Effect of conservation method on quality of forages and on the feed preference of horses
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In the present study, the conservation method did not have a great impact on the chemical composition or on the microbial counts of the two differently preserved forages (hay vs. haylage). In the contrast the different maturity stage (late flower vs. mature stage) indeed had an effect on the nutritive value and the hygienic status of the experimental forages. The late flower forages had a higher crude protein (CP) content and a lower crude fibre (CF) proportion. They also showed lower microbial counts of product-typical bacteria, moulds and black fungi than the mature stage forages. However, the horses preferences were influenced by the different conservation method: Haylage was preferred during the whole experimental feeding period when both types of conserved forages of the late bloom stage were offered simultaneously. The reason for the horses choice remains unclear as no evident differences were found between the hay and haylage.