Interaction of Grazing Muzzle Use and Grass Species on Forage Intake of Horses

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Abstract

The impact of horse preference and grass morphology on grazing muzzle effectiveness has not been investigated. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of grazing muzzle use at reducing forage intake when horses grazed grasses with different morphology and preferences. The study was conducted in 2012 and 2013. Four horses were grazed in 2012, and three horses were grazed in 2013. Four species of perennial cool-season grasses were grazed in 2012 including Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.), meadow fescue (Schedonorus pratensis Huds.), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), and reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.). In 2013, only Kentucky bluegrass and reed canarygrass were grazed because of winter kill of other species. Horses were allowed to graze a small pasture seeded with an individual species for 4 hours each day in June and August of 2012 and August and September of 2013. Horses grazed the same grass species for two consecutive days, one day with a muzzle and one day without. Before and after each grazing, a strip was mechanically harvested to determine initial and residual herbage mass. The difference was used to estimate forage intake. The effectiveness of a grazing muzzle was not affected by forage species (P ≥ .05). Use of a grazing muzzle decreased the amount of forage consumed by an average of 30% compared with not using a grazing muzzle (P < .0001). Results will aid horse owners and professionals in estimating forage intake of muzzled horses on pasture.

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