How do I ensure my broodmare gets everything she needs?
Answer by the Equerry Horse Feeds Nutrition Team
Broodmare nutrition can be broken down into several different stages: conception, early, mid and late gestation, and lactation. Feeding your broodmare a correctly balanced diet is essential for breeding success as it is directly linked to maximizing conception rates, aiding foetal growth and the production of quality colostrum and milk.
It is proven that overweight or underweight mares have lower conception rates than those in ideal condition before going to be covered. Your mare should be well-furnished; you should be able to just feel her ribs but not see them. She should not have any fat pads on her neck or body. A good-doer will usually only require a low-calorie feed such as Equerry High Fibre Cubes. However, should your mare be lacking condition prior to covering, Equerry Stud & Yearling Cubes or Stud & Youngstock Mix are advised.
Early Gestation (0-4 months)
We now know that the mare’s micronutrient requirements begin to increase from Day 1 at conception. The foal’s long term health and development can be majorly influenced by these vital vitamins and minerals from an early stage. Certain micronutrients, such as copper and zinc, must be provided by the hard feed as the required levels will not be provided by good quality grazing alone.
Mid Gestation (5-8 months)
Your mare will now start to become noticeably rounder! Her micronutrient requirement will continue to steadily increase, along with needing higher levels of calories and protein. This is because the nutritional value of her grazing will begin to decline so she will depend more on her hard feed to supply her with these essential nutrients. To provide your mare with additional calories and protein, she will need a specifically formulated stud feed such as Equerry Stud & Yearling Cubes or Stud & Youngstock Mix.
Late Gestation (9-11 months)
During the last three months of gestation, the foetus develops rapidly – gaining 65% of its birth weight and over 40% of its skeletal structure! The diet will need to provide your mare with 15-30% more calories. Whilst in the womb, the foetus starts to build up stores of certain trace minerals, such as copper, in their liver. The foal depends on these stores during the first few months of life for correct cartilage and limb development. Therefore, the mare’s calorie, protein, calcium, phosphorous and copper requirements significantly increase. She will become more dependent on her hard-feed to meet these demands as there is less space available in her stomach for large amounts of forage due to the rapid growth of the foetus taking up a greater space in the abdominal cavity. To meet these requirements, your mare will need a higher rate of Equerry Stud & Youngstock Cubes or Stud & Yearling Mix.
In peak lactation, a 500kg broodmare will produce 15-20 litres of milk a day. You should continue to feed Equerry Stud & Youngstock Cubes or Stud & Yearling Mix to maintain condition during lactation. This will ensure your broodmare receives enough calories required to improve conception rates if re-breeding and support colostrum quality. Newborn foals depend on the antibodies (which are essential to protect from infectious bacteria and viruses) that they receive from the mare’s colostrum as they have very low levels themselves.
Equerry Stud & Youngstock Cubes and Stud & Yearling Mix are both complete feeds and when fed at the recommended rate will provide your broodmare with the correct levels of vitamins, minerals and trace-elements.As a guide, a broodmare weighing 500kg would need 3.5-5kg daily. This should be divided into at least 3 small meals, fed at least 4 hours apart.