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How does the suppression of energy supplementation affect herbage intake, performance and parasitism in lactating saddle mares?

Abstract : Agroecology opens up new perspectives for the design of sustainable farming systems by using the stimulation of natural processes to reduce the inputs needed for production. In horse farming systems, the challenge is to maximize the proportion of forages in the diet, and to develop alternatives to synthetic chemical drugs for controlling gastrointestinal nematodes. Lactating saddle mares, with high nutritional requirements, are commonly supplemented with concentrates at pasture, although the influence of energy supplementation on voluntary intake, performance and immune response against parasites has not yet been quantified. In a 4-month study, 16 lactating mares experimentally infected with cyathostome larvae either received a daily supplement of barley (60% of energy requirements for lactation) or were non-supplemented. The mares were rotationally grazed on permanent pastures over three vegetation cycles. All the mares met their energy requirements and maintained their body condition score higher than 3. In both treatments, they produced foals with a satisfying growth rate (cycle 1: 1293 g/day; cycle 2: 1029 g/day; cycle 3: 559 g/day) and conformation (according to measurements of height at withers and cannon bone width at 11 months). Parasite egg excretion by mares increased in both groups during the grazing season (from 150 to 2011 epg), independently of whether they were supplemented or not. This suggests that energy supplementation did not improve mare ability to regulate parasite burden. Under unlimited herbage conditions, grass dry matter intake by supplemented mares remained stable around 22.6 g DM/kg LW per day (i.e. 13.5 kg DM/al per day), whereas non-supplemented mares increased voluntary intake from 22.6 to 28.0 g DM/kg LW per day (13.5 to 17.2 kg DM/al per day) between mid-June and the end of August. Hence total digestible dry matter intake and net energy intake did not signi ficantly differ between supplemented and non-supplemented mares during the second and third cycles. In conclusion, supplementing lactating mares at pasture should not be systematic because their adaptive capacities enable to increase herbage intake and ensure foal growth. Further research is needed to determine the herbage allowance threshold below which supplementation is required
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 7:03:50 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 2:22:57 PM

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Claire Collas, Géraldine Fleurance, Jacques Cabaret, William Martin-Rosset, L. Wimel, et al.. How does the suppression of energy supplementation affect herbage intake, performance and parasitism in lactating saddle mares?. animal, Published by Elsevier (since 2021) / Cambridge University Press (until 2020), 2014, 8 (8), pp.1290-1297. ⟨10.1017/S175173111400127X⟩. ⟨hal-02631028⟩

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