How is Nutrient Digestibility Determined in Horses?

Kentucky Equine Research (KER) has conducted dozens of digestibility trials to evaluate how well various nutrients are absorbed from different types of feeds and feed ingredients. For each trial, a standardized experimental design was used to measure digestibility. Horses were fed different diets for three weeks followed by a five-day complete fecal collection period. Samples of feed and feces were analyzed for nutrient content. By comparing the analyses, digestibility of each nutrient was calculated.

Using this pattern, 30 different diets have been evaluated. They have ranged from alfalfa hay to a combination of sweet feed and fescue hay to pelleted concentrates fed with timothy hay. The results have yielded information on nutrient requirements and interactions as well as energy, protein, fiber, carbohydrate, fat, and mineral content of a number of horse feed types. Specific test results are listed in this report.

This report of KER’s 1994 research was published in Advances in Equine Nutrition.

Read the entire research report, titled Nutrient Digestibility in Horses.