Broodmare Nutrition and a Healthy Pregnancy
A broodmare nutrition program plays a vital role in her foal’s health and development right from conception. If you’re planning to breed mares this season, we have a few general recommendations to share.
Body Condition Score
Studies show there’s a relationship between body condition and likelihood to conceive. Specifically, mares with a low BCS (1-4) are less likely to conceive. When they do, their risk for pregnancy loss increases.
Although some owners believe a high BCS will also lead to pregnancy complications, studies have shown that this is not necessarily true. However, while mares in moderately fleshy condition can have a healthy pregnancy, keeping a mare somewhere between a BCS of 5 and 7 typically makes the most economic sense.
Early Pregnancy (Months 0-4)
Research shows that for the first four months of pregnancy, a broodmare’s nutritional and energy (caloric) needs are similar to horses in “maintenance mode.” Start with high-quality forage (1.5% to 2% of her body weight per day). If she requires more calories to maintain her BCS, add in a feed like Staminoats or Quantify. Both are nutrient-dense feeds that help gestating mares maintain a healthy BCS. If she doesn’t need the calories, add a ration balancer like Stamm 30 or Kentucky Mare Cubes to ensure she gets the vitamins, minerals and other key nutrients needed.
Mid Pregnancy (Months 5-8)
During mid-pregnancy, the mare needs nutrients for herself, her fetus, and nonfetal tissues like mammary glands. As part of this, she’ll need significantly more protein. This is a good time to add in Kentucky Mare Cubes, a highly concentrated source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Late Pregnancy (Months 9-11)
As the mare enters the last part of her pregnancy, she’ll probably need a concentrated feed—even if she’s maintained a healthy BCS on forage alone up to this point. These last few months require plenty of energy, given how quickly her foal is developing. However, it can be a delicate balancing act: while you may want her to bump up her BCS a bit, given that she will likely lose weight through lactation, you don’t want her to gain too much weight, as obesity can cause foaling difficulties.
Again, we recommend a feed like Staminoats or Quantify. Both are fortified with Stamm 30, so they provide the critical nutrients a gestating mare requires. In addition, Quantify offers a significant boost in fat (from soy oil), which is excellent for horses who need additional calories.
Developing the Right Nutrition Program
Every mare will have unique nutritional needs. Therefore, it’s important to create a tailored nutrition program. If you’d like help determining exactly what’s right for your mare, please reach out to our sales and consulting team.