From Here to Maternity

Dengie senior nutritionist Katie Williams, MSc (Dist), provides some handy advice to help keep your mare in blooming good health and in the best shape possible during her pregnancy.

A mare’s energy requirements will increase by about 20 per cent during the final trimester of her pregnancy. At this time, 60 per cent of foetal growth will occur and a change in feeding regime might be called for.

1. Keep an eye on weight
Monitor your mare to ensure she becomes neither over nor underweight. Foal growth in the last trimester will cause the mother-to-be to gain weight. Throughout pregnancy, her weight will tend to increase by 15 per cent. A 500kg horse, for example, would increase by up to 75kg.

2. Provide a balanced diet
During the third trimester the foetus accumulates mineral stores to help the foal grow after birth. It is essential therefore, that the mare is given a balanced diet with the correct levels of vitamins and minerals to meet energy requirements.
Stud feeds – when fed at the recommended quantities – provide a balanced diet for breeding stock. When giving less than suggested, it is important to top up the mare’s diet with extra vitamins and minerals. Feeding a broad-spectrum supplement or a balancer is the perfect way.

3. Does your mare need a stud mix/cube?
Good doers are often fed less than recommended amounts of stud mixes because they hold their weight too well. Unfortunately, these mares can often miss out on important  vitamins and minerals such as copper, which can be harmful to the growth and development of their foals. If your mare’s a good doer who holds weight easily, a stud mix or cube might not be the best way to provide a nutritionally balanced ration. The Dengie Alfa-A range includes Alfa-A Original, which when fed together with a broad-spectrum supplement or a balancer is a highly effective alternative. All Dengie fibre feeds are excellent for breeding and youngstock. They are made with alfalfa, which is a highly digestible source of fibre and good-quality protein. This leafy, green crop is also rich in naturally occurring vitamins and minerals such as calcium.

4. Little and often
As the growing unborn foal continues to take up more space it will cause the mare’s appetite to reduce. As the third trimester progresses, you will notice that the mother-to-be might become more fussy than usual. Feeding little and often is a great way to make sure that your mare is not ‘over-faced’ by large amounts of feed. It will also help to keep her digestive system healthy and in good working order.

5. Give only the best

When your mare is being fussy with her feed, make sure that you give her the best forage possible – poor-quality hay or haylage simply won’t cut it. If good-quality supplies are proving difficult to source, don’t worry – Dengie Hi-Fi Senior makes an ideal hay replacer for brood mares. This feed is made from high-temperature-dried grass, alfalfa and a light molasses coating.

6. Reap the rewards of fibre

Digestive supplements that contain ingredients like yeast and prebiotics have been shown to help promote efficient fibre digestion to get the most out of fibre and therefore reduce the reliance on cereal-based feeds.

7. Get bullies licked
Group feeding means that it is impossible to make sure that everyone gets their fair share of any feed that is offered. Licks suitable for use in a field are oneway for horses to top up on nutrients lacking in pasture or for mares at the bottom of the herd hierarchy who miss out on their allocated feed.

For friendly advice on feeding your brood mare, call the Dengie Feedline on 01621 841188 or chat live with a nutritionist on our website.