When feeding a broodmare the goal is to maintain her in good condition without excessive weight gain in the early stages of pregnancy.
It’s important to ensure that the mare is receiving adequate vitamin and mineral intake throughout the whole of her pregnancy, but provided that she is in a healthy body condition, and has plenty of fibre with a balanced diet, she should not require an increase in feed until month eight of pregnancy. It is important to avoid overfeeding mares as fat mares can have a harder labour, and are more prone to lameness and laminitis.
Most foetal growth occurs in the last 3 months of gestation. Therefore, as foaling approaches look to increase the caloric density of her feed to support lactation and foal growth. This can be achieved by feeding broodmare mixes and oils, alongside adequate supply of good quality forage. At foaling, the mare will require more protein, energy, phosphorus and calcium to provide good milk for her foal as well as maintain her condition and return to breeding. Mares may require up to 2-3% of their body weight in feed a day, so ensure that there is plenty of pasture and hay available as well as a quality feed designed for a lactating mare (i.e. good levels of protein and appropriate energy, calcium and phosphorous levels).
Monitoring the weight of your mare is essential throughout this time, and body condition scoring is a great way to keep track of how your mare is doing. Lactation is a large drain on the body, if you are concerned that your mare is losing weight, despite an adequate feed regime, consult your veterinarian to assess the mare to ensure she is healthy.