A gestating mare needs extra nutrients to be able to give birth to a healthy and strong foal. After the birth, you adapt the mare's feed schedule again.
The first months in the mother's womb and the first two years after the birth are important for the foal's physical and mental development. This period is crucial for:
- the bone quality,
- the muscle formation,
- the development of a healthy gastrointestinal system,
- and the foal's susceptibility to diseases.
It is therefore important for the foal to ingest the right nutrients in the correct proportions during this period.
Nutrition for gestating mares
A mare that does not deliver sports performances needs a good maintenance mix like Cavalor® Tradition Mix in the first months of the gestation. During the last 3 months of the pregnancy the nutritional needs increase by 50%.
As from the 9th month on, the mare has an higher need for minerals (e.g. calcium, copper, zinc, manganese and phosphorus), vitamins (A and D3) and especially high-quality proteins. That is why you should supplement the maintenance feed with high-energy concentrates like Cavalor Probreed or Cavalor ProGrow.
Boost the foal's immunity before its birth
In addition to normal nutrients the foal also needs substances that will protect it from bacteria present in its direct environment right after the birth. So, during the final month of the gestation, put up the mare in the box or on the pasture where the foal will be born and where it will spend its first stage of life. This way the mare will produce the right antibodies (immunoglobulins) to combat the bacteria present in that area. To ensure a maximal disease resistance, the mare needs to have had all necessary vaccines and wormings. Please contact your veterinarian for this.
The protective substances will also be present in the mare's colostrum, and consequently protect the foal better. The foal is the most vulnerable during the first two weeks, because then it produces no or hardly any immunoglobulins of itself.
Problems with the colostrum
If the birth went smoothly, it is important that the newborn foal drinks from the mother as quickly as possible. The colostrum contains all necessary nutrients and immunity substances for the newborn foal. Should the foal be too weak at birth (so it is not able to seek the udder), or the mare does not produce enough milk, then it is of the utmost importance that the foal gets an additional colostrum replacement like Cavalor Colostra 24 as soon as possible (within 24 hours!).
Shortages in these first crucial hours could harm the further development of the foal. Cavalor Hyppolac was especially developed as milk replacer for motherless foals of for foals of which the mothers cannot produce enough milk. Because a feeding schedule is important to foals, it is advised to carefully follow the feeding schedule on the packaging of artificial milk.
Nutrition for lactating mares
During the period in which the foal drinks mother’s milk, the mare has higher nutritional requirements than during gestation. Always provide plenty of water. Milk production is at its highest around the tenth week. This can go up to 18 l per day, with the udder only able to contain up to two litres of milk.
In addition to the quantity of the milk, the quality of the milk is very important. The mare’s condition plays an important role in that. The milk of a skinny mare will have less fat and crude protein than that of a mare with a higher percentage of body fat. These fats and proteins supply the energy and raw materials for cell growth. The need for proteins of high biological value is especially increasing, as well as for calcium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, vitamin A, and vitamin D3.
To be able to meet the increased needs, a lactating mare needs a high-energy feed, with e.g. a high percentage in vegetable oils and high-quality proteins, like Cavalor ProBreed.
Feed for the growing foal
From month one, give an increasingly larger quantity of concentrated feed to the foal, step by step. This causes the foal's digestive system to develop much quicker and the base for a stronger and quickly full-grown horse is formed quicker. This also enhances weaning.
The best possible feed schedule for a foal depends on multiple factors, e.g. breed, descent, feed (quality), facility (pasture with sufficient grass/hay) and constitution. In practice, we usually base ourselves on averages. Research shows that foals up until 12 months old benefit from high-energy food (many fats and proteins) like Cavalor Start & Go. After this period, the carer should keep in mind that the young horse does not get too fat, so it does not strain the bones and joints, that are still developing. From 12 months of age, you can give the young horse Cavalor Juniorix, for a balanced growth.