If your mare is pregnant, it's essential for the correct development and health of her foal that she receives the correct nutrition for the duration of her pregnancy and for the first six months after the foal has been born.

Here's some general advice on feeding your pregnant mare.

Feeding the unborn foal

Foals grow very quickly whilst 'in-utero', so your mare will need her diet to be supplemented with high-quality feed containing a good mix of proteins and carbohydrates. Mineral and vitamin supplementation is also desirable.

Your mare's nutritional requirements will vary from the first few months of pregnancy through to the final trimester. Unfortunately, her appetite is likely to be poor towards the end of her pregnancy when the foal takes up any extra space in her abdomen. At this time, you will need to ensure that the mare is fed a very high calorie, vitamin supplemented diet to keep her strength up ready for the arrival of her baby.

Quality forage and feed

In addition to feeding good-quality hard feed, it's important that your mare receives plenty of forage that is also high in vitamins and minerals. Your local agricultural feed supplier will also offer a feed testing service, which will enable you to establish what nutrition is offered by the forage that you have available. They will also tell you if additional phosphorus and calcium supplementation is required, which is important for the growth and development of the foal's skeletal system.

It's important that the mare receives plenty of feed of high calorific value because her body will use her own fat stores and body tissues to provide the foal with what he needs for his development. If the mare consequently becomes weakened during her pregnancy, she can be left struggling to produce enough milk for her foal when he is born.

When the foal is born in the spring, good grazing is extremely important. A good dose of 'Doctor Green' will help the mare to regain weight lost during the pregnancy and will also boost the quality of her milk for the foal. Your local feed supplier will be able to analyse the herbage contained in the grazing that you propose using for your mare and foal. This analysis can show you whether additional supplementation is required or whether the grass alone will be sufficient for the growing foal.

For more information and advice about feeding your in-foal mare, have a chat with your local feed supplier.