Feeding The Mare and Foal
Horses evolved to eat fibre, so feeding a Fibre Feed from the Dengie range couldn't be more natural. It is sympathetic to the horse's digestive system and has the added benefit of taking longer to chew than concentrates. It also provides good levels of quality protein and a slow release energy source to support growth and development.
Feeding the Pregnant Mare
The mare's dietary requirements will alter during pregnancy, however the diet should be balanced at all times. This means it is important to pay careful attention to what you feed your mare from the point of conception onwards.
It is quite acceptable for a pregnant mare to continue working during the early stages of pregnancy. For mares in work, one of the products from the ALFA-A RANGE fed alongside Dengie Natural Vitality Performance Vits & Mins or Dengie ALFA-A BALANCER would be suitable. For mares kept in groups it can be impossible to feed them individually. A good quality vitamin and mineral lick such as Dengie FIELD LICK, which comes in a 20Kg block, can be a practical way to provide nutrients to complement a forage based diet.
The last three months of pregnancy is when 60% of foetal development occurs and so the mare’s requirements increase in order to support this growth; it is estimated that her energy requirements increase by up to 20% above maintenance at this time. Protein, calcium and phosphorus requirements also increase as the foetus develops, and trace elements are also vital in late pregnancy. If you have a mare that holds her weight easily it is likely that she won’t require many additional calories and so a supplement such as Dengie Natural Vitality Performance Vits & Mins or balancer such as Dengie Alfa-A Balancer, alongside ALFA-A ORIGINAL, may still be sufficient. For mares that require a higher energy diet to maintain their weight, Alfa-A Oil or Alfa-A Molasses Free can be used. The high content of Alfa-A Oil means that the energy level it contains is equivalent to a traditional stud mix.
Feeding The Lactating Mare
Mares in early lactation have a greater requirement for dietary energy than at any other time in their reproductive cycle. Mares that foal very early or very late in the season usually require extra feed as the quality of the pasture is low and therefore makes less of a contribution to the mare’s requirements. Most mares in early lactation produce about 3% of their body weight in milk per day; for a 550Kg mare that equates to 16-18Kg of milk.
At this stage it usually becomes necessary to increase the quantities of feed to prevent weight loss in both the mare and foal. ALFA-A OIL contains as much energy as a Stud Mix and so can make a significant contribution to the mare's requirements. In addition, soaked Alfa-Beet can be added to provide more energy from highly digestible fibre. If a more concentrated source of energy is required, cereals can be added such as bruised or rolled oats. A good quality supplement or balancer should be fed alongside to ensure the diet is balanced.
DOD (Developmental Orthopaedic Disease) in young stock can be caused by a number of factors including genetics, conformation and nutrition. As far as nutrition is concerned, the highest risk diet is one that is high in cereals and low in minerals as this creates a rapid rate of growth without the building blocks to support it. Youngstock that carry too much weight are also at risk as extra strain is placed on immature joints.
Exercise has an important relationship with bone development. Research suggests that better bone mineralisation occurs in youngstock allowed free choice exercise such as at pasture, compared to stable kept horses. Stronger bones should help to reduce the risk of injuries both during developmental stages and when working as a mature horse.
To try and reduce the risk of DOD an alfalfa based diet can be used. ALFA-A OIL provides the energy and quality protein to support growth and development without the cereals that are thought to be linked to DOD and are found in traditional stud feeds.
Feeding the Foal at Weaning Time
It is important to introduce feed to the foal prior to weaning as this allows the foal to become confident eating from a bucket by copying the mare. The feed should be introduced gradually and built up slowly so that by the time weaning occurs, the foal is consuming the recommended amount of feed. This should help to reduce weight loss and subsequent disruptions to the growth rate as the supply of milk is withdrawn.
Weaning is a stressful time for the foal and this can result in digestive upsets such as loose droppings. It is advisable to try and reduce the risk of problems by adding Dengie Natural Vitality Digestive Health Plus supplement to the ration. Natural Vitality Digestive Health Plus combines probiotics, prebiotics and yeast to help create a healthy digestive tract and promote efficient utilisation of feed. It is particularly useful for foals with loose droppings but can be of benefit to any individual that is in poor condition.
Feeding the Mare After Weaning
Once the foal has been weaned from the mare, feed should be removed until her milk supply has dried up. Once this has occurred the type of feed she requires will be determined by her future vocation and her condition. If she needs to put on weight then conditioning feeds such as ALFA-A OIL can be used. If the mare is pregnant again and in good condition then a supplement alongside ALFA-A ORIGINAL would be suitable.
What is Alfalfa?
Alfalfa is a member of the legume family along with peas, beans and clover. It has been fed to horses for thousands of years due to its high nutritional value. It is an excellent source of digestible fibre as well as minerals such as calcium, vitamins and quality protein. It is therefore an ideal feedingstuff for horses, particularly broodmares and youngstock.