How To Feed A Pregnant Mare

Pregnancy in mares is a critical phase that demands special attention to their dietary needs. Proper nutrition is essential for the health and development of both the mare and the unborn foal. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the specific requirements of a pregnant mare’s diet, including increased energy and nutrient needs, adequate protein intake, essential vitamins and minerals, and the ideal types of feed. We will also delve into the crucial aspects of calculating energy requirements, monitoring body condition score, and making necessary adjustments as the pregnancy progresses. We will highlight what should be avoided in a pregnant mare’s diet, such as high-sugar and high-calcium feeds, as well as toxic plants. We will discuss the importance of regular monitoring and the involvement of a veterinarian or equine nutritionist in ensuring the optimal diet for a pregnant mare. Join us as we explore the key principles of feeding a pregnant mare to ensure the well-being of both the mare and her developing foal.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pregnant mares require an increased energy and nutrient intake, adequate protein, and essential vitamins and minerals in their diet.
  • It is important to monitor a pregnant mare’s diet by calculating energy requirements, checking body condition score, and adjusting feed accordingly.
  • High-quality hay, concentrated feeds, and supplements are recommended for a pregnant mare’s diet, while high-sugar and high-calcium feeds and toxic plants should be avoided.
  • What Does a Pregnant Mare Need in Her Diet?

    During pregnancy, a mare’s diet plays a crucial role in ensuring the health and well-being of both the mare and the developing foal. Proper nutrition, encompassing essential nutrients, energy, and specific feed components, is vital to support the demands of gestation and prepare the mare for foaling and lactation.

    Dr. Josie Coverdale, an expert in equine nutrition, emphasizes the importance of maintaining an optimal body condition score (BCS) in pregnant mares to support the requirements for growth and development. Adequate protein, calcium, and phosphorus are crucial for musculoskeletal development in the growing foal. Energy needs increase as pregnancy progresses, and high-quality forage and grain combinations are recommended to meet these requirements.

    The balance of nutrients in the diet directly affects the mare’s reproductive performance and the health of the newborn foal. Careful attention to the feed materials and vitamin and mineral supplements is essential to support proper gestation, foaling, and lactation.

    Increased Energy and Nutrient Requirements

    The increased energy and nutrient requirements of a pregnant mare are essential for supporting the growth and development of the fetus, as well as sustaining the mare’s own metabolic needs during this critical period.

    During pregnancy, the mare’s body undergoes significant physiological changes to accommodate the growing fetus, which necessitates a higher intake of glucose and insulin regulation. Proper prenatal care becomes crucial to ensure the mare receives a balanced diet that meets these heightened demands. Equine nutritionists play a vital role in formulating specialized nutrition plans tailored to the unique needs of pregnant mares, optimizing their diet to support fetal growth and development.

    Adequate Protein Intake

    Adequate protein intake is crucial for a pregnant mare to support the physiological changes associated with gestation, fetal growth, and the development of the mammary gland in preparation for lactation.

    Protein is an essential macronutrient for the overall health and development of the unborn foal as well as the well-being of the mare during pregnancy. It plays a vital role in providing the necessary building blocks for the growth of the fetal tissues and the development of the mammary gland, which are essential for successful lactation after the foaling.

    Protein sources for mares can include high-quality hay, legumes, and commercial concentrates specifically formulated for pregnant or lactating mares. Adequate protein not only supports the mare’s own health but also provides the necessary nutrients for the growing fetus.

    Expert guidance from equine nutritionists enables the formulation of a balanced diet that meets the specific protein requirement during gestation, promoting optimal fetal development and ensuring the mare’s health and breeding success.

    Essential Vitamins and Minerals

    Essential vitamins and minerals are integral components of a pregnant mare’s diet, contributing to the overall health, immunity, and proper development of the fetus and the mare herself.

    Selenium plays a crucial role in maintaining the mare’s reproductive health and preventing issues during gestation. Meanwhile, iodine supports proper thyroid function, which is essential for both the mare and the developing foal. Additionally, copper and calcium are fundamental for skeletal development and the prevention of deficiencies that could result in weak bones or other health issues.

    Ensuring the right balance of phosphorus in the diet is equally essential for the proper growth and development of the foal. Achieving the optimal intake of these vitamins and minerals requires the expertise of equine nutritionists who can tailor the diet and supplements to the specific needs of the pregnant mare, ensuring the well-being of both the mare and the foal.

    How Much Should a Pregnant Mare Eat?

