Comparative fibre-degrading capacity in foals at immediate and late post-weaning periods

Abstract : Total tract apparent digestibility of dietary fibrous components and parameters of the faecal digestive ecosystem were compared at immediate and late post-weaning periods using five foals. The foals were abruptly weaned (day 0) from their mares at 6 months of age. Immediately (day 0 to day 14) and later (day 131 to day 194) after weaning, foals received the same basal diet consisting of hay and pellets. Pellets were fed at 0.36% BW. Hay was offered ad libitum and corresponded to 120% of the average voluntary hay intake measured individually during the immediate (days 1 to 4) and late (days 180 to 183) post-weaning periods. Total feed intake was measured during the two post-weaning periods (from days 7 to 10 and from days 187 to 190). Total tract apparent digestibility of DM, organic matter (OM), NDF and ADF was assessed using a 4-day partial collection of faeces (from days 8 to 11 and from days 188 to 191). Major bacterial groups in faeces, Fibrobacter succinogenes, DM, pH and volatile fatty acids were quantified at days -1, 1, 3, 7, 14 and 180. During the post-weaning period, minor changes were observed in the composition and activity of the faecal microbiota. The amylolytic count in faeces decreased immediately after weaning (between days 1 and 7) (P<0.05). Later (from days 14 to 180), the molar proportion of propionate decreased (P=0.03). The limited alteration seen in the hindgut ecosystem was probably due to the fact that the foals had undergone a gradual dietary transition from milk to solid feed before weaning. Such conclusions have also been reported in other animal species. Between the immediate and late post-weaning periods, the average daily feed intake and the digestibility coefficients of DM, OM, NDF and ADF increased (P<0.05). These results could suggest an increase in the fibre-degrading capacity of foals after weaning.
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Journal articles
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Céline Faubladier, Véronique Julliand, L. Beuneiche, Christelle Philippeau. Comparative fibre-degrading capacity in foals at immediate and late post-weaning periods. animal, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2017, 11 (09), pp.1497 - 1504. ⟨10.1017/S1751731117000349⟩. ⟨hal-01833377⟩

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