THE equine industry in Ireland is renowned globally and is estimated to be worth approximately €2 billion per annum to the Irish economy. While Ireland excels in horse production, the quality of forages (grass, hay, haylage, etc.) fed to Irish horses over the winter and throughout the grazing season is largely unknown.

Forages are an essential component of the diet of the horse and the National Research Council (NRC) guidelines recommend a minimum for age intake of 1% of body weight (BW) for a healthy equine digestive system. From the owners’ perspective, it is critical that the nutritive quality of these forages is optimised to ensure continued health, well-being and performance.