For those new to the term Broodmare we refer to a mare whose sole purpose is to breed premium quality foals. This doesn’t mean that the mare didn’t have a career prior to becoming a broodmare, it’s just a term that helps define their new career.Nutrition for broodmares is normally isolated into different cycles or phases. Conception, early gestation, mid to late gestation and lactation. A mares gestational period is around 11 months and then they are required to support their foal nutritionally for the first 6 months of their lives.Making nutrition a priority throughout the mares life will assist her reproduction cycle and balance, maximising her chances of falling pregnant at the start of the season. This will reduce cycle issues when it’s time to mate them to a stallion of your choice.
Nutrition through Conception and Early Gestation.
Your broodmare needs to be in peak physical condition in order to have her conceive at the start of the breeding season. Too thin and she will inevitably have issues and conceive later than desired. Overweight and underweight mares will need to have their forage, supplements and exercise schedule adjusted to move them into peak physical condition prior to the breeding season. This can be a long term project when you look at pre conception period and gestational period as a total period of months.To optimise the nutritional requirements through the conception phase feed your Broodmare a quality forage and supplement that is high in vitamins and minerals. This diet will provide all the energy, protein, minerals and vitamins your mare needs to get this pregnancy off to the best start. A misconception is that your mare needs to have larger quantities of forage during this period. This will lead to her becoming overweight and will not necessarily assist the development of the foal.
Mid to Late Gestation
Even though it’s still vital to keep your broodmare on a high quality diet, she will sometimes bedisinclined to increase her portions as the foal grows and digestive area is restricted. This is where itis vital that whatever she consumes be of exceptional quality to minimise any nutritionaldeficiencies. Many owners reduce the amount of forage and hay and replace it with a smalleramount of fortified grain as well as the additional supplements that contain vitamins and minerals.This not only allows the trace elements to enrich the foals liver and assist supporting their growthand development in the first few months but also provides your broodmare with the right amount ofproteins and energy to get her through the last of the pregnancy and delivery.
Lactation and Recovery
Once your foal has been delivered it is vital that your mare has a diet high in protein, calcium, energy and phosphorous. This will not only sustain her throughout the lactation period but also assist in the recovery of her reproduction system so that she is in peak condition for her next foal. Many make the mistake of not adjusting her feed intake when she is lactating, this can cause your broodmare to become underweight and slow down her recovery.If you are unsure of quantities required and it does differ a little horse to horse then consult eitheran equine nutritionist or your veterinarian. They can help you build and then modify a quality eating plan. Buy the best feed that you can afford. Deworming your broodmare is an important part of the nutritional plan also.
The well being of your horses is worth the investment.