    Determining the appropriate amount of feed for a pregnant mare involves careful consideration of her body condition score, stage of gestation, and specific nutritional requirements that evolve throughout the course of pregnancy.

    Optimal feed intake during pregnancy is crucial for the health of the mare and the developing foal. Mares with a body condition score of 5-6 are generally considered ideal for pregnancy, ensuring that they have sufficient stored energy to support the growing fetus. As gestation progresses, the nutritional needs of the mare change, with a higher demand for energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Equine nutritionists play a vital role in formulating a diet that meets these evolving requirements while taking into account factors such as selenium levels, which are essential for the mare’s overall well-being and the development of a healthy foal.

    Calculating Energy Requirements

    Calculating the energy requirements of a pregnant mare involves assessing her metabolic demands, fetal growth rates, and the physiological adjustments related to gestation, ensuring the provision of adequate energy for optimal health and development.

    One crucial factor to consider is glucose and insulin regulation, as pregnancy brings about notable changes in the mare’s metabolism. These changes can influence how glucose is utilized for maternal and fetal energy needs, highlighting the importance of maintaining stable glucose levels through proper nutrition and monitoring.

    Fetal growth also plays a significant role in determining the energy requirements of the pregnant mare. As the fetus develops, its energy demands increase, impacting the overall energy needs of the mare. It’s essential to assess fetal growth rates and adjust the diet accordingly to support healthy development.

    Prenatal care becomes integral in managing the mare’s energy requirements. Expert nutritional guidance from equine specialists is invaluable in tailoring a diet that meets the specific needs of the pregnant mare. By considering these factors, equine practitioners can better ensure the health and well-being of pregnant mares throughout gestation.

    Monitoring Body Condition Score

    Regularly monitoring the body condition score of a pregnant mare is essential for evaluating her nutritional status, identifying any changes in weight or body composition, and making adjustments to her diet as necessary.

    Equine nutritionists possess specialized knowledge to provide guidance on assessing the body condition score accurately and making dietary adjustments accordingly. During the early stages of pregnancy, closely monitoring the mare’s body condition score enables the identification of any signs of under-nutrition or overfeeding, ensuring the precise balance of nutrients essential for both the mare and the developing foal. By considering the mare’s body condition score, equine nutritionists can recommend specific feed requirements, helping in weight management and the overall well-being of the pregnant mare.

    Adjusting Feed as Pregnancy Progresses

    As pregnancy progresses, the feed requirements of a mare undergo dynamic changes, necessitating adjustments to her diet to accommodate the evolving needs of gestation, lactation, and post-foaling recovery.

    Equine nutritionists play a crucial role in designing and modifying the feeding program for pregnant mares. They consider the mare’s increasing weight, the foal’s growth, and the corresponding rise in nutrient requirements. Adjusting the energy levels, protein sources, and selenium content in the diet becomes essential to support the mare’s changing metabolic demands. Nutrient-rich forage, grains, and specialized supplements are carefully balanced to ensure the mare’s well-being and the healthy development of the foal. These dietary adjustments are tailored to prevent conditions such as nutrient imbalances or deficiencies that may impact the mare’s overall health and the gestation process.

    What Types of Feed are Best for a Pregnant Mare?

    What Types of Feed are Best for a Pregnant Mare? - How To Feed A Pregnant Mare

    Credits: Horselife.Org – Keith Smith

    Selecting the most suitable feed for a pregnant mare involves considering the nutrient composition, energy density, and specific attributes of various feed options, such as high-quality hay, concentrated feeds, and supplemental sources.

    Evaluating the nutrient composition is crucial, as pregnant mares have increased requirements for protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. Equine nutritionists recommend incorporating protein sources like soybean meal, which provides essential amino acids vital for the mare’s and the unborn foal’s growth.

    Monitoring the energy density of the feed is essential, ensuring that the mare receives sufficient calories to support fetal development and maintenance.

    In terms of fiber, pregnant mares benefit from fiber-rich feeds, like good-quality hay, to aid in digestion and promote gut health.

    When discussing supplemental sources, the inclusion of omega-3 and DHA should not be overlooked, as these contribute to the mare’s overall health and potentially the future development of the foal.

    High-Quality Hay

    High-quality hay serves as a fundamental component of a pregnant mare’s diet, providing essential nutrients, fiber, and energy while contributing to overall digestive health and metabolic balance.

    Not only does hay offer a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, D, and E, it also presents a balanced blend of protein sources that support the mare’s muscle development and fetal growth. The high fiber content in hay aids in maintaining proper digestive function and prevents issues such as colic and digestive upset. The energy contributions from hay are crucial for sustaining the mare’s increased metabolic demands during pregnancy.

