Feeding a Pregnant Mare: Brands and What to do
by Sue Messenger
Tuesday 09 August 2011
Most of the research into the needs of the pregnant mare has been relatively recent and has come from the racing industry, where, because recipient mares are not allowed, infertility or abortion is costly occurrences.
The first thing to consider is the condition and weight of the mare, both before and after conception. Overweight mares will conceive less easily and may have difficult births. If you are familiar with the body condition scoring system which rates a horse from 1 -9, you should be aiming for your mare to be around 5 -6, no higher (Some American research recommends as low as 3). What you are looking for in the first 8 months of her pregnancy is to retain her in working rather than ¨show¨ condition.
During these first 8 months, if you have access to good grazing, then supplementing with a balancer and with good Lucerne hay or quality haylage if the grass starts to run out, will be all she needs.
Light exercise can continue whilst it is comfortable for her and indeed if the grazing area is small or she spends a lot of time in a stable then at the least you should be walking her in hand.
If your mare is overweight when you put her in foal, do not put her on a diet for the first 90 days as research again suggests this may increase the risk of abortion. After that you can aim to reduce her weight very gradually. At all times avoid suddenly changing feed regimes.
During the last 3 months the foal doubles in size so increased feed will be needed, again gradually. Loss of condition on the mare does not affect the foal but it will affect the production of colostrum, milk production and the chances of getting her back in foal again quickly.
There are a number of excellent specialist horse feeds available for the pregnant mare, be careful, some are specifically for thoroughbred mares and not suitable for ponies or less breedy horses.
Baileys Stud Balancer is low calorie, low starch for pregnant and lactating mares and also suitable for young stock. It is especially suited for good doers so that you can ensure the nutrients without increasing weight. Spillars Stud cubes are highly palatable, support digestive health and have high levels of vitamin E to aid transfer of immunity through the colostrum.
Dodson and Horrell do a very extensive stud diet aimed towards thoroughbreds, offering mixes, cubes and balancer and Saracens produce a product called Mare Care for late pregnancy and lactation. All the manufacturers offer extensive advice free of charge so you should talk to as many of them as you can, as well as your vet and the stud where you send your mare for covering, before starting to use a feed.
How to -Feeding 12.08.2011
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