Mares and Foals

Mares and foals have unique nutritional needs. Fortunately, these needs can be met by providing a well-balanced diet and varying the concentration of different nutritional components including roughage, protein, grass, hay, and grains. Despite an adequate diet, various factors such as stress can also impair the nutritional efficiency of mares and foals such that they’re neither able to eat enough feed nor utilize the feed they do consume to effectively support fertility or growth.

The use of a natural equine supplement that aids digestion and absorption, thus reducing equine stress can help prevent many common health issues for mares and foals. Here are some tips that can help boost nutritional efficiency and maintain healthy mares and foals.

Reduce Stress-Induced Cortisol

Stress can have a devastating effect on mares. In fact, it’s possible for mares that are under extreme stress to experience severe pain, weakened immunity, and reduced progesterone levels.

Lower progesterone secretion can lead to fetal losses. Stress in broodmares may be caused by a variety of factors such as:

  • Transportation of the mare over a long distance for breeding
  • Poor nutrition, especially due to the increased nutritional needs
  • Poor body condition including being overweight or underweight
  • Sudden changes in weather including extreme heat
  • Isolation from other horses in the band during breeding
  • Weaning of her foal

Stress can be reduced by a variety of methods including improving diet, giving adequate exercise, addressing the horse’s social needs and providing more emotional and physical attention and support.

Speak with a Zesterra® Specialist

Boost Healing of Gastric Ulcers

Ulcers are quite common in foals and mares. Some recent statistics show that about 50% of foals and 33% of mares and stallions that are confined to living in stalls have at least a mild form of ulcers. The group at highest risk of developing severe ulcers are race and show horses.

Most ulcers in horses are caused by the following factors:

  • Poor Feeding: Horses are accustomed to continuous grazing, eating small meals throughout the day. When they can eat regularly, the stomach always has feed present, creating a natural buffer against stomach acid damage.
  • Eating Feed High in Concentrates: Concentrates are necessary for providing the mare with the right amount of proteins and minerals needed during pregnancy and after foaling. They also help increase the flow of milk for the foal. The issue with concentrates is that they usually contain high amounts of phosphorus from grains, and they don’t require much chewing. This allows for rapid consumption and a lack of adequate saliva production. Saliva contains necessary enzymes and other constituents that help break down feed. When horses are fed with grass and hay, they chew their food for a longer time. This, in turn, increases the amount of saliva produced and swallowed with the masticated feed. Saliva also helps neutralize stomach acid and reduce the risk of ulcers.
  • Prolonged Periods of Exercise: As the amount of exercise is increased after foaling, the period available for feeding is reduced. This prolonged period without any fresh forage in the stomach can increase the risk of developing ulcers. Also, exercise may prolong the time it takes for the horse to empty their stomach, causing stomach acid to accumulate and leading to erosion of the stomach lining. One of the most effective ways to prevent ulcers is to give the mare a natural nutritional supplement that can neutralize the stomach acid and prevent gastric ulcers.

Stabilize the Gut

A horse’s digestive system is host to a wide array of beneficial bacteria that help with the digestion of grass and hay. In a natural environment with grazing, this bacteria is able to flourish, as there is a continuous supply of roughage coming into the gut. In the case of most horses, a diet containing more concentrates is fed. When this occurs, the population of these bacteria, including fungi, protozoa, and cellulolytic bacteria will be altered, leading to leaky gut syndrome. To maintain a balance of healthy bacteria in the horse’s stomach you can:

  • Ensure the horse has a steady supply of forage to keep microbes active and multiplying
  • Improve the horse’s diet by adding more roughage such as grass hay
  • Reduce the amount of grain or concentrate fed in each meal
  • Give the horse a natural supplement like Zesterra® that can help neutralize excess acid and maintain healthy beneficial gut flora colonies

To maintain good body condition a horse much be able to eat and drink regularly. You can increase the rate at which your horse eats by:

  • Providing good-quality, nutritious forage such as alfalfa that has a high percentage of protein and delivers high energy
  • Avoiding concentrates totally at the onset and then introducing them gradually so they don’t increase stomach acid and elevate the risk of gastric ulcers
  • Providing nutritional supplements that give the horse direct access to minerals and vitamins required to keep them healthy, especially during the wet months
  • Giving your horse a natural supplement that can promote the growth of bacteria that will help digest hay in the stomach and increase nutrient utilization
  • Reducing the amount of exercise the horse does so it can have more time to eat and gain weight

Boost the Horse’s Immunity

Broodmares need a boost in their nutrition during the last few months of gestation and in the early months after foaling. During the last trimester, the foal will grow at a rapid rate before birth, making early lactation following birth a stressful transition for the mare.

This stress can weaken the mare’s immune system and in turn, put her foal at risk of having less immunity. Foals are dependent on the passive immunity they receive from their mothers until they start developing their own immune systems. The addition of natural liquid supplements that contain vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics can help to improve a mare’s immune system and boost overall health.

Help Your Mare and Foal During Those First Vital Weeks!

For more details on how to take your mare and foal through gestation and lactation without a hitch, contact us today. You can also learn more about the benefits and power of Zesterra® on our product page.