Today, we’re going to discuss the importance of nutrition for lactating mares. As their foals grow and consume more milk, mares undergo significant strain to produce enough milk to support their growth. It is not uncommon for mare owners to notice a significant weight loss in the mare while nursing the foal. However, by providing adequate nutritional support for the mare during this demanding period, such weight loss can be prevented. The energy requirements for lactating mares are nearly double compared to early gestation, and their requirements for protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A also increase significantly. To ensure the mare recovers from foaling, produces enough milk, and resumes normal cycling, it is crucial to meet these nutrient demands. Gradually increasing the mare’s feed intake over the last few months of gestation can help her be in a positive energy balance when she foals, avoiding the need for a significant increase in feed intake during lactation. By providing a concentrated feed with added oil and high-quality protein, such as Purina All Time Growth or Strategy GX, the downward curve of milk production and nutrient content can be slowed, benefiting the foal’s early growth. For more information on feeding lactating mares, please visit our website.

Feeding lactating mares is crucial for the well-being of both the mare and the foal. With their energy demands dramatically changing overnight after foaling, it is important to gradually increase their feed intake during gestation to be ahead of the game. Rapidly increasing their feeding rate post-foaling or not providing enough calories can lead to weight loss in the mare, negatively impacting reproductive efficiency and foal development. Producing an average of 3 gallons of milk daily, the nutrient content of the mare’s milk gradually declines over time. However, by providing a concentrated feed such as Purina All Time Growth or Strategy GX, which include added oil and high-quality protein, the downward curve of milk production and nutrient content can be slowed, giving the nursing foal a better start in life.

Table of Contents

Understanding Lactating Mares and Their Nutritional Needs

Identifying the significant demands of lactating mares

Lactating mares, commonly referred to as wet mares, undergo significant changes in their nutritional requirements. When a mare is nursing a foal, she becomes an eating machine, putting a tremendous drain on her body as she tries to produce enough milk to support the foal’s growth. It is not uncommon for mare owners to mention how a foal “drew the mare down,” meaning that the mare lost a significant amount of weight while nursing the foal. This can be avoided by providing adequate nutritional support for the mare during this demanding period of lactation.

The increase in daily nutrient requirements in mares post foaling

The day the foal is born and begins to nurse, the mare’s daily nutrient requirements increase tremendously. Her requirements for protein and energy are nearly double what they were during early gestation. In addition, her requirements for calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A also increase. These nutrient demands must be met in order for the mare to recover from foaling, produce adequate milk, and begin to cycle normally.

The role of energy and protein in supporting lactating mares

No other horse has higher energy demands than a lactating mare in the first two months of milk production. If a lactating mare is fed just like a pregnant mare, she will surely lose body condition, which can negatively affect reproductive efficiency and foal development. It is crucial to understand that the mare’s energy demands change dramatically essentially overnight when she foals. Therefore, it is a good idea to gradually increase her feed intake over the last three to four months of gestation. This ensures that when she foals, she is already in a good positive energy balance and her feed intake won’t need to be significantly increased to support lactation. This is a much better plan than rapidly increasing the feeding rate of the mare post-foaling or allowing her to lose body condition during lactation due to not being fed enough calories.

The high energy demands of a lactating mare during the first two months

A lactating mare’s energy demands during the first two months of milk production are exceptionally high. In order to meet these demands, it is essential to provide her with a sufficient amount of high-quality feed. If the mare is not adequately fed, she may lose body condition, which can have negative effects on both her reproductive efficiency and the development of the foal.

How inadequate feeding can lead to loss of body condition

If a lactating mare is fed insufficiently, her body condition may suffer. This means that she may lose weight and become thinner. Inadequate feeding can occur if the mare’s energy demands are not properly understood or if her feed intake is not adjusted to meet those demands. It is important to recognize the signs of inadequate feeding, such as a visibly thin mare or a decrease in milk production, and take appropriate steps to address the issue.

The impact of negative energy balance on reproductive efficiency and foal development

A negative energy balance occurs when a lactating mare is not consuming enough calories to meet her energy demands. This can have a significant impact on both the mare’s reproductive efficiency and the development of the foal. A mare in a negative energy balance may have difficulty cycling normally, which can make it challenging to successfully breed her again. Additionally, the foal may not receive the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and development, potentially leading to health issues in the future.

Benefits of gradually increasing feed intake towards the end of gestation

To support a lactating mare’s nutritional needs, it is beneficial to gradually increase her feed intake towards the end of gestation. By doing so, the mare will already be in a good positive energy balance when she foals, and her feed intake won’t need to be significantly increased to support lactation. This approach allows for a smoother transition and reduces the risk of the mare losing body condition during this critical period.

Avoiding rapid increase in feeding rates post foaling

Rapidly increasing the feeding rate of a mare post-foaling is not ideal for her overall health and well-being. It can put unnecessary stress on her digestive system and potentially lead to digestive issues or colic. It is important to gradually adjust the mare’s feed intake based on her energy demands and body condition to ensure a smooth transition and maintain her optimal health.

The importance of nutrient balance for recovering from foaling

Proper nutrient balance is crucial for a lactating mare’s recovery from foaling. Nutrients such as protein, energy, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A play vital roles in supporting the mare’s overall health and milk production. Ensuring that the mare’s diet provides adequate amounts of these nutrients will aid in her recovery and support the growth and development of the foal.

The correlation between energy intake and milk production

Energy intake plays a significant role in a lactating mare’s milk production. The more energy she consumes, the more milk she will be able to produce. Adequate energy intake is essential for supporting the nutritional needs of the foal and promoting its healthy growth and development.

Peak milk production period in mares

Milk production in mares reaches its peak around 30 days after foaling. During this time, the demand for milk production is exceptionally high, and the mare must receive sufficient nutrients to meet this increased demand. It is crucial to provide the mare with a balanced and nutrient-rich diet during this period to support optimal milk production and foal growth.

The evolution of mare’s milk nutrient content over the lactation period

The nutrient content of mare’s milk undergoes changes throughout the lactation period. Initially, the milk provides a high level of nutrients to support the foal’s rapid growth. However, as lactation progresses, the nutrient content gradually decreases. By the fourth month of lactation, the mare’s milk provides less than 30% of the total energy needed by the foal for growth. Providing a lactating mare with a concentrated feed that includes added oil and high-quality protein, such as Purina’s All Tiem Growth or Strategy GX, can help slow down this downward curve of production and nutrient content of the milk. This, in turn, translates into an early growth advantage for the nursing foal.

Relation between lactation and foal growth

Lactation plays a crucial role in foal growth. The mare’s milk is the primary source of nutrition for the foal during the early stages of its life. Adequate milk production and the provision of essential nutrients through the mare’s milk are vital for supporting the foal’s healthy growth and development. A well-nourished lactating mare can provide the necessary energy and nutrients for the foal, setting it up for a strong start in life.

How Purina’s concentrates can help slow the decrease in milk production

Purina Animal Nutrition offers concentrates specifically formulated to support lactating mares and their nutritional needs. These concentrated feeds, such as Purina All Tiem Growth and Strategy GX, are designed to provide the necessary nutrients and energy for lactating mares. By incorporating these concentrates into the mare’s diet, it is possible to slow down the decrease in milk production and maintain higher nutrient content in the milk, ensuring the foal receives optimal nutrition for its growth and development.

Importance of high-quality protein and added oil in mare feed

high-quality protein and added oil are essential components of a lactating mare’s feed. Protein is necessary for supporting milk production and promoting overall muscle development in both the mare and the foal. Added oil provides additional calories and helps maintain the mare’s body condition, preventing excessive weight loss during lactation. By including high-quality protein and added oil in a mare’s feed, her nutritional needs can be better met, leading to healthier milk production and improved foal growth.

Impact of Purina’s feed on nurturing a nursing foal

Purina’s specially formulated feeds for lactating mares can have a positive impact on the growth and development of nursing foals. These feeds provide the necessary nutrients, energy, and essential minerals and vitamins to support optimal foal growth. By ensuring that the lactating mare receives a balanced diet with the help of Purina’s feed, the foal can have a healthier start in life, setting it up for future success.

