Evaluation of Roughage Quality - Sensory Evaluation
For physiological reasons, horses need a qualitatively impeccable, richly structured roughage such as hay, haylage (dry silage) or straw as a main component of their ration. This applies for horses of all breeds, from leisure horses to high-performance animals.
Because horses are especially sensitive to spoilt or contaminated feedstuffs, hygienic quality is one of the most important criteria for horseforage. Roughage-based feeding which is adapted to the needs of the animal and of impeccable quality is crucial for equine health maintenance and occupation, and hence for the well-being of the horse.
A sensorial test (organoleptic test) can be used to evaluate the hygienic quality of a feed sample. Here, odour (nose), appearance and contamination (eyes) and the structure (touching with hands) of the feed is evaluated. Feeds receiving a ‘poor’ rating must not be fed. The sensorial test says nothing about the nutritional value of the feed. The nutritional value can be estimated or looked up as tabular values on the basis of the developmental stage and botanical composition of the feed.