    Concentrated Feeds

    Incorporating concentrated feeds into a pregnant mare’s diet can provide targeted nutrient supplementation, additional energy sources, and specialized formulations to support the unique demands of gestation and fetal development.

    These concentrated feeds play a crucial role in ensuring the optimal health and development of the unborn foal. They are formulated to contain essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals that are vital for the mare and fetal growth.

    These feeds offer a convenient way to provide energy supplementation to pregnant mares, especially in the latter stages of gestation when their energy requirements increase significantly. Equine nutritionists carefully consider the mare’s body condition, stage of pregnancy, and exertion level to recommend appropriate energy-dense feeds.

    Equine nutritionists possess specialized knowledge and expertise in evaluating the nutritional needs of pregnant mares and formulating concentrated feeds tailored to support their specific requirements. They consider factors such as the mare’s age, body condition score, and the nutritional value of the forage to design a well-balanced diet that meets the mare’s needs throughout pregnancy.


    Supplemental sources play a valuable role in enhancing the nutrient profile of a pregnant mare’s diet, ensuring optimal vitamin and mineral intake to support the mare’s health and the development of the growing foal.

    Equine nutritionists utilize their expertise to carefully evaluate the specific needs of each pregnant mare, considering factors such as age, body condition, and stage of gestation, to recommend appropriate supplements tailored to each mare’s requirements. These supplements are designed to address any potential deficiencies and provide targeted support for the mare’s changing nutritional needs during pregnancy, potentially contributing to the overall well-being and development of the unborn foal.

    What Should Be Avoided in a Pregnant Mare’s Diet?

    In managing a pregnant mare’s diet, it is essential to identify and avoid specific feed components, such as high-sugar feeds, high-calcium sources, and potentially toxic plants, that can pose risks to the mare and the developing foal.

    High-sugar feeds can increase the risk of gestational diabetes in mares, leading to challenges in managing the mare’s weight and impacting the foal’s development. Similarly, excessive calcium intake can disrupt the calcium-phosphorus balance, affecting bone development in the foal and potentially leading to skeletal abnormalities.

    Toxic plants like red maple, oleander, or yew can have severe consequences if ingested, including gastrointestinal distress, neurological issues, and even miscarriage in severe cases.

    Equine nutritionists play a crucial role in carefully formulating a balanced diet that avoids these detrimental components and ensures the overall well-being of the pregnant mare and the developing foal.

    High-Sugar Feeds

    High-sugar feeds should be avoided in the diet of pregnant mares to prevent potential metabolic disruptions, imbalances, and increased susceptibility to gestational issues.

    Pregnant mares are particularly sensitive to changes in their diet, and excessive sugar intake can lead to conditions such as gestational diabetes, insulin resistance, and abnormal weight gain, putting both the mare and the developing foal at risk for health complications. Equine nutritionists play a crucial role in assessing the nutritional needs of pregnant mares and formulating diets that are balanced in essential nutrients while minimizing the intake of high-sugar feeds. By working closely with professionals, horse owners can ensure the optimal health and well-being of their pregnant mares and their offspring.

    High-Calcium Feeds

    High-calcium feeds pose potential risks to pregnant mares, as excessive calcium levels can disrupt the delicate mineral balance and lead to complications during gestation and foaling.

    The delicate equilibrium of minerals in a pregnant mare’s body is essential for the proper development of her fetus. Excessive calcium intake can lead to imbalances in magnesium and phosphorus, crucial minerals for muscle function and bone development. This imbalance may increase the risk of developmental orthopedic diseases in the growing foal, impacting its long-term health and soundness. Nutritionists specializing in equine diets recommend careful evaluation and elimination of high-calcium sources in the mare’s feed to mitigate these risks.

    Toxic Plants

    Identifying and avoiding toxic plants in a pregnant mare’s diet is essential to prevent potential poisoning, digestive disturbances, and adverse effects on the health of both the mare and the developing foal.

    Many common plants can pose a significant risk to the health of pregnant mares if ingested. These plants may contain toxins that can adversely affect the mare’s digestive system, leading to colic and other gastrointestinal issues. The toxins can pass through the placenta to the developing foal, causing developmental abnormalities or even death.

    Equine nutritionists play a crucial role in identifying and eliminating toxic plants from the mare’s feeding environment. By conducting thorough assessments of the grazing areas and feed sources, these specialists can provide valuable guidance on creating a safe and balanced diet for pregnant mares, ensuring optimal health for both the mare and the foal.

