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Feeding The Broodmare

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A healthy broodmare helps to produce a healthy foal. Understanding how to provide the broodmare with the appropriate nutrients it needs is critical for the development of a growing foal as well as keeping the mare herself in a healthy condition. From buying specially formulated horse food to suit the nutritional demands of the pregnancy to ensuring that the broodmare maintains a healthy weight, prepare for the process in the best way possible.

Maintaining a consistent weight

Research has shown both being overweight and underweight can have a negative impact on producing a healthy foal. Maintaining a healthy body condition is essential; ribs should not be visible but they should be easy to feel if you apply light pressure to the centre of the ribcage. The simplest way to maintain weight is providing continuous access to forage and measuring out the minimal amount of grain required to sustain this level.

An overweight broodmare can increase the likelihood of complications including a high blood pressure, diabetes and susceptibility to infections. Horse owners can sometimes be under the misconception that a larger amount of food is required as the mare is ‘eating for two’ whereas in fact, only a 3% increase is required throughout the last trimester to provide the energy required. 

On the contrary, there is evidence displaying that an underweight broodmare can also lead to problems. Being underweight makes them less likely to conceive and makes them more prone to a miscarriage during the first trimester due to the lack of nutrients in the body.

Getting the vitamins and minerals needed

In addition to the forage and grains, consuming the necessary nutrients is essential for the development of the foetus. Fortified grain mix is a convenient way to ensure that the appropriate vitamins and minerals are being given without providing excess levels of protein and energy where is it not required during the early stages. 

If the broodmare is deficient in the vitamins and minerals it needs, this should be clearly visible going off appearance alone. If there are any signs of a lack of nutrients, action needs to be taken immediately to prevent the foal from being born susceptible to a variety of health issues.

Adjusting the diet during lactation

Once the foal has been born, the broodmares milk is the main source of nutrients for the foal which in turn changes the requirements of the mare herself. During the last trimester, the broodmare is lactating and producing milk rich in energy, proteins, calcium and vitamins which need to be replenished to keep the mare healthy. If adequate nutrition is not provided during this period, it can be problematic and lead to the body sourcing the nutrients from the mare’s reserves and have a detrimental impact on its condition. 

Continuing to chew on forage and grains will not provide enough of the desired vitamins and minerals and a supplementation will be the most straightforward solution. Adding specially formulated supplements to your broodmares regular diet will help ensure both her and her foals health stays in peak condition.