Feeding Mares After Foaling

How to Feed Mares after Foaling

Most common misstep with feeding mares is overfeeding during early pregnancy and not feeding enough during lactation. There are 4 stages with feeding broodmares; early pregnancy (conception through 6 months), late pregnancy, (7 months to foaling), early lactation (first 12 weeks of milk production after foaling), and late lactation (next 8 – 10 weeks).

Mares milk production during lactation ranges from 2.5 – 4% of body weight/day; for a 1,000 lb. mare that’s 25 -40 lbs. of milk produced each day. These estimates may vary with breed and diet. A foal consuming 4 gallons of milk per day translates to 32 lbs. of milk consumed per day.

A mare’s diet during lactation will consist of forage (hay) and a balanced formula (formula that is balanced considers energy, protein, vitamins & minerals that complement the forage portion of the diet); a balanced formula is not a vitamin/mineral supplement, and not a ration balancer.

Feeding mares a balanced formula during late pregnancy is very important with preparing the mare and foal-to-be with adequate macro and trace nutrients. These nutrients can be stored and be available during the high nutritional demands of early lactation and the foal’s early growth phase.

Feeding a mare after foaling

Feeding Mares During Early Lactation (first 12 weeks after foaling)

  1. A mare’s energy requirements for the first 8 weeks after foaling approximate 90% more energy than when she was fed for maintenance.
  2. Feeding a balanced formula for lactation, such as Intgerity Mare & Foal, will provide the energy and nutrients needed above the forage fed. More energy from a balanced formula translates to more macro and trace nutrients, while maintaining the appropriate nutrient:calorie ratio requirements.
  3. Hay fed will range from 2.2-2.75% of body weight and possibly higher the first 8 weeks. Although grass hay is recommended, mixing some alfalfa hay will provide additional protein and calcium without compromising the fiber intake which is critical for gut health. During early lactation, alfalfa can be about 1/3 of the forage fed.
    • For example, if a 1,000 lb, mare is fed 22 lbs. of forage/day then the part alfalfa option is 7 lbs. alfalfa and 15 lbs. grass hay.
  4. With adequate forage, Intgerity Mare & Foal feeding guidelines suggest for a 1,000 lb. early lactating mare a minimum 4 – 7 lbs./day.
    • Keep in mind lactation will vary with breed, type and amount of forage fed, quality of forage and body condition score of the mare.
    • Mares should be fed to maintain a body condition score of 5.5.
  5. Daily diet examples for a 1,000 lb. mare during the first 8 weeks of lactation are:
    • 24 lbs.of grass hay + 6.6 lbs. of Intgerity Mare & Foal OR
    • 17 lbs. of grass hay + 6 lbs. of alfalfa hay + 6.5 lbs. of Intgerity Mare & Foal
    • A reminder, these two feeding examples will be influenced by type and quality of hay and individual requirements of the mare will vary thus feed to maintain a body condition score of 5.5
    • Also, during the final 4 weeks of early lactation, the diet (forage and balanced formula) will most likely need adjustment as the mare’s milk production will begin to decline as she approaches the late lactation stage.
  6. Foals may be creep fed as early as 8 – 10 weeks of age. See the fact sheet, Creep Feeding Guidelines, available in Dr. Bray’s Corner.
  7. Water for animals is a given, however during early lactation, a mare will consume 60 – 75% more water than if she was not producing milk.
    • Double buckets and checking several times during the day is encouraged.
    • Automatic water systems do not allow one to know how much water is being consumed daily, an important observation for all stalled horses.

Feeding Mares During Late Lactation (next 8-10 weeks)

  1. A mare’s milk production begins to decrease after 10 – 12 weeks. During late lactation gradually reduce the Intgerity Mare & Foal feed while maintaining the current level of forage fed.
  2. As the mare transitions to producing less milk and being fed less of the balanced formula, fiber from the forage continues to be critical with maintaining a healthy gut’s microbiome. Nevertheless, forage consumption will decline from the peak during early lactation.
  3. By the 5th – 6 th month of lactation, start to transition the mare to an adult balanced formula such as Integrity Adult/Senior.