Equerry Horsefeed

Feeding the Broodmare

My thoroughbred mare is in foal for the spring and I want to make sure she is getting everything required for both her and the youngster. She is out in the field in the day, in at night and has ad lib forage but I want to start giving her a hard feed – can you suggest a feed regime for her.

Breeding from your mare is always extremely exciting. You’ll undoubtedly want to do all you can to make sure that she remains in peak health throughout her pregnancy and that, all being well, gives birth to a strong, healthy foal this spring.

During the next few months your mare will get noticeable bigger. This is hardly surprising given that during the last trimester of pregnancy the equine foetus develops rapidly – gaining 65% of its birth weight and over 40% of its skeletal structure! To support this rapid foetal growth your mare’s nutrient requirements will increase significantly.

During the final three months of your mare’s pregnancy her diet will need to provide her with 15-30% more calories. However, at the same time her capacity for feed, especially forage, will be reduced. This is because her digestive system will be compressed as the growing foetus begins to occupy a larger part of her abdominal cavity. As a result your mare will be more reliant on her hard-feed to provide her with the extra calories she needs during the latter stages of pregnancy.

Another vital nutrient your mare needs in increasing amounts is protein. Lack of quality protein in may result in your mare losing condition and could increase the risk of her giving birth to a small, weak foal. To provide your mare with additional calories and protein in late pregnancy she will need a specifically formulated stud feed such as Equerry Stud & Yearling Mix or Stud & Youngstock Cubes.

Your mare’s requirements for minerals also increase significantly during late pregnancy. Ensuring that your mare receives optimal levels of minerals is very important because whilst in the womb the foetus begins to build up stores of certain trace minerals (e.g. copper). The foal relies on these stores during the first few months of life and lack of them may be at increased risk of developmental orthopaedic disorders. As forage alone will not provide your mare with optimal levels of several important trace minerals these must be provided in the hard-feed.

Vitamins are also very important during in late pregnancy. For example, research has shown that providing optimal levels of vitamin E to mares in the last trimester of pregnancy can help to improve the levels of antibodies in the colostrum. When your foal is born he/ she will have very low levels of antibodies in their blood and will rely on the antibodies they receive from your mare’s first milk, or colostrum, to provide protection against infectious bacteria and viruses.

Equerry Stud & Yearling Mix and Stud & Youngstock Cubes have been specifically formulated for breeding stock. They will provide your mare with the high levels of protein (15%) and calories (12.5 MJ/DE) needed to support foetal growth during late pregnancy. Plus, they are fully balanced with all the essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, copper, zinc and manganese. As a guide a Thoroughbred mare would need 3.5-5kg Equerry Stud & Yearling Mix or Stud & Youngstock Cubes daily. This should be divided into at least 2 small meals, fed at least 4 hours apart.

For more information on feeding breeding stock contact the Equerry Nutrition Team on 01845 565640.