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 Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). 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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