Feeding Broodmares

Horse representing feeding broodmares

During a mare’s pregnancy, significant changes occur that cause her nutritional needs to increase substantially. While bred mares can be fed a quality maintenance diet during the first half of their pregnancy, this approach is insufficient in the latter stages. Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting the mare’s body condition, lactation, and successful rebreeding. This article provides guidelines for feeding broodmares to meet their specific nutritional requirements during pregnancy and lactation.

Nutritional Considerations During Pregnancy

Ensuring Adequate Energy Reserves

To prevent a drastic drop in body condition after foaling, it is essential for the mare to carry extra fat stores. Since it is challenging to increase feed intake dramatically after foaling, maintaining a body condition score of 6 when the mare foals is recommended. This ensures sufficient energy reserves for early lactation and maintaining condition for re-breeding. Mares in significant negative energy balance are less likely to rebreed easily and carry the next pregnancy successfully.

Importance of Balanced Nutrition

While good quality pasture or forage may provide sufficient energy during late gestation, they may lack essential amino acids and minerals. To address this, consider using a ration balancer product or a feed specifically designed for pregnant mares. From month 5 to about month 10 or 11 of gestation, these products can provide the necessary nutrients that may be lacking in the forage.

Preparing for Lactation

It is advisable to introduce a feed designed for broodmares and foals before foaling to allow the mare to adjust to the feed well in advance. Introducing a new feed immediately before foaling, when the mare is under significant stress, should be avoided. After foaling, the feed can be increased to provide the additional energy and nutrients required for lactation. This feed will also contribute to the foal’s nutrition as it starts to nibble on feed.

Additional Considerations: Water, Salt, and Vaccinations

Ensure fresh, clean water and free choice salt are available to the broodmare at all times. Adequate hydration is essential, especially during lactation when a mare’s water consumption can exceed 50-100% of that of a maintenance horse. It is also important to vaccinate the mare properly before foaling to ensure her colostrum, the rich first milk, contains antibodies to protect the foal. Proper nutrition can also support the mare’s immune response to vaccinations.

Lactation and Postpartum Nutrition: Increased Energy Needs and Subsequent Adjustments

During lactation, a mare’s energy needs can easily double compared to her maintenance requirements. Additionally, water consumption remains high while she produces milk for her offspring. As the mare’s milk production decreases around 13-24 weeks after giving birth, the diet can be adjusted slightly, gradually returning to the nutritional needs of a normal maintenance horse.

Properly feeding broodmares is crucial to minimize the risk of developmental problems for the foal and ensure the mare can rebreed successfully. By meeting their specific nutritional needs during pregnancy and lactation, horse owners can support the overall health and well-being of both the mare and the foal, setting the stage for future reproductive success.

At Nutrena, we believe proper nutrition plays the biggest role for a lifetime of health and happiness for every horse. That’s why Nutrena horse feeds are specifically formulated for every life stage and activity level. 

Learn more about our feeds formulated specifically for broodmares to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition  to maintain their weight and health at feeding time, every time.

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5 Replies to “Feeding Broodmares”

  1. I can understand I think the reason for the Aciopholos and last ingredients given on tag .What would they be for in the mare? May be for stress Ulcer?

  2. Can I grass a new a broodmare on a renovated pasture with 6 inch oats with rye grass, blue grass new seeding?

    1. Hello Wayne, Rye grass and oats tend to be higher in non-structural carbohydrates which are great for grazing cattle, but may be a challenge for your mare if she has any metabolic challenges such as insulin resistance.

      If not, once the height has reached 8″, slow introduction to the pasture is acceptable. Feed her normal hay and feed and then simply start with just 15 minutes a day and very gradually working the minutes up that she is turned out on the pasture. You might also consider the use of a grazing muzzle to slow her consumption. Slow and steady introduction over a few weeks is best so as not to cause colic or laminitis.

      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  3. Hello,
    I recently bought a retired race horse who has also been a broodmare for the last four years. It’s has been years since I have owned a horse an I have gotten out of the swing of things so I just wanted some opinions on the grain I give her. She is on pasture an this winter will be moved an fed grass hay, I currently grain her in the morning (half scoop of crimped oats) to bring her back up from being a broodmare an work her. So far she is looking amazing. What I want opinions on is what kind of oats would be bets for her? Whole, rolled, or crimped? I don’t want anything too high in protein considering she is already hot headed being a retired race horse, an I don’t want to make her fat. I just want to bring her up an get her back in shape. Thank you

    1. Thank you for your interesting question about a retired race mare that has been a broodmare for the last 4 years. If her teeth are good, whole oats is OK. If she has any dental issues, either rolled or crimped oats require less chewing to crush the hulls. You may also want to consider using a ration balancer product designed for grass hay to provide amino acids, minerals and vitamins that will not be in the hay or oats. This will help with muscle mass/Topline recovery as well. Make certain she has salt available free choice as well as clean water.
      Best wishes,
      Roy J.

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