    How to Monitor a Pregnant Mare’s Diet?

    Effectively monitoring a pregnant mare’s diet involves a comprehensive approach, including regular weighing, body condition scoring, and consultation with experienced equine nutritionists or veterinarians to ensure optimal dietary management.

    Regular weighing of the mare enables accurate tracking of weight gain, providing crucial insights into her nutritional needs and overall health during the gestational period.

    Body condition scoring involves assessing the mare’s body fat and muscle covering, helping to determine if adjustments are required in her feed regimen.

    Collaborating with knowledgeable equine nutritionists and veterinarians ensures that the mare’s diet is tailored to meet her specific requirements, promoting the well-being of both the mare and her developing foal.

    Regular Weighing and Body Condition Scoring

    Regular weighing and body condition scoring are essential tools for evaluating the effectiveness of a pregnant mare’s diet, allowing for adjustments based on changing weight and body composition throughout the stages of gestation.

    During the early stages of pregnancy, monitoring the mare’s weight and body condition becomes crucial as it directly impacts her overall health and the development of the foal. Equine nutritionists play a pivotal role in guiding horse owners on the frequency and methods of weighing and scoring, helping them to interpret the results and make necessary dietary modifications. This proactive approach ensures that the mare receives the optimal nutrition required to support her pregnancy and maintain her own well-being.

    Consultation with a Veterinarian or Equine Nutritionist

    Consulting with experienced veterinarians or equine nutritionists is crucial for ensuring the appropriate management and optimization of a pregnant mare’s diet, integrating expert guidance and specialized knowledge into the dietary plan.

    Equine nutritionists possess a deep understanding of the nutritional requirements of pregnant mares, and they play a crucial role in formulating balanced diets that provide essential nutrients for both the mare and the growing foal.

    Veterinarians can offer valuable insights into the overall health and well-being of the mare and the developing foal, collaborating with nutritionists to address any specific dietary considerations or health concerns. This collaborative approach ensures that the dietary plan is tailored to meet the individual needs of the pregnant mare, ultimately optimizing the health and vitality of both the mare and the foal.

    Adjusting Feed Based on Pregnancy Progress and Individual Needs

    Tailoring the feed based on the progression of pregnancy and the individual needs of the mare is essential for accommodating the dynamic nutritional demands and ensuring the optimal health and development of both the mare and the foal.

    As pregnancy advances, the mare’s nutritional requirements change significantly. Equine nutritionists play a crucial role in formulating a customized dietary plan that addresses these evolving needs. Adjustments in caloric intake, protein levels, and vitamin and mineral supplementation may be necessary to support the mare’s changing metabolic processes and the growth of the developing foal.

    During foaling, the mare’s nutritional needs are at their peak, necessitating precise adjustments in feed to support lactation and post-partum recovery.

    It requires expertise to timely recognize and fulfill the mare’s unique nutritional requirements at different stages of pregnancy and post-foaling, which can significantly impact the health and vigor of both the mare and foal.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the recommended diet for a pregnant mare?

    The recommended diet for a pregnant mare includes high-quality forage, such as hay or pasture, along with a balanced concentrate feed designed for pregnant or lactating mares.

    How much should a pregnant mare be fed?

    The amount of feed a pregnant mare should consume depends on her weight, stage of pregnancy, and nutritional needs. It is important to consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate amount for your mare.

    Can I continue to ride my pregnant mare during feeding?

    It is generally recommended to continue light exercise with a pregnant mare, but it is important to monitor her closely and adjust her diet and exercise routine as needed. Consult with a veterinarian before making any changes to your mare’s exercise routine.

    Should I make any changes to my pregnant mare’s diet during the last trimester?

    Yes, during the last trimester, a pregnant mare’s nutritional needs increase as the foal develops rapidly. It is important to increase the mare’s calorie intake and provide a balanced diet to support the growing foal.

    Are there any supplements that are beneficial for pregnant mares?

    Yes, there are certain supplements that can be beneficial for pregnant mares, such as a vitamin and mineral supplement specifically designed for pregnant mares. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian before adding any supplements to your mare’s diet.

    Do pregnant mares need any special care during feeding?

    Pregnant mares may require more frequent feedings and careful monitoring to ensure they are receiving proper nutrition. It is also important to maintain a consistent feeding schedule and provide access to fresh, clean water at all times. Additionally, pregnant mares may have specific dietary needs based on their individual health and pregnancy, so it is important to consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist for personalized care.

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