Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: How much weight should my mare gain during pregnancy?
By Karen Briggs
A: Over the course of a healthy pregnancy, a broodmare’s weight should increase by an amount equal to the weight of the foal at birth plus the weight of the placenta and the uterine fluids. This generally represents 9% to 12% of the mare's original weight.
For example, a 1,100-pound mare will gain 100 to130 pounds during the course of her gestation, with two-thirds of that total weight gain coming in the final 3 months. (This works out to an average of 0.75 up to 1 pound of weight gain per day during that time period.
In the last 110 days of pregnancy, a broodmare’s energy needs wll progressively increase by 10% to 20%. A mare will need almost twice the amount of calcium and phosphorus in her diet than what she would normally require. Her need for protein will inch up to about 1.3 times the usual level.
All of these nutrients are important for the development of a strong and healthy foal. In order to satisfy those needs, her appetite will increase.
Once a client’s mare has given birth, the nutritional demands don’t decrease. In fact, lactation wll only accelerate the challenges to a mare’s system and her energy needs will shoot up by 80%. The protein needs will more than double and the requirements for calcium and phosphorus, which are both important minerals essential for the foal’s proper growth, will almost triple.
The first 8 weeks of nursing her foal are as strenuous an activity as a mare will ever undertake. It’ll have a lasting impact on how well her foal develops and matures.
Karen Briggs is a Canadian equine nutritionist, riding instructor, and has managed farms and riding schools in her career.
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Click here to read part 1 of the Feb. 15, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: How can I eliminate the mold that’s showing up in a few of my bales of hay?