Feeding the “good doer” broodmare...without adding more weight.
What is a “good doer” broodmare?
"Good doer” broodmares are the hardy types who seem to bloom on the scent of grass. Being unable to feed these horses a calorie rich breeding mix raises its own concerns –Is my broodmare getting what she needs for internal health? Is she getting what she needs to grow a foal?
Why the feed needs of a broodmare change
Regardless of metabolism, every broodmare’s needs change depending on their stage of pregnancy, combined with what they can get out of the pasture. The “good doer” broodmare may not need all the calories that come with a feed mix for breeding horses. At the very least they won’t need to be fed at the rate recommended on the packaging. This creates a nutritional gap.
The recommended feeding rate on a product’s packaging takes into account the overall vitamin and mineral requirements. If you feed less than what is recommended, then there’s a shortfall in nutrients. Put simply, your broodmare is not getting the benefit of the product.
This scenario doesn’t mean you feed at the recommended rate no matter what body score your horse is showing – Far from it. But it does mean you need to look at overall diet balance and consider bridging the gap in nutrients with a supplement.
|Hygain® Balanced® is a pelleted all-round, low dose balancer feed concentrate that provides high levels of Vitamin E and Selenium for cell health, Biotin for hoof and coat health, Chelated Minerals, quality protein and essential amino acids for muscle development.|
Taking care not to over-supplement
There are many quality supplements on the market, however adding any supplement to the diet needs a cautionary note about over-supplementing. Whilst many vitamins and minerals have no known consequence when fed in excess, that’s not the case for all vitamins. Twice as much is not twice as good!
If your "good doer” broodmare is on pasture alone then you’re considered safe with adding an appropriate supplement. But if your broodmare is having a split diet between a fortified broodmare feed PLUS an additional supplement then it’s sensible to make yourself aware of the ingredients. Additional supplements might throw off the balance you’ve worked hard to achieve in your broodmare’s diet. Further to this, you may be providing nutrients excess to your broodmare’s requirements that do not get absorbed by the body (effectively wasting money).
For extra confidence you can get in touch with an equine nutritionist to guide you in this journey.
Weight and the “good doer” broodmare
So far we’ve only referenced the “good doer” broodmare as being a horse that holds condition without needing to be fed at the recommended rate. But further along the scale we have broodmares who nudge into the overweight category. Being overweight carries increased health risks for any horse, but it’s of particular concern for broodmares.
If your broodmare’s body score indicates she is overweight then it’s time to look at safely reducing calories to return her to a better body score. Gradual methods of weight reduction are gentler on the horse’s body. You don’t want to “turn off the tap” of nutrition! Look for ways to reduce or limit the horse’s access to lush pasture and replace roughage with low sugar alternatives such as Teff, Rhodes grass or lucerne hay. Reduce the current hard feed quantity by replacing with a more suitable option.
Signs of nutrient deficiency in the “good doer” broodmareIf you’re seeing a dull coat, brittle hooves or overall lethargy, then it’s time to run a health check. First, consult your veterinarian to rule out any other concerns.
If the changes are related to pasture decline then it’s fairly easy to incorporate a vitamin and mineral supplement into the diet. Better yet, get ahead of any drop-off in nutrients by feeding an appropriate supplement before outward signs appear.
Feeding for healthy mares and foalsEvery broodmare is an individual with varying needs. By giving your “good doer” broodmare a diet that meets her specific requirements you are on your way to achieving the ultimate result - a healthy mare and foal. Together with your veterinarian and equine nutritionist, you make a great team.
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