Growth, nutrient utilization, radiographic bone characteristics and postprandial thyroid hormone concentrations in weanling horses fed added dietary fat


Thirty, 19-week-old Quarter Horses were utilized in a 112-d study to compare growth, nutrient utilization and post prandial thyroid hormone concentrations in weanling horses fed fat-supplemented or conventional diets. Concentrates were formulated to contain the same nutrient-calorie ratios and were fed with Coastal Bermuda grass hay in a 70:30 concentrate:hay ratio. Initially and at 28-d intervals the horses were weighed and measured for height, heart girth circumfer ence and subcutaneous fat thickness over the rump and ribs. Radiographs were taken of the right carpal and metacarpal phalangealjoints at the beginning and end of the experimental period for evaluation of bone density and physeal maturation. A digestion trial was conducted on each horse 10 d prior to completion of the study. On d 70, blood samples were col lected from 6 females in each treatment group over a 6-h collection period for evaluation of postprandial insulin, T and T concentrations in response to the diets. Horses in both groups consumed an average of 2.6% of body weight daily of total feed (Dry Matter). Weanlings consuming the fat-supplemented concentrate tended to have higher (P = .10) average daily weight gains (.80 vs .74 kg) and lower (P<.05) feed:gain ratios (6.3 vs 7.3) than weanlings fed the control diet. Gain in heart girth circumference was greater (P<.05) for the fat fed weanlings (20.1 cm) than the control weanlings (17.9 cm). All other linear measurements of growth were similar between treatments. There were no radiographic indications of abnormalities in the physes of horses on either treatment. Closure of the physes occurred at normal rates in foals on both treatments. Radiographic bone density was not different between treatments, and there was an expected increase in bone density in weanlings on both treatments over time. Digestibilities of protein and energy were similar between treatments, while ether extract and neutral detergent fiber digestibilities were higher (P<.05 and P<.06, respec tively) in those horses consuming the fat-supplemented diet (65.39 vs 57.67% and40.55 vs 35.62%, respectively). These data indicate that fat can be used as an energy source to support growth and development in weanling horses. © 1991, William E. Jones, All rights reserved.. All rights reserved. 4 3

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Journal of Equine Veterinary Science