NH3) (P = 0.0024). In conclusion, based on observed results from this study, total tract digestibility may be overestimated if using rectal content inoculum to evaluate forage-based feeds in an IVGPT system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberskaa050
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • in vitro gas production
  • digesta inocula
  • equine
  • intestinal compartments
  • microbial fermentation


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