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By Mike Barrett, PAS, ADM Equine Specialist
If you ask most individuals which horse works harder – the performance horse or the broodmare – most will answer the performance horse; no brainer. However, as you think of the “job” the broodmare has to do, the task is unending. She must maintain her body condition, grow a foal in uterine, and produce milk for the foal running at her side.
Traditionally, breeders have focused on broodmare nutrition the last three months of gestation and during lactation. Then, they turn them out with little attention paid during the largest portion of the time they are doing their “job” – growing a foal. A new focus on foal development has surfaced as we continue to push younger horses to perform at higher levels. Typically, the needs of the mare and foal during lactation and the last third of gestation are easily met. This is also the time a commercial feed designed for broodmares is fed.
However, once her foal is weaned, most broodmares are turned out to pasture for the next four to five months to graze, regain their sanity, work and grow the foal in uterine, with only a salt block at best for supplementing the forage diet. During this time, the mare may not need the added calories present in a commercial broodmare feed, but she does need more vitamins, minerals and protein than grass can provide. If proper dietary supplementation is not provided, this time of essential nutrient demand will set the mare up for added stress as she does her “job” and force her to short the foal of needed nutrients as well, which may lead to problems later in the foal’s life. The solution: provide a high-quality, free-choice vitamin, mineral, protein supplement in the pasture. Ideal products are ADM’s PRO-VITA-MIN™* Tubs or GROSTRONG®* Minerals which help ensure the broodmare has all the “tools” she needs to do her “job.”
For more information on ADM’s equine products and programs, log on at www.ADMequine.com or call 800-680-8254.
*Trademarks of Archer Daniels Midland Company.