Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Quantitative characterization of the nutrition of the free-living horse (Equus caballus) on Vodnyi Island (Manych-Gudilo Lake).

Abstract

The nutritional value of plant fodder, daily consumption, and digestibility of forage were assessed in an isolated group of free-living (wild) horses inhabiting the pastures of Vodnyi Island during different seasons of 2010-2011. The digestibility was determined by the proportion between inert food components (silicon, lignin) in the diet and the feces. The daily intake of food was calculated according to the weight of the daily feces and digestibility of food. Daily food consumption of the free-living horses during the snowless period is from 8 to 14 kg/ind. and 16 kg/ind. (dry weight) during the winter period. Food digestibility changes from 49 to 54% per year; the mean digestibility is 52%. The daily metabolic energy intake during the snowy period of the year (130.7 MJ/ind.) is almost twofold higher than in spring (67.4 MJ/ind.). In all the seasons, it exceeds the requirements for energy. The free-living horses of Vodnyi Island have parameters of digestibility and consumption of forage similar to other horses.