Preserved forages for horses in a climate change context: expected problems and adaptation measures

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Daniela Soares (Portugal) 1; Maria João Fradinho (Portugal) 2; João Rolim (Portugal) 3; Teresa Afonso Paço (Portugal) 3

1 - Instituto Superior de Agronomia [ISA], Universidade de Lisboa [ULisboa]; 2 - Centro de Investigação Interdisciplinar em Sanidade Animal, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade de Lisboa; 3 - Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food [LEAF], Instituto Superior de Agronomia [ISA], Universidade de Lisboa [ULisboa]

This study aims to characterize preserved forage production for horses in a climate change context, in Portugal. The horse is an herbivore adapted to eat fiber rich diets. However, some horses are kept in the stable most of the day and do not have free access to pastures. Thus, preserved forages need to be daily included in their feeding regime. Forages are also the main feed resource for breeding mares and, if they have an adequate nutritive value, they can cover the overall requirements of these animals.

A large region of Portugal is under Mediterranean conditions, characterized by rainy winters and hot and dry summers. As a result, the production of fresh rainfed pasture throughout the year, suffers oscillations associated with the precipitation distribution and temperature variation and pasture production ceases during summer. For this reason, preserved forages are quite important as a feed resource in equine production systems. Projected climate changes for this region point to temperature increase, precipitation decrease especially during spring and higher risk for the occurrence of extreme events as droughts. Forage production for equines in such a context was assessed using future climate scenarios for the 2071-2100 period and adaptation measures are proposed, including for example, the use of drought adapted plant species or varieties, the rethinking of harvesting plan and dates, the use of rescue irrigation, or the reorganization of the production system.