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RU Pardner, RU Sebastian, RU Shivna, & RU Prodigal Son with a friend on the western plains
Photos by Victoria Hanke.
How to feed a draft/warm-blood mare and draft/warm-blood cross foal from pregnancy to post-weaning? I know that I need to be cautious about how I feed my mare while she is pregnant, but I also want to be as proactive as possible. Can you lend any advice on how I should feed her prior to breeding, while pregnant, and then how/what the mare and foal should eat once the foal is born?Answer:
Based on our 7 years of data on this type of horse my recommendations are:
1. Feed the mare good quality grass/legume mix (alfalfa/clover) hay, and in the last few months of her pregnancy feed a supplement designed for broodmares with extra minerals, but low calories. There are several on the market. You don't want her to get too fat.
2. Once she foals, offer her the same concentrate feed that you plan on using for the foal (see below) in amounts that maintain her body condition (for the draft mares that may be as little as a couple of pounds per feeding if the hay is free choice and good quality). This way if the foal "steals" her grain it is still getting a balanced ration.
3. For the foal, start creep feeding a feed formulated specifically for growth, (14 to 15% protein, added minerals), as early as 1-2 months. It should preferably NOT be a sweet feed. I recommend looking for some of the newer products that are higher fat/fiber.
4. READ THE FEED LABELS! There are some "growth" products out there that are designed to be fed without hay or pasture- they will NOT contain the right concentration of minerals if you limit feed them with hay or pasture! We have tested alfalfa based "Total mixed ration cubes" that were fed as the sole source of nutrition for two years now and they did exceptionally well, especially for the Perch/TB types. But the weanlings did not do as well on them if they had access to pasture too.
(Unfortunately the cubes are not available here in the east yet).
We are testing Nutrena SafeChoice this year, and in the past have used PurePride 300 and Nutrena Youth. There are other good products out there from other companies: Blue Seal, Southern States, Kentucky Equine Research based feeds, etc. Feed one pound per month of age per day divided into two feedings up to 6-7 months. Do not feed more than 3-4 lbs of concentrates per feeding, (6-8 lbs per day), after they are weaned!
If the foal is fat, (can't feel his ribs, deep crease down his loin, bulging fat neck),- cut back on the grain but do not completely eliminate it.
Watch for signs of epiphysitis, (enlargements just above the fetlock or knees), that is an indication that he needs fewer calories and more minerals.
DO NOT let anyone try to tell you that the recommendation above has too much protein-it is a well disproven myth. DO NOT feed a concentrate that is NOT formulated specifically for growth- just because it has 14% protein does NOT mean that it has the minerals needed for bone growth!
Equine Science Center
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