Nutritional Considerations for the Lactating Broodmares
Posted: March 5, 2010
Body Condition and Energy Needs
Energy requirements of the broodmare will nearly double following foaling. It is usual for a 1,200-pound mare to need 12 to 15 pounds of an average energy density grain mix in addition to 10 to 12 pounds of a good quality hay to meet her energy needs. Careful management is necessary in this class of mares because individual requirements will vary greatly. A nursing foal can quickly lower the condition status of the mare, and wet mares in a thin body condition may take longer to rebreed and have lower pregnancy rates than mares in a moderate to fleshy condition. Also, the mare may be moved to a new location for breeding soon after foaling, which can create a loss in condition due to stress. It is extremely difficult to increase condition in lactating mares because the amount of feed that would be necessary can lead to higher incidence of founder and colic. As such, it is important that the mare is adequately conditioned before foaling.
Protein requirements are also important during lactation because of the large amounts of protein leaving the mare in the milk. Mares not receiving adequate protein have decreased milk production, resulting in lowered foal growth. Requirements double in heavily lactating mares, and an increased percent protein ration is usually necessary. Most hay-grain combinations dictate that the grain mix is at least 14 percent crude protein. Grain mixes with 10 to 12 percent crude protein should be fed with a hay high in crude protein, so many producers feed a high quality alfalfa with this type of grain mix.
Calcium and Phosphorus Needs
Calcium and phosphorus needs will also double in the lactating mare as compared with her requirements for maintenance. The calcium and phosphorus density of the grain ration will depend on the amount of grain and hay that is fed. The mineral density of most rations should be increased to levels of 0.6 percent calcium and 0.4 percent phosphorus to meet the added requirement. Mineral needs can be met when increasing the amount of grain mix fed for energy needs. If grain and hay sources are marginal in their mineral densities, it is advisable to add a mineral premix to rations for this class of mare. Mineral premixes, like vitamin premixes, should be added only at recommended levels.
Most classes of horses will meet their vitamin needs if they are fed high quality grains and hays. Vitamin requirements increase in lactation to the point that it is a good practice to add a vitamin source to grain mixes. Feed suppliers and feed tags should provide information on whether grain mixes have been fortified with vitamins during the feed manufacturing process. If not, it is recommended to add a vitamin supplement on-site to the grain mixes for lactating mares. For more information: http://www.extension.org/pages/Nutritional_Considerations_for_Broodmare
Breeding TIPS: To increase your breeding success, follow these tips:
- Evaluate mare and stallion fertility before the breeding season begins.
- Tease mares every other day to detect estrus/heat.
- Time breeding for 36 hours or less prior to ovulation.
- Keep detailed breeding records for both the mare and the stallion.
- Ensure broodmares are kept in a body condition score of at least 5 (moderate)
Resource for this article is the HorseQuest.com eXtension, Horse section