The aim of this work was to assess the impact of substituting starch (S) or inulin (I) with high-temperature dried alfalfa (HTDA) as substrates for in vitro fermentation with an equine faecal inoculum. A series of experiments were conducted to assess the fermentation kinetics of HTDA (chopped [CA] or ground [GA]) and either S or I mixed in the following ratios; 100:0, 80:20, 60:40, 40:60 and 20:80S/I: CA/GA, respectively. For each experiment, a further set of bottles containing identical ratios of S/I: CA/GA were also prepared, with the exception that the alfalfa received a simulated foregut digestion treatment (SFD) as prior to incubation. Total gas production increased (P<0.05) as the ratio of S/I to alfalfa increased. Total gas production was lower in bottles containing SFD-treated alfalfa (P<0.001). Dry matter loss decreased proportionately with increasing level of alfalfa substitution of S/I (P<0.001). Values for pH were lower in bottles containing S or I, with pH values in bottles containing S alone falling to almost 6 and those with I dropping to pH 5 and under. However, the substitution of S or I with 40% alfalfa produced pH values above 6.7, which is within physiological levels encountered in the large intestine of the horse. Consequently, there appears to be considerable potential to buffer the deleterious effects of high-starch/fructan diets with the substitution of these substrates with high-temperature dried alfalfa.
- in vitro gas production