THE EFFECT OF DENTAL FLOATING ON NUTRIENT DIGESTION IN NON- PREGNANT QUARTER HORSE MARES
Starrett, Ashley Brooke
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Irregular wear patterns can cause poor feed digestion, weight loss, performance problems, and pain in the horse when wearing a halter or bridle. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that dental floating would increase crude protein and fiber digestion in non-pregnant stock-type mares. The study was conducted on 16 mares of mature age (4-17) that have not previously received dental care in the previous year. A diet consisting of ad libitum Cynodon dactylon hay and 1.36 kg of a balancer concentrate was fed daily prior to and during the study. Eight mares received dental work and eight served as untreated controls. Feces were collected for four days, before and 56 days after dental work, whereby acid insoluble ash (AIA) was used as a marker of digestibility. Feces and feed were analyzed for dry matter, AIA, crude protein, NDF, and ADF using standard wet chemistry laboratory techniques. Estimated apparent neutral detergent fiber digestibility was not affected by the time by treatment interaction or treatment (P>0.1). However, digestibility was greater on day 56 (86.3±1.3%) than day 0 (67±1.3%). There was a tendency for an effect of the time by treatment interaction for estimated apparent acid detergent fiber digestibility (P=0.073), whereby digestibility was not different for groups on day 0 (50.3±0.8% vs. 50.3±0.8%; P > 0.9) but was greater (P = 0.014) in dental treated horses (59.5±0.8%) than controls (56.5+0.8) on day 56. There was a tendency for dentistry to improve the month by treatment interaction for estimated apparent crude protein digestibility (P=0.0931), whereby digestibility was not different for groups at day 0 (50.2±0.8% vs. 49.9±0.8%; P > 0.9) but was greater (P = 0.0883) in dental treated horses (59.5±0.8%) than controls (56.5+0.8) at day 56. The main finding of this study was that dental correction tended to improve fiber and protein digestion, which is possibly due to the increased amount of mechanical digestion of forages. The second objective of this study was to determine whether the Computerized Horse Aging Program (CHAP) could accurately age horses within a 95% confidence interval and 10% margin of error. Photos were uploaded to the mobile app and compared to registered ages using Bland-Altman agreement analysis. The app accurately predicted age using upper incisors in horses between 8 and 13, while lower incisors were accurate between 8 and 10 years. CHAP can accurately predict age within 1 year, in horses aged 8-13.