Effect of Supplementation of Sorghum Silage in Weanling Fillies During the Dry Period in Brazil

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Young horses reach nearly 90% of their final height in the first year of life. However, to achieve their genetic potential, it is necessary to receive adequate nutrition during this period of rapid growth. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of supplementation of sorghum silage during a period of limited pasture forage availability, on the body development, and health of Mangalarga Marchador (MM) weanling fillies. Fourteen healthy MM 6-month-old fillies were randomly assigned to one of two groups: GS (consuming silage) and GH (consuming grass hay (Cynodon spp) in addition to 1.5% of body weight (BW) in dry matter (DM) of a fortified corn-based concentrate (17% CP [crude protein]), which was fed in individual stalls divided into two feedings/day for both groups. After concentrate feedings, the experimental groups remained loose in drylot pens of 50 m2, where the assigned forages were fed ad libitum with free access to salt and water. Group feed intake of the forages was recorded. It was assumed they were consuming a forage:concentrate ratio of 50:50. To assess development, the animals were weighed and measured for height at the withers and croup, body length, girth, and cannon bone circumference. The physical condition of animals, including BW, rectal temperature, mucous membrane color, and body condition score were assessed as well as serum biochemical analyses of creatinine, urea, total protein, gamma glutaminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, glucose, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus concentrations were evaluated. The weights, morphometric measurements, clinical evaluation, and blood collections were done on the first day and every 21 days during the 84 days trial period. The growth performance and serum were subjected to analysis of variance for repeated measures, factoring treatment, and collection period. Despite higher (P < .05) DM and CP intakes by the GH fillies than those GS, there were no treatment effects (P > .05) on any of the development or health parameters measured. The use of sorghum silage as forage source for 84 days during the dry season had no negative impact on the body development and health of MM fillies (6–9 months of age) that were also fed 1.5% BW of a commercial concentrate balanced for growth.HighlightsGood sorghum silage can be used as an alternative of roughage in Brazil during the drought period.Sorghum silage did not negatively affect the body and health development of the fillies.It is possible to feed weanlings with sorghum silage for a small period during the dry season in Brazil. But a complementary of the ration of 1.5% body weight in concentrate feed and minerals are needed.

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