Methodological aspects of digestibility measurements were studied in four Welsh pony geldings consuming haylage-based diets with increasing proportions of a pelleted concentrate according to a 4×4 Latin square design experiment. Ponies were fed four experimental, iso-energetic (net energy (NE) basis) diets (i.e. 22 MJ NE/day) with increasing proportions of a pelleted concentrate (C) in relation to haylage (H). The absolute amounts of diet dry matter fed per day were 4.48 kg of H (100H), 3.36 and 0.73 kg of H and C (75H25C), 2.24 and 1.45 kg of H and C (50H50C) and 1.12 and 2.17 kg of H and C (25H75C). Diets were supplemented with minerals, vitamins and TiO2 (3.7 g Ti/day). Voluntary voided faeces were quantitatively collected daily during 10 consecutive days and analysed for moisture, ash, ADL, acid-insoluble ash (AIA) and Ti. A minimum faeces collection period of 6 consecutive days, along with a 14-day period to adapt the animals to the diets and become accustomed to the collection procedure, is recommended to obtain accurate estimations on dry matter digestibility and organic matter digestibility (OMD) in equids fed haylage-based diets supplemented with concentrate. In addition, the recovery of AIA, ADL and Ti was determined and evaluated. Mean faecal recovery over 10 consecutive days across diets for AIA, ADL and Ti was 124.9% (SEM 2.9), 108.7% (SEM 2.0) and 97.5% (SEM 0.9), respectively. Cumulative faecal recovery of AIA significantly differed between treatments, indicating that AIA is inadequate to estimate the OMD in equines. In addition, evaluation of the CV of mean cumulative faecal recoveries obtained by AIA, ADL and Ti showed greater variations in faecal excretion of AIA (9.1) and ADL (7.4) than Ti (3.7). The accuracy of prediction of OMD was higher with the use of Ti than ADL. The use of Ti is preferred as a marker in digestibility trials in equines fed haylage-based diets supplemented with increasing amounts of pelleted concentrate.
- dietary markers
- total faeces collection