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Before covering, feed quality will impact the mare’s fertility. If she has deficiencies or is undernourished, this may lower the likelihood of her being in foal. For the broodmare to deliver a healthy foal, her condition prior to covering is essential: she should be neither too fat nor too thin. Her condition must be monitored throughout the gestation period. A feed adapted to stud horses should be favoured, such as Royal Horse’s B100 (pellets) or B150 (flaked) ranges. This range is specially designed for stud horses and will meet all their nutritional needs, regardless of the reproduction or gestation phase.
The gestation period in horses is fairly long as it lasts eleven months. During the first seven months of gestation, the foal develops rather slowly, achieving only 17% of its birth weight. As such, during this period, the broodmare’s nutritional needs are fairly similar to those of a mare that is not in foal. A feed crop-based diet may be more than sufficient, if the grass is rich and abundant (especially in spring) and the hay is of good quality. However, you should give her mineral and vitamin supplements and a salt lick. If the broodmare is not pastured or has limited access to a field, you should give her horse pellets / flaked feed and hay.
From the seventh month, the foetus begins to develop very quickly. The mare’s body mass will increase by 7% on average, representing about 45 kilos for a 550 kilo mare. As such, the broodmare’s nutritional needs will increase, in particular, for protein. At the end of the gestation period, the foetus occupies a lot of space in the mare’s abdomen, making the absorption of hay and grass in large quantities more difficult; it is therefore necessary to compensate for this and increase the ration in concentrated feed because it contains proteins rich in amino acids, especially lysine, which helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for the development of the foal’s bones.
Lactation in mares requires significant physiological effort, especially during the first three months following delivery of the foal. The foal’s nutritional needs take priority over her own needs, as such, the mare with foal at foot will use her reserves in case of deficiency. In particular, she will need L-carnitine, an amino acid that the foal needs to develop but which it cannot synthesise in sufficient quantities on its own. If the broodmare is fed with Royal Horse B100 or B150, she will be able to pass it to the foal in her milk. This amino acid also has the beneficial effect of improving the mare’s fertility in view of a future covering.