BACKGROUND: Improving the hygienic quality of forages for horse nutrition seems to be a reasonable target for decreasing the prevalence of pulmonary diseases. The aim of the experiment was to study the effects of different agricultural practices on the main aero-allergens contained in forages, including breathable dust, fungi, mycotoxins and pollens.
RESULTS: Results showed that the late harvest of hay, a second crop or a haylage production provides a good alternative to increase hygienic quality by reducing fungi contamination and breathable dust content. Barn drying of hay, while having no effect on breathable dust, similarly reduced fungi contamination. In contrast, when hay was harvested at a lower dry mass content (750 g DM kg−1 versus 850 g DM kg−1), both breathable dust and fungi contaminations were increased, which could at least be reversed by adding propionic acid just before baling. Zearalenone was detected in different hays, and even in one case, in breathable dust.
CONCLUSION: Overall, our data suggest that different approaches can be used to increase forage hygienic quality for horse feeding and thus reduce their exposure to factors involved in equine pulmonary disease. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry