Nutrition is a key aspect for healthy broodmares especially during the bitter cold months. Read more to find out what you can do to help your broodmare stay fat, happy, and healthy this winter. 

All broodmares should have their body condition assessed regularly, as mares in good body condition have a reservoir of stored fat that can be used during cold winter months. Good body condition helps barren and maiden mares establish normal cycles sooner in the breeding season and results in higher conception rates. Similarly, mares in good body condition at foaling are easier to rebreed than thin mares. As pasture quality and quantity decline in late fall, owners should supplement mares' forage intake with hay. If the mares are losing body condition, the nutrients available to them are likely insufficient. Even if the mares seem to be maintaining body condition but the pasture is showing signs of overgrazing, it is probably time to offer hay. Providing hay in the fall will serve two purposes: First, it ensures mares will have enough to eat; and second, it might reduce overgrazing of the pasture. Overgrazing in the fall can weaken the plants, thus reducing their vigor the next spring and summer. Overgrazing can also allow more weeds to invade the pasture. a broodmare owner might want to estimate how much hay he or she will need to provide during the fall and winter. In a University of Kentucky study, mares consumed about 2-2.25 pounds of hay for each 100 pounds of body weight. So a medium-sized Thoroughbred mare (1,250 pounds) would consume about 25-28 pounds of hay daily. Remember that this figure represents the amount of hay consumed, not the amount fed. There will always be some wasted hay, so the amount fed should be slightly greater than the amount to be consumed. However, the mares in the study received only a small amount of concentrate each day, and mares fed greater amounts of concentrate would need less hay. In addition to pasture and/or hay, broodmares are usually fed either a commercially manufactured concentrate or supplement pellet (sometimes called a balancer pellet). The term "concentrate" refers to a feed that is a concentrated source of calories. Concentrates are added when the forage portion of the diet does not provide enough calories to meet a mare's needs. Most Thoroughbred-type mares should receive 5-10 pounds of concentrate in late gestation. Mares from small, thrifty breeds will usually be fed less concentrate in late gestation.   

 

 

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