What Is the Effect of Restricted Hay Intake Before Exercise in Horses? The goal of this study was to compare ad libitum and restricted (1% of body weight for a three-day period) hay intake on metabolic responses of Thoroughbreds. They were subjected to high-intensity exercise.
Free-choice hay intake averaged 9 kg (20 lb). Three days of restricted hay intake (10 lb per day) resulted in a 2% decrease in body weight. It was compared with free-choice feeding. During a sprint exercise test, oxygen consumption was higher in horses fed restricted hay. Oxygen deficit and peak plasma lactate were higher during exercise in horses fed ad libitum hay.
The reduction in body weight associated with restricted hay feeding coincided with greater oxygen consumption during exercise. In addition, a corresponding decrease in anaerobic energy expenditure and accumulation of blood lactate. As lactate accumulation can contribute to fatigue during high-intensity exercise, short-term (3 to 4 days) restriction of hay intake may be beneficial for racehorses.
This report of KER’s 2001 research was published in Proceedings of the 17th Equine Nutrition and Physiology Society Symposium.
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Article Source: Kentucky Equine Research