Difficulties in weight gain for thin lactating mares

Lactating mares that are thin or have lost body condition can face difficulties in gaining weight. It is essential to consider their high energy demands and adjust their feeding plan accordingly. Increasing their feed intake with nutrient-dense feeds and providing them with a suitable nutritional program can aid in weight gain and promote overall health.

Recognizing and addressing underfeeding in lactating mares

Underfeeding in lactating mares can have detrimental effects on their health and the development of the foal. It is crucial to monitor their body condition score regularly and make adjustments to their feeding plan if necessary. Recognizing signs of underfeeding, such as weight loss or a decrease in milk production, and taking appropriate steps to address the issue is essential for maintaining the mare’s well-being and supporting the foal’s growth.

Tips to plan ahead for optimum lactating mare health

Planning ahead for lactating mare health is crucial for providing the best possible care and nutrition for both the mare and the foal. Some tips for planning ahead include gradually increasing feed intake towards the end of gestation, ensuring a balanced and nutrient-rich diet, monitoring body condition regularly, and adjusting the feeding plan as necessary. By implementing these strategies, mare owners can ensure that their lactating mares receive optimal nutrition and support for successful foal rearing.

The significance of Calcium, Phosphorus, and Vitamin A in lactating mare’s diet

Calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A are highly significant nutrients in a lactating mare’s diet. Calcium and phosphorus are essential for bone development and milk production. Adequate intake of these minerals is crucial to support the foal’s growth and maintain the mare’s overall health. Vitamin A plays a vital role in reproductive efficiency and immune function. Including these nutrients in the mare’s feed ensures that her nutritional needs are met for optimal lactation and foal development.

Understanding the need for mineral balance in mare feed

Maintaining a proper mineral balance in a mare’s feed is essential for her overall health and the growth and development of the foal. Various minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, and trace minerals like zinc and copper, play vital roles in supporting bone development, muscle function, and immune function. Ensuring the right balance of minerals in the mare’s feed is crucial for maintaining optimal health and supporting her role as a nursing mare.

Ensuring foal growth and development

Proper nutrition during lactation is critical for the growth and development of the foal. The mare’s milk is the primary source of nutrition for the foal, providing essential nutrients, energy, and antibodies that support its growth and immune system development. By ensuring that the lactating mare receives the necessary nutrients through her feed, foal growth and development can be optimized.

The importance of mare’s milk in supplying energy for the foal

Mare’s milk is a rich source of energy for the foal during the early stages of its life. The milk provides the necessary nutrients and calories to support the foal’s growth and development. Ensuring that the lactating mare’s nutritional needs are met through a balanced diet allows her to produce high-quality milk that supplies the foal with the energy it needs.

How mare’s nutrition affects foal’s start in life

The nutrition of the lactating mare directly impacts the foal’s start in life. By providing the mare with a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet, the foal receives the necessary nutrients and energy through the mare’s milk. This sets the foundation for the foal’s growth and development, potentially leading to better health and overall performance in the future.

Recognizing the different nutritional needs of mares at various lactation stages

It is essential to recognize that the nutritional needs of mares can vary at different stages of lactation. During the early stages, the foal’s growth is at its highest, and the mare’s energy demands are significant. As lactation progresses, the foal’s growth rate slows down, and the mare’s nutrient requirements may change. Tailoring the feeding plan according to the specific stage of lactation ensures that the mare receives the appropriate nutrients to support her milk production and the foal’s growth.

The role of individual mare assessments in customizing feeding plans

Each lactating mare is unique and may have specific needs and requirements. Conducting individual assessments of mares allows for customized feeding plans that consider factors such as body condition, energy demands, milk production, and overall health. By tailoring the feeding plan to each mare’s specific needs, it is possible to provide optimal nutrition and support for both the mare and the foal.

Conclusion

Sound nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting lactating mares for optimal milk production and foal development. Understanding the significant demands of lactating mares and providing the necessary nutrients, energy, and minerals are essential for the mare’s health and the growth of the foal. Purina Animal Nutrition offers specialized concentrates that can help support lactating mares, slow the decrease in milk production, and provide the foal with a healthy start in life. By customizing feeding plans and ensuring a balanced diet, mare owners can ensure the well-being of their lactating mares and the success of their foals.