Optimizing Nutrition and Management for Broodmares in Late Gestation

Many broodmares are currently in the latter stages of gestation, a crucial period for foal development within the mare’s uterus. Recognizing this significance, the Nutrient Requirements of Horses, Sixth Edition, identified the sixth month of gestation as the point at which the mare’s nutrient needs begin to increase, earlier than previously understood. During the final trimester, foals may gain an average of one pound per day.

Effective management of pregnant mares entails several key aspects:

  • Maintaining an appropriate body condition score, ideally around 6 at foaling, ensures adequate energy reserves for early lactation and facilitates maintaining condition for subsequent breeding.
  • Ensuring sufficient intake of protein and essential amino acids like lysine, methionine, and threonine is crucial for placental and fetal development.
  • Providing adequate mineral and trace mineral intake, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium, supports both the foal’s development and its own trace mineral reserves, vital for immune function.

  • Implementing a vaccination and deworming program, in collaboration with a veterinarian, safeguards the mare and enables the transmission of maternal antibodies to the foal via colostrum, protecting it until it can develop its own immunity.
  • While good-quality pasture or forage may suffice for energy needs in late gestation, it may lack the necessary amino acids and minerals for optimal fetal development. Supplementing with a well-designed ration balancer product from the fifth to the eleventh month of gestation can bridge these nutritional gaps. Introducing a suitable feed for broodmares and foals prior to foaling prevents sudden dietary changes and facilitates post-foaling adjustments to meet increased energy and nutrient demands for lactation and early foal feeding.

Access to fresh, clean water and free-choice salt is essential at all times. Proper feeding practices not only mitigate developmental risks for the foal but also support the mare’s timely rebreeding for those aiming to produce another foal in the subsequent year.

By Staff writer