5 Tips for Feeding Lactating Mares

Lactating mares’ nutritional requirements increase drastically in order to maintain weight while providing nursing foals with enough critical nutrients.
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lactating mare
High-quality hay and grass should remain the basis of a lactating mare's diet. | Photo: iStock

Do you get tired just watching your new foal gallop around his pasture? Try supplying him with enough energy and nutrition to allow him to frolic and play all day! Lactation is one of the most physiologically demanding stages for broodmares. Their nutritional requirements increase drastically in order to maintain weight while providing nursing foals with enough critical nutrients.

Lactating mares have the highest nutrient requirements during the first three months of lactation. These requirements decrease as their milk production decreases—in both quantity and quality—during the fourth through sixth months post-foaling.

If a lactating mare’s diet is restricted, she will sacrifice her own calorie, protein, and mineral stores for milk production. In severe cases an undernourished broodmare can suffer weight, muscle tone, and bone loss. Thus, it’s crucial to provide lactating mares with enough feed to sustain both themselves and their growing foals. Here are five tips for meeting mares’ nutritional needs during lactation

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Kristen M. Janicki, a lifelong horsewoman, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky, studying under Dr. Laurie Lawrence in the area of Equine Nutrition. Kristen has been a performance horse nutritionist for an industry feed manufacturer for more than a decade. Her job entails evaluating and improving the performance of the sport horse through proper nutrition.

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