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 is 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
n Calorie demands increase from 71.13Mj/day in early gestation to 87.86Mj/day by late gestation.
n Protein requirement increases by 5-8% mid-gestation over maintenance.
n Vitamin E and Selenium requirement increases over maintenance. These nutrients are often under-provided in forage only diets; studies have shown that increased vitamin E and Selenium levels result in higher antibody levels in foals, whilst also reducing the risk of afterbirth retention.
n 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.
n 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.
n At this stage, the mare’s appetite may decrease.
Key Points for Early Lactation
n The Digestible energy requirement is 132.63Mj/day, which is higher than horses in heavy work, who need 111.29Mj/day.
n Protein requirement is at its highest at 1535g, which is 41% over maintenance.
n Vitamin E requirement at maintenance is 500IU and then doubles to 1000IU during lactation.
n 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 can be added.
Poor Doers – for those who struggle to maintain their body condition score, a high calorie diet will be required. Bluegrass Stud Mix and Stud Cubes both 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, containing marine derived oil high in DHA and EPA is formulated to improve breeding performance every step of the way and support optimal body condition score of broodmares.
Contact the Bluegrass Horse Feed nutritional helpline on 028 3754 8276 to speak with one of our nutritional advisors for more information on feeding the mare during gestation and lactation or head to our website, www.bluegrasshorsefeed.com and fill out a Diet Request Sheet.
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