Date of Graduation

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Animal Science

Advisor

Coffey, Kenneth P

Reader

Rosenkrans, Charles F

Second Reader

Phillipp, Dirk

Third Reader

Jack, Nancy

Abstract

Most forages commonly used to feed horses have potential detriments including blister beetles or excessive fiber concentrations. Teff grass (T), a warm-season annual forage, has the potential to be a good alternative for horses because of its lack of observed disorders. Our objective was to compare preference by horses for T harvested under different conditions with that of bermudagrass (B) harvested at two maturities. Six different forages were evaluated: T harvested at the late vegetative stage (TLV), at late bloom but that incurred 33 mm of rainfall between mowing and baling (TLBR), with caryopsis visible (TES), or at soft dough (TSD), and B harvested at late vegetative (BLV) and mid-bloom (BMB) growth stages. Five mature horses were used in a balanced incomplete block design where each horse received a different combination of 4 forages each day for 6 d. The 4 different forages were suspended in hay nets in each corner of each stall, and each hay was offered at 50% of the average daily hay consumption measured during a 10-d adaptation period. Forage preference as measured by individual forage DM consumption (kg and % of total DM consumed across the 4 forages) was greatest (P< 0.05) from TLV followed by BLV. Preference (kg and % of total DM consumed) of BMB was greater (P< 0.05) than that of TMBR, TES, and TSD, which did not differ from each other (P ≥ 0.63). Therefore, within a specific growth stage, horses apparently preferred teff grass, but effects of maturity and rainfall had a more dramatic effect on preference by horses than forage species.

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