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How Is a Digestibility Trial Conducted at KER?By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · August 7, 2017

At Kentucky Equine Research, horses generally participate in two types of studies, those that delve into questions about exercise physiology and those that explore factors involved in nutrition. For studies on nutrition, the objective may be to learn how easily horses digest certain nutrients that are provided by forage and grain.

Horses are fed a precisely analyzed and measured experimental diet in an in vivo digestibility trial. They are stalled individually but allowed access to turnout in a drylot or in muzzles to prevent grazing. Collection periods are integrated into each trial, with each period consisting of a dietary adjustment period (usually 14 or 21 days) and a five-day urine and feces or feces-only collection period.

Analysis of these waste products answers the questions about how well the various nutrients have been absorbed and used by the horse. 

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