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N Z Vet J., 2003; 51(4): 165-73, PMID: 16032319

Digestible energy intake, dry matter digestibility and effect of increased calcium intake on bone parameters of grazing Thoroughbred weanlings in New Zealand

Jahr: 2003

Grace ND, Rogers CW, Firth EC, Faram TL, Shaw HL
AgResearch Grasslands, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


AIMS: To measure the nutritive value of pasture in terms of digestible energy intake (DEI) and dry matter (DM) digestibility, and the effects of increased calcium (Ca) intakes on apparent mineral absorption and bone characteristics in grazing weanling Thoroughbreds. METHODS: DM intake (DMI) and DEI were determined in 16 weanling Thoroughbreds grazing pasture from their daily faecal DM output, measured over 8 days, divided by the DM indigestible fraction (1-digestible DM) determined in a 6-day digestibility trial. The DM, gross energy content, crude protein, soluble carbohydrate, acid detergent fibre, neutral detergent fibre, lipid, Ca, phosphorus (P), sodium (Na), potassium(K), sulphur (S) and magnesium (Mg) composition of perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture and faeces were determined and their digestibility and/or apparent absorption calculated. Calcium intake and bone growth studies used 17 weanlings, randomly divided into three groups and fed perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture and 0.5 kg grain, with or without a CaCO3 supplement, for 84 days. The animals in Group 1 (n=6) were on a low Ca diet (3.5 g/kg DM) and were fed pasture only; those in Group 2 (n=5) were on a medium Ca diet (6.3 g/kg DM);and those in Group 3 (n=6) were on a high Ca diet (12.0 g/kg DM). After 44 days the apparent absorption of Ca was determined from the differences between the Ca intakes and faecal Ca outputs. At periods just before and after Ca supplementation the horses were anaesthetised and the left radius, third metacarpus(Mc3) and first phalanx of the left foreleg were scanned using a peripheral quantitative computed tomography scanner to determine cortical mineral content, density, area, periosteal circumference and bone strength. To investigate gastrointestinal tract transit time and DM digestibility, five randomly selected horses were administered Swiss screen bags on several occasions via a nasogastric tube. Each 60 x 10mm bag contained 3.21 (SE 0.37) g of frozen minced grass. Bags were recovered from the freshly passed faeces and frozen until analysis. RESULTS: The DM digestibility of the pasture was 0.62, while the DMI and DEI of weanlings (300 kg, gaining 0.7 kg/day) were 5.5 kg/day and 63 MJ/day, respectively. Increasing Ca intake had no significant effect on DEI, DM digestibility or on the apparent absorption of Ca, P, Na and K, but decreased the apparent absorption of Mg from 0.50 to 0.38. Regardless of Ca intake, the apparent absorption of Ca was 0.56. During the Ca administration trial there were significant increases overtime in the bone strength (strain stress index) of the proximal phalanx, Mc3 and radial diaphysis. However, the increase in bone strength was not associated with increase in dietary Ca, as neither the medium- nor high-Ca intake groups differed significantly from the low-Ca controls. The mean transit time for the Swiss screen bags was 25.46 (SE 0.09) h, and transit times were similar whether the horses were grazing or confined in loose boxes, being 26.64 (SE 0.23) h and 24.33 (SE 0.13) h, respectively. The DM digestibility determined using the bags was 0.54, which was significantly lower than the 0.62 determined by direct faeces collection. CONCLUSIONS: Good growth rates were achieved in Thoroughbred weanlings grazing perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture containing 3.5 g Ca/kg DM and a DE of 11.4 MJ/kg DM. Increasing dietary Ca intake 3.5-fold for 3 months had negligible impact on bone growth and development.

GID: 902; Letzte Änderung: 23.01.2008