The new year marks the new breeding season and very soon foals will be born. During the last trimester correct nutrition becomes more crucial than ever to support optimal foetal development, milk production and to ensure a live healthy foal arrives on the ground. During the last trimester rapid development of the foetus occurs, with 80% of growth happening at this stage.
Before considering the mares’ nutrient requirements it’s important to assess her body condition score (BCS). Broodmares should ideally be 3-3.5 on the five-point scale, meaning moderate to moderately fleshy. Her breed, age, metabolism type; good doer, fair doer or bad doer and previous foaling history should all be considered when developing a suitable diet.
Another thing to initially consider is forage type and quality. Horses will need at least 1.5% of their body weight in dry matter of forage with lactating mares consuming up to 3%, ideally offer forage ad-lib. Both hay and haylage needs to be of good quality, free of mould and fescue grasses.
Key Points for Late Gestation
- Calorie demands increase from 71.13Mj/day in early gestation to 87.86Mj/day by late gestation.
- Protein increases by 5-8% mid gestation over maintenance.
- Vitamin E and Selenium requirement increases over maintenance. These nutrients are often underprovided in a forage only diets, studies have shown that increased vitamin E and Selenium levels results in higher antibody levels in foals whilst also reducing the risk of afterbirth retention.
- The foetus stores trace minerals such as copper, zinc, iron and magnesium in the liver to help with growth during the first few months as milk has inadequate levels of these. If the mare lacks these nutrients the foal may be at an increased risk of developmental orthopaedic disorders and compromised immune system.
- The inclusion of Omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) found in Marine Derived Oil is beneficial in improving milk quality and passive immunity.
- At this stage, the mare’s appetite may decrease.
Key Points for Early Lactation
- The Digestible energy requirement is 132.63Mj/day which is higher than horses in heavy work who need 111.29Mj/day.
- Protein requirement is at its highest at 1535g which is 41% over maintenance.
- Vitamin E requirement at maintenance is 500IU and then doubles to 1000IU during lactation.
- Lactating mares produce approximately 3% of their body weight in milk per day.
Good Doers – for those who do not struggle to maintain condition a low-calorie balancer such as Bluegrass Stamm 30 will provide all key nutrient requirements throughout gestation and lactation. If extra calories are needed during late gestation/early lactation the addition of Bluegrass Mare Prepare is recommended or alternatively Turmash, Equi-Jewel or Flax Plus Balancer can be added.
Poor Doers- for those who struggle to maintain an optimal body condition score, a high calorie diet will be required. Bluegrass Stud Mix and Stud Cubes contain high-quality cereals and flax oil formulated to meet the increased demands throughout pregnancy and lactation. Our new addition to this range Bluegrass Mare Prepare contains marine derived oil high in DHA & EPA which is formulated to improve breeding performance every step of the way and to support the optimal body condition score of broodmares.
Contact the Bluegrass Horse Feed nutritional helpline to speak with one of our nutritional advisors for more information on feeding the mare during gestation and lactation or head to our website and fill out a Diet Request Sheet. All of the feeds within the Bluegrass range are formulated in conjucntion with Kentucky Equine Research (KER), meaning the thinking behind our products is backed by the latest research and quality ingredients.