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The development of a metabolizable energy system for horses.

  • Kienzle, Ellen
  • Zeyner, Annette
Published Article
Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2010
DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2010.01015.x
PMID: 20626500


The development of a metabolizable energy (ME) system for horses is described. Predictive equations for gross energy and digestible energy (DE) are revisited. The relationship between feed protein content and renal energy losses and the relationship between feed fibre content and methane energy losses were analysed in a literature review to develop predictive equations for ME. In horses, renal energy losses are much higher than losses by methane energy. Renal energy losses were correlated more strictly to protein intake than to digestible protein intake. The reason probably is that per gram of digestible crude protein energy losses are higher for roughage than for concentrates presumably because phenolic acids of forage cell walls contribute to higher urinary energy losses. However, digestibility of protein is lower in forages than in concentrates. The net result is a rather constant urinary energy loss of 0.008 MJ/g of crude protein in the feed. Methane losses in horses are smaller than in ruminants, presumably because of reductive acidogenesis in hind gut fermentation. Methane energy losses in equines are closely related to crude fibre intake. The mean methane energy losses amount to 0.002 MJ ME/g of crude fibre which can be used to correct for methane losses. Both corrections can be made for any predictive equation for DE. Metabolizable energy is then calculated as follows: ME MJ/kg = DE MJ/kg - 0.008 MJ/g crude protein - 0.002 MJ/g crude fibre. The equation of Zeyner and Kienzle (2002) to predict DE was adapted as mentioned above to predict ME: ME (MJ/kg dry matter) = -3.54 + 0.0129 crude protein+0.0420 crude fat-0.0019 crude fibre+0.0185 N-free extract (crude nutrients in g/kg dry matter).

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