Learn about feeding your broodmare during lactation with the help of Nutrena and Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
The broodmare needs proper nutrition during lactation so she can produce adequate milk for her foal. It’s also important for maintaining her body condition so that she’ll re-breed successfully and safely carry her next foal. With the help of Nutrena expert Roy J. and Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can learn about feeding the broodmare during lactation.
Changes in the Broodmare
As the broodmare transitions from the last month of gestation to the first month of lactation, she has substantial increases in requirements for protein, lysine, minerals and digestible energy. For an 1,100 pound mare, the following increases occur:
- Her digestible energy requirement goes from 21.4 Mcal per day to 31.7 Mcal per day
- Her protein requirement goes from 630 grams to 1,535 grams per day
- Her lysine requirement goes from 27.1 grams to 84.8 grams per day
- Her calcium requirement goes from 20 grams per day to 59.1 grams per day
- Similar increases occur in other amino acids and minerals
Her feed intake needs to be increased to meet those nutrient requirements. If not, she will produce milk by using her body stores for energy, amino acids and minerals, causing weight loss and body condition loss, as well as mineral loss.
Increased Feed Intake
To meet her increased digestible energy requirements, you’ll need to gradually add 7.5 pounds of grain containing 1,364 calories/lb to her diet post foaling. During this time, she can also consume more dry matter so she’s actually able to eat more feed and more forage. Added lactating mare feed will provide more energy, as well as those other important nutrients. Be sure to give her unlimited access to fresh, clean water as well as quality forage.
“Every Other Year” Mares
If your broodmare continues to lose weight, she’s less likely to cycle normally during lactation. That makes her less likely to become pregnant and carry a foal the following year. Some mares are “every other year” mares, and produce a foal every other year instead of each year. These mares typically produce large foals and milk heavily during lactation. Because of this, they don’t maintain body condition. When they take a year off, they can gain weight and come back into the breeding season healthy and breed successfully.
The mare’s nutrient needs will start to decrease around the third month of lactation, and gradually decrease until the foal is weaned. Remember to monitor the body condition of the mare and the foal to get the best results. For more tips on caring for your horses, visit our Hobby Farming blog.