Pregnant mares are very similar to pregnant people; they need special care when it comes to what they eat. A mare not only needs to be kept fat, but needs to eat healthy enough to keep up her own weight as well as the weight of the unborn foal.
The following are tips and guidelines for taking care of a pregnant mare:
- Know the mare’s weight. This will be used to determine the amount of hay and grain that she will need. If she needs 20 pounds of feed each day, it needs to be split into at least 2 different feedings during the day. Digestive problems, like colic, can be fatal if fed too much at one time. When the mare is eating, only feed her enough so she will eat and walk away when full. Enough hay needs to be provided so she can eat when she wants to.
- The mare will need a large enclosure near a stable for exercising and grazing. This will be the home for the mare for the first 8 months of the pregnancy. It needs to have proper shelter, a water facility and a fence that the mare cannot get stuck in. The upcoming months for the mare are vital for the foal’s growth. If the mare does not have proper nutrients, water and food, the foal could be aborted because of dehydration or other natural causes. When there is a month left until foaling, move the mare to a yard that is a smaller so she can run around, but is more sheltered and fenced for protection.
- A good quality of grain needs to be fed to the mare, at least 10 to 12 percent protein. Feed stores have a good grain mix or pellet feed that has all the proper nutrients needed. Some pellet foods are more easily digested and horses tend to like the grain mix better. This is the time that the amount of feed will need to be increased, but do not add anything new as it may upset her stomach.
- In the last 2 months of pregnancy, change her feed to one that has 12-14 percent protein. She will need to be fed more, unless she starts to become overweight.
- Pregnant mares need good quality hay. It needs to be available to the mare all day; roughage can account for 80% of the diet of a pregnant mare.