Feeding tips from St. Hippolyt
The pregnancy of mares lasts approximately 11 months. To guarantee the optimal supply of the broodmare and the growing foetus, a targeted supplementation is recommended from the ninth month of pregnancy, the latest.
The nutrient requirements of the mare depend on the stage of pregnancy. The daily energy, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements, for example, increase with advancing pregnancy. In the last three months before the birth of the foal, feeding requirements are particularly demanding as this is the period the foetus grows the most.
It is with pride that every breeder watches the first awkward steps their foal takes on its long legs. The first visit to the mare’s udder is vital and supplies the foal not only with energy and minerals, but also with essential antibodies, which are contained in the first milk, the so-called colostrum. Since a newborn foal does not have its own reserves and depends on the dam’s milk to be provided with vitamin A and E, these vitamins need to be supplied to the mare through feeding in sufficient quantities.
The milk production of mares of medium-sized breeds is around 13-18 kg per day, while the peak of daily milk production is to be expected for the second month of lactation. The requirements of the dam during lactation are similar to those during pregnancy. A lack of essential amino acids compromises both the protein content and the milk production of the broodmare.
In addition, the mineral supply must be guaranteed as well. Particularly with soils low in minerals it is important to ensure that the dam is supplied with calcium, phosphorus, copper, selenium and zinc. To guarantee the well-being of foal and dam, great attention should be given not only to feeding but also to the management of the horses. There is nothing more wonderful for them but to enjoy the summer on extensive grassland. So let your horses have an airing!
In the first phase of their life, foals are growing extremely quickly, doubling their birth weight within 35-45 days. The growing and maturation phases of foals require a particularly careful feeding regime. Accurate balancing of the various feed components can counteract common problems of the joints, tendons and bones and significantly supports the development of the immune system and muscles as well as a healthy growth.
Beware of salt licks, they should not be accessible for foals as excessive intake can result in severe diarrhoea. Keeping all these factors in mind will pave the way for feeding and rearing healthy foals.