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How to Properly Feed Your Broodmare Proper Nutrition for Pregnancy

Any horse breeder will tell you that the health of a foal depends in large part on the health of the broodmare. Notwithstanding the foregoing, there are some surprising oversight that hobbyists make time and again.

Usually, the number one mistake is the overfeeding with respect to protein during the time of gestation. Secondly, vitamins and minerals are not fed in high enough quantities for mare and foal, and last but not least, in an effort to curtail weight gain, the amount of protein and energy is limited during the time of lactation when the broodmare needs it the most.

It surprises many a horse owner that a mare before the second trimester of gestation needs about as much feed as your average mare receives to maintain weight and activity. This changes once

the foal is born, and the mare will now need as much forage as she will eat but the least amount of grain required for keeping her in a moderate box state.

They protein and energy that your mare needs at this time will come from pasture, while fortified commercial grain mixes may be used to supply her with the vitamins and minerals needed during the second half of her pregnancy. If you do not feed such a mix, it is imperative that you supplement her vitamin and mineral intake with commercially available blends.

Failure to do so will result in the possibility of fetal malformation in the unborn foal. In the worst case scenario, the embryo may actually perish due to the mare’s poor nutrition. Generally speaking, if the embryo survives, a low concentration of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in the diet may contribute to the birth of weakened animals and an increased susceptibility to health challenges. There is no way to tell if your mare is getting enough vitamins and minerals by the way she appears on the outside, thus supplementation is of the essence! If you feed your broodmare a high quality diet, you may stop vitamin and mineral supplementation once the foal is born. Since lactation now sets in, it is the grain that you supply her with that is most important to her now. Some breeders suggest adding a commercially available yeast culture to your mare’s feed to help her to effectively digest the calcium and phosphorus that is in the feed.

This is now the time that you will need to keep a close eye on the animals’ grain intake. As lactation peaks at about seven weeks, her grain intake should be highest. Once this peak is surpassed, you will need to gradually cut down on the grain so as to avoid a build-up of excess fat in the horse.

Read the next horse breeding article on Creep Feeders.
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