From AAEP’s Ask the Vet: Broodmare Due Any Day

My Trakehner brood mare is due March 15. She is 11 years old and in good body condition. I would like to know if I need to change her feed ration. She gets 7 lbs of Southern States Legends Performance textured, 1 lb of Triple Crown Senior and one scoop of Daily Omega Plus. Will not eat more. I just took her off the grass and she gets first cutting alfalfa hay, free choice. I have her on the 10% fat feed because she has trouble keeping her weight up. She will not eat rice bran or other high calorie supplements, I tried several. Please let me know if I need to change anything. Thank you so much! – Gabriele

Dear Gabriele,

As a Trakehner owner myself, I know how wonderful these horses are. You must be very excited! One thing jumps out at me from your question, and that is the fact that she receives free choice alfalfa hay. Please speak with your local veterinarian and nutritionist about this, as certain health conditions (for example enteroliths) have been linked to an all-alfalfa hay diet. While I love this legume as a forage, she might be better off with a mix of alfalfa and grass hay.

The next fact I noticed was that she gets one pound of senior or complete feed. Certainly this category of product is great for older horses who may not be able to tolerate traditional roughage anymore, but senior feeds are very, very dilute in terms of nutrients (energy, protein, vitamins and minerals). You may want to just cut this out of her diet completely since it’s bulky and taking up valuable intestinal tract space that should be reserved for more concentrated feeds.

While we’re on the topic of grain, I looked up the fortified grain you’re feeding and it’s designed “for mature horses in moderate and intense performance or show activities.” Since you’re already having trouble keeping her weight up-plus the first few months of lactation are going to be an even bigger energy drain on her system-I recommend you gradually switch to a more concentrated product, one specifically for pregnant and nursing mares.

In addition, research suggests supplementing with active live yeast such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae can improve feed efficiency. That is, certain digestive support products can help horses extract more out of the feed they are already being given. Talk to your veterinarian about adding a supplement with yeast, probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes and other ingredients. Best of luck on a healthy foal!

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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One comment on “From AAEP’s Ask the Vet: Broodmare Due Any Day
  1. Jarrah says:

    I had the same problem this spring and I am now a Huge fan of Purina Ultimate Growth (the green bag). My own warmblood mare is typically a very easy keeper, but once the foal was born I couldn’t keep the weight on her and she lost all her baby weight in the first week. Ultium Growth is a super premium concentrated grain for broodmares and foals, and the only “mare & foal” grain I could find that could keep her weight up.

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