Feeding Broodmares and Foals

Sep 27, 2021


Horse breeding requires a significant investment of time, effort, and money. To get the best return on your investment, it’s important to provide your broodmares and foals with high quality nutrition. Paying careful attention to your feeding program will ensure that your youngsters get started off on the right hoof!
 
Monitor Body Condition
Your horse’s body condition score (BCS) is a simple, easily observed indication of whether she is eating too many, too few, or just the right number of calories. The Henneke Body Condition Scoring scale rates the amount of fat on a horse from 1 to 9, with 1 indicating an emaciated horse and 9 indicating a horse that is extremely fat. Broodmares should ideally be maintained at a BCS of 5-6. This means that the withers, spine, and hip bones should be slightly rounded, and the mare’s ribs should be felt but not seen. Growing horses, on the other hand, should be kept slightly thinner, at a BSC of 4-5; the last 2-3 ribs may be just visible. While carrying a bit of extra weight may improve a mare’s fertility, too much weight on a growing skeleton may predispose a young horse to developmental orthopedic disorders such as physitis and osteochondrosis.
 
Protein: Quantity and Quality
Broodmares and young horses require protein for building healthy body tissues. When looking at the protein content of your horse’s diet, it’s important to pay attention to both quantity and quality. The first of these, quantity, is usually fairly easy to meet through providing ample forage (pasture or hay). However, you must ensure that the protein being provided is of sufficient quality, which means that it contains the correct balance of amino acids to support growth. Alfalfa and soybean meal are two common high-quality protein sources used in equine rations. Lysine and methionine are two amino acids that are commonly deficient in equine diets. Feeds designed for breeding and growing animals will be higher in these important nutrients when compared to feeds designed for mature, non-breeding horses.

Minerals
When you think about minerals needed for growth, calcium and phosphorous probably come to mind immediately. These two minerals are critical for skeletal health, and it is important that they are provided in the correct ratio (2:1 Ca:P) for optimal growth. There are other minerals, however, that are also critical in growing horses. Magnesium, copper, and zinc are also necessary for healthy growth and development. These minerals, particularly copper and zinc, tend to be found at very low levels in forages, so it is important that they are provided in the horse’s feed.
 
Choosing a Feed
Now that we’ve discussed some of the nutrients that are important in broodmare and foal diets, you’re probably wondering how to supply them. Pinnacle Mare & Foal (item #331CO) is specifically designed to meet the nutrient needs of broodmares and young, growing horses. If you prefer to feed a pelleted product, then Pinnacle 1400 (item #321PE) is also an excellent choice. With either of these products, it is important to follow the feeding instructions on the bag to ensure that you are meeting your horse’s protein, mineral, and vitamin requirements. What if your mare and/or foal is an easy keeper and can’t consume the recommended amount of 331 or 321? In that case, Pinnacle Balancer (item #336PE) can be fed to meet these requirements while providing fewer calories.
 
Providing a high quality and balanced diet is critical for healthy growth and development of your broodmares and foals. Your local Co-op offers a complete line of equine feeds to help you meet these needs.

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