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 12-d adaptation period. Forage preference as measured by individual forage dry matter (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.
Cummins, Rachel R.; Coffey, Kenneth; Jack, Nancy; Jogan, Kathleen; Gbur, Edward; Rhein, Robert; Philipp, Dirk; Adams, Melissa; Smith, William; and Clayton, Katherine
"Palatability of teff grass by horses,"
Discovery, The Student Journal of Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 15:26-33.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/discoverymag/vol15/iss1/7