With the breeding season fast approaching now is a good time to have a look at your mare’s nutrition. Today, lets focus on the dry mare. We always tend to look after the most common health concerns, vaccination, dental, worming, and vet checks and many will start preparing by putting their mares under lights, rugging them or even using things such as Equilume masks, but what about their diet?
Whether you are doing a natural cover or artificial insemination, a healthy body score condition is just as important to your chances of a successful pregnancy as all of the above. Having your mare overweight can affect their chances of pregnancy just as much as if they are too light/thin in condition.
It is a good idea to aim for a good healthy body score somewhere between 5 and 7.
If your mare is overweight it can
- Reduce fertility
- Extra weight can increase stress on joints, ligaments, and hooves (especially in the older mare)
- Increased possibility of health concerns such as insulin resistance or founder
- Decreased mobility
If your mare is too thin or in poor condition
- Take longer to start cycling regularly.
- Lower conception rates
- Higher risk of not being able to maintain a healthy pregnancy
Pastures during and coming out of winter can often be low in all the important vitamins and minerals that a mare needs to produce a strong healthy foal such as Copper and Zinc which are essential for good bone development. The required calcium and phosphorus ratio can often be less than ideal, which is important to have corrected for bone strength. Selenium and iodine can also be lacking, which is needed for good foetal growth.
Dry mares need to have access to ample good quality hay and/or pasture. Added forage assists by providing needed calories and helping them keep warm while the weather remains cool. It is also necessary to supply a well-balanced vitamin and mineral supplement or a complete Ration Balancer to provide all their essential daily requirements.
Nutrition for the dry mare is often not prioritised but it is essential for both a successful pregnancy and for the long-term benefits of the foal, including good development, soundness, and health. Aiming for a good to average body score is ideal, monitor condition regularly and increase the ration if needed as the season progresses.
If you have any questions or aren’t sure if what you are feeding is the best for your situation always ask for some advice from a qualified nutritionist or your veterinarian. Ranvet offers a free ONLINE DIET EVALUATION SERVICE that can help take the guesswork out of creating the perfect ration. Alternatively, you can also see our SUGGESTED MARE RATIONS for some guidance and inspiration!