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Many breeders underestimate the nutritional requirements of mares in the last three months of gestation and the first three months of lactation. This is a critical period for both the mare and her foal; however, lactation issues can be mitigated through a special feeding programme in the last three months of gestation to ensure that the mare does not draw too much from her reserves and that the lactation peak occurs on foaling.
The mare’s needs in protein and energy practically double compared with those at the end of gestation.
Mares which are underfed during lactation will draw on their own body reserves to try to feed their foals properly and will start to lose condition.
They quickly struggle to produce enough milk and the foals will soon show signs of poor development.
In contrast, overfed mares, particularly those receiving rations with excessive amounts of cereals (excess starch), will be prone to fat deposits around the teat which does not promote good milk production.
Highly specific breeding feed, such as Royal Horse’s B-line should be given to mares during lactation.
Consider contacting your veterinary surgeon and specialist technician for advice.