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During the first 7-8 months of pregnancy, your mare may be fed like any other horse, with a balanced, quality diet. But, things are changing rapidly during this last stage of pregnancy. She requires more calories, more protein, more omega 3s, and balanced vitamins and minerals, not only for the unborn foal but also to prepare for milk production.
Grass hay or pasture should be provided "round the clock;" she should never run out. If allowed to self-regulate her intake, she will likely consume 2.5 to 3.5 percent of her body weight as forage. Alfalfa hay should also be included to balance her protein needs. Alfalfa should never be fed exclusively (due to potential mineral imbalances). Strive for a 60:40 ratio of grass hay to alfalfa hay.
The fetus gains 1 pound per day during these final three gestational months. Hay alone will not meet all her caloric needs. Furthermore, hay is missing many vitamins that would be found in living, fresh grass. A quality commercially-fortified feed designed for broodmares will meet her nutritional needs as long as it is fed according to recommended amounts. Or you can mix your own feed by offering beet pulp, hay pellets, ground flaxseeds, hempseeds, or Chia seeds, and other whole foods, along with a comprehensive supplement that provides balanced levels of vitamins, and minerals such as copper, zinc, and manganese, as well as selenium and iodine.
Attention to nutrition will help the mare maintain strength and health in this final stage of pregnancy as well as be ready for the significant demands of milk production and nursing.
For permission to reprint this article, in part or in its entirety, please contact Dr. Juliet Getty directly at Gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.
Getty Equine Nutrition, LLC
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.
12608 Lignite Drive
Denton, TX 76207
Phone: (940) 272-0001
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist offering nutrition services for all life stages and integrative support for disorders and diseases. Your horse's quality of life is Dr. Getty's priority.
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