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Nutritional Requirements for a Pregnant Mare
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Nutritional Requirements for a Pregnant Mare

All safety precautions are taken during the studding process for the mare. Separate stables are utilized to prevent accidents at the facility. Conception is recorded via scan by the veterinarian 13 days from the first covering. Repeat scans are taken at 21 days, and again at 28 days to assure a single foal and the positive progression of the pregnancy. Proper nutritional requirements will help protect the investment and assure the health of the mare and unborn foal.

The mare will carry the foal for 11 months. The mare must take in an adequate amount of calories, proteins and minerals to meet her needs along with the needs of the unborn foal. Deficient nutritional intake during pregnancy may result in long term health care problems for the mare. Less than adequate nutritional needs may result in the burning of fat stores and even depleting bone, muscle and tissue. This may also affect the mare’s milk production after the foal is born.

The mare’s nutritional requirements will drastically increase during the last trimester, as the foal undergoes a growth spurt. However, the mare may experience a decrease in appetite at the same time due to the foal taking up so much internal space. Grass hay with very little grain in small meals throughout the day is preferred for adequate digestion. At approximately six months into the pregnancy, add a half pound of additional feed to the mare’s diet and a second half pound of feed at nine months.

Inquire with a veterinarian for common hay nutritional deficiencies in a particular area. Average quality hay will contain about 7% protein. A supplement should be provided to assure that a balanced diet is maintained. Generally, a balanced mineral supplement should supply 4% calcium, 250 ppm copper, 3% phosphorus, 30% protein and a sufficient supply of zinc. A supplement with too much kelp may cause iodine toxicity. Provide access to a mineral block during pregnancy and plenty of water.

Vitamin E and selenium are vital to the mare and the unborn foal. Although the unborn foal requires only small amounts of selenium, the soil in the northeastern United States is nearly void of the mineral. Selenium works in conjunction with vitamin E for development of the musculoskeletal system. Without sufficient vitamin E and selenium, the foal is in danger of white muscle disease.


*Photo courtesy of Austria 01113 Mares and Foals by Dennis Jarvis at Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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