Breeding Season: Get your mare’s nutrition right from the start
Spring has sprung, which means breeding season is almost here. If you’re planning to put your mare in foal this season now is the time to get her nutrition right to ensure she grows a strong, healthy foal. Wondering what’s the best feeding practice and diet plan for your mare? Here are our top tips.
Don’t over feed your mare
One common mistake owners make is to increase their mare’s calories during the early stages of the horse’s pregnancy. This is unnecessary for most horses and may lead to your mare becoming overweight and add unwanted risks of complications to her pregnancy.
From conception through to birth, the foetus is growing. However, foetal growth does not happen at a consistent rate. Foetal growth is quite slow during the first seven months of pregnancy and then very rapid during the final trimester. During early and mid-pregnancy, the developing foetus is very small, less than two per cent of birth weight, which represents less than two per cent of the mare’s body weight. Although the foetus needs the correct vitamins and minerals to grow, if your mare is in good condition, she does not necessarily need to have her feed significantly altered or increased in the early stages of the pregnancy.
If your mare is holding too much weight leading up to breeding season you may need to consider decreasing the volume of hard feed given, however when doing this you must be mindful to ensure she is still reaching her daily vitamin and mineral requirements – this is where a balancer pellet could be the best choice for your mare.
Don’t under feed your mare
Under feeding your horse or having a mare who is too light on increases the risk of the mare experiencing issues with fertility, colostrum quality and milk production. An underweight mare will also not be able to adequately give the foetus all the vitamins and minerals they need to healthily grow and develop. Addressing your mare’s nutrition before she is put in foal is best practice. You do not want to leave this until too late and have a foal born with defects or issues that could have been prevented through feeding.
Make sure you meet the vitamin and mineral requirements
Meeting the mineral and vitamin requirements of pregnant mares during early and late pregnancy is crucial to the development of a healthy foal. It helps prevent deficiencies, that can cause permanent issues or even death of the foal. Feeding the required vitamins and minerals will also help mum and bub maintain a strong immune system and aid the long-term health of your mare for future breeding.
Although a pregnant mares can often be maintained on good quality pasture with little additional feeding, without supplementation of minerals, a pasture‐only diet will likely have deficiencies of copper and zinc and depending on your location and types of pasture, there may also be, phosphorous, magnesium, iodine, and selenium deficiencies.
Our top feeds for breeding mares and foals
For the good doer mare - Hygain Balanced
Hygain Balanced is a pelleted all-round, low dose balancer concentrate that provides high levels of vitamin e and selenium for cell health, biotin for hoof and coat health, chelated minerals, quality protein and essential amino acids for muscle development. Mares in optimal body condition (good doers) typically do well on good quality forage and a concentrated vitamin and mineral pellet, such as Hygain Balanced.
The nutrient requirements of the mare during early pregnancy are very similar to the nutrient requirements of a non-pregnant mare. An all forage (hay or pasture) diet will provide most mares with adequate levels of both energy (calories) and protein but is likely deficient in several key minerals. Feeding Balanced during early and mid pregnancy along with good quality forage will ensure the adequate levels of micro and macro minerals along with critical vitamins and being met in the diet.
For the mare that needs conditioning - Pryde’s BioMare Cubes
BioMare Cubes is one of the leading feeds for breeding mares and young horses. It’s a great choice for mares who are lacking in condition prior to and during their pregnancy. With a set recipe you are guaranteed the same premium quality proteins, which promote muscle growth and milk production, are in every batch.
BioMare Cubes are fully extruded (cooked) to allow horses to digest nutrients and maintain healthy hindgut function. BioMare Cubes are scientifically balanced to support fertility and milk production in broodmares plus growth and sound development in weanlings, yearlings and 2 year olds.
The complete feed for mare and foal - Mitavite Breeda
Breeda is scientifically formulated, complete, nutrient rich steam extruded feed. Breeda supports healthy foetal growth and nourishes mares throughout the breeding cycle. It’s formulated to fill nutrient gaps created by less than optimal pasture and to support healthy growth.
Optimal Amino Acid profile promotes the development of lean muscle, strong tendons, and smooth, flat bone. Omega Fatty Acids to support the development of nervous system tissue and strengthen immune system. Breeda includes Mitavite’s special Bonafide®, featuring Quinaquanone®, a Bioavailable form of Vitamin K1 & K2, proven in trials to increase bone density. Prebiotic to promote growth of healthy gut flora. With no added soy or molasses.