Feeding Pregnant Mares
Nutrition of the pregnant mare has a huge impact on the subsequent foal. Ensuring that the mare maintains adequate body condition is important (without becoming overweight) as this ensures she has sufficient body condition to take on the energy demands of lactation once she has foaled. If the mare is to be re-bred, maintaining adequate body condition will improve the likelihood of early conception.
The last trimester of the mare’s pregnancy is a critical time to provide her with the appropriate intakes of key trace minerals including Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Manganese. If this is done, it will assist in the development of a sound skeleton in the subsequent foal and the future athlete.
The way in which these key nutrients will be provided will depend on the individual mare (her metabolic rate) and pasture availability. Mares which are lighter and require hard feed to maintain condition will receive adequate nutrient intake in their last trimester if fed a good quality premixed feed such as Dunstan Breed and Grow at a minimum of 2.5kg daily (based on a 500kg bodyweight). Dunstan Breed and Grow is a low GI, high-fibre, low-starch complete feed which includes organic minerals, and contains natural vitamin E. It is specifically formulated for pregnant and lactating mares and young stock.
However, inadequate supplementation will arise if a full feed is not being fed at the recommended intake.
In the situation where mares are holding sufficient body condition and do not require the recommended intake of the full feed, a more concentrated source of supplementary feed is appropriate – a feed that provides more nutrients per kg. Dunstan Multi-Ultra can be used in this situation. Dunstan Multi-Ultra is a concentrated vitamin and mineral pellet which will provide a similar contribution of nutrients to the ration by feeding 500grams daily, as a full feed will when fed at 2.5kg daily. Feeding 500grams of Dunstan Multi-Ultra to last trimester mares will provide adequate intake of key nutrients required by the unborn foal. Dunstan Multi-Ultra can also be used to ‘top-up’ the vitamin and mineral contribution if feeding a full feed but below the recommended intake.
Once mares have foaled, their energy requirements increase to meet the demands of lactation. Dunstan Breed and Grow is still the most suitable supplementary feed after foaling, however, intakes will need to be increased for ‘lighter’ mares.
Mares that really struggle with the condition during lactation may benefit from the addition of a high-fat supplement such as Dunstan Muscle ‘n Shine or Dunstan Trifecta Oil.
Dunstan Breed and Grow is also the ideal first-feed for the foal to share with the mare. As Dunstan Breed and Grow is a low GI formulation, calories are provided by fibre sources rather than starch-laden grains. Therefore it is a safer and more digestible feed for the young horse. In addition, the low GI nature of Dunstan Breed and Grow helps to minimise the negative impact that insulin can have on the development of joints and cartilage - all important for a growing a sound skeleton.
The article was written by Dunstan's nutritionist, Gretel Webber Assoc.Dip.App.Sc, BBus, MSc Equine