Are Mares With Constant Forage Access More Fertile?

Conception rates were 47% higher in mares consuming forage continuously over 23 hours compared to those consuming the same amount of forage over 17 hours a day.
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Are you having trouble getting a mare in foal? Try ensuring she has constant access to forage. Recent study results suggest that broodmares appear to have better fertility levels if allowed to nibble on hay or grass continuously day and night.

In the study, conception rates were 47% higher in Arabian mares allowed to feed continuously over 23 hours, compared to those that had access to the same amount of forage but only for 17 hours a day, said Martine Hausberger, PhD, director of the Laboratory of Animal and Human Ethology, a branch of the French national research center (CNRS) and of the University of Rennes 1. Hausberger teamed up with Haifa Benhajali, PhD, of Tunis-El Manar University, in Tunis, Tunisia, for the study.

“Coming closer to the natural patterning of foraging behavior in horses may be an easy and efficient way of increasing reproduction in the domestic situation,” Hausberger said.

In the study Hausberger, Benhajali, and their fellow researchers followed 100 Arabian broodmares stabled at the Sidi Thabet National Stud near Tunis. All the horses received 10 kg (25 lbs) of hay and