With the breeding season well underway in the Northern Hemisphere and the passing of St Valentine’s Day, Thoroughbred mare owners are considering their stallion choices carefully.
At this time of year, the focus is on the mare ensuring she is in optimum health for foaling down and has the nutrients required for lactation to satisfy the new born and rapidly growing foal but let’s not forget about the ‘boys’ – Stallions too, in this busy covering period, will have additional nutritional demands.
FEEDING THE STALLION:
First of all, stallions whether in competition or solely at stud need to be fit and agile. There is an increased energy demand in the region of an extra 20MJ/day as well as an additional 165g/day of Protein during the covering period. So too does the demand for minerals and vitamins increase. Vitamin A is directly involved in sperm product but as it is a fat-soluble vitamin deficiency is rare. Vitamin E supplementation has been noted to increase fertility and has strong antioxidant properties. Thus, a diet matching the Macro nutrient requirements to the stallion depending on temperament and activity levels as well as being supplemented with a Vitamin E source such as TRM’s VITA E PLUS which has the added benefit of B Vitamins, Lysine, Selenium and Vitamin C will keep Stallions in full vitality for the mating season.
If an ‘All- round’ Multivitamin supplement is desired, be sure to provide a balanced supplement that contains additional quantities of all vitamins, without excessive amounts of any, to maintain optimum health and reproductive ability. SPEEDXCELL will provide 20 key nutrients that will bridge the gap between the increased nutritional requirements of ‘working’ stallions and an environment that, at this time of the year, supplies low levels of vitamins and minerals from natural sources.
FEEDING MARES DURING LATE PREGNANCY:
The greatest in utero foal growth and nutrient demand occurs during the last trimester. Providing the mare with high-quality forage and a feed designed for pregnant mares will provide her with the bulk of her nutritional requirements. However, don’t neglect Vitamin E levels for broodmares in the final weeks of the last trimester. Depending if your mare has access to good grass and what additional feed she is receiving, will determine her nutrient requirement. Good-quality grass is a rich source of vitamin E, calories, and protein. However good grass is not too easy to come by at this time of the year and hay is nota source of vitamin E. Therefore, horses (regardless of reproductive status) on hay-based diets or poor pasture need supplemental vitamin E.
Vitamin E passes from the mare to the foal via colostrum, which the mare makes during the last weeks of pregnancy, mares on hay passed diet will benefit from Vitamin E supplementation at this stage. Feeding VITA E PLUSwill ensure that broodmares receive a concentrated source of vitamin E as well as Vitamin C, with the additional benefit of the essential amino acid to fortify young growing stock.
Minerals including calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and manganese are essential to support the rapid rate of bone development of the in-utero foal. The prevalence of developmental orthopaedic disease (DOD), including osteochondrosis dissecans and physitis, can be high in foals. An epidemiological study reported an overall prevalence of DOD of 60% amongst Thoroughbreds, Warmblood Breeds exhibited the highest prevalence of DOD (80%) compared to Standardbreds (63%) (Lepeule et al. 2008). Whilst the underlying risk factors for DOD are complex, nutrition, in terms of mineral availability and balance, is known to be critically important (Mcllwraith 2005).
The foundations for a horses’ skeletal health and future athletic success can be established before it is even born. Ensuring broodmares have an appropriate intake and balance of macro-minerals, trace minerals, and amino acids in the diet to pass on to the foal, both in utero and following birth via the milk, is critical. CALPHORMIN gives young horses the best start they can get, initially through supplementation of the mare, and latterly by feeding directly to foals and youngstock. Continuing to feed young, rapidly growing horses CALPHORMIN helps to maintain optimum growth and bone development.
FEEDING LACTATING MARES:
At foaling, a mares daily nutrient requirements increase significantly. The lactating mare requires more protein, energy, calcium and phosphorous in a larger amount of feed in order to recover from foaling stress, to produce milk and to prepare for the next covering. Underfeeding of mares during early lactation will lower milk production and cause weight loss as well as delays in rebreeding times and lower conception rates. A lactating mare will require between 2 – 3% of her body weight in total feed daily. Including additional fat in the diet such as CURRAGH CARRON OIL can increase the fat content of milk which will aid in the growth rate of nursing foals as well as ensuring the mare herself does not suffer significant weight loss. As with the late pregnant mare, the time of year and availability of ‘good’ grass will dictate the feeding regime. Continuing to supplement with VITA E PLUS and CALPHORMIN as described above will assist in healthy foal development and quicker recover for the mare ensuring she can visit the stallion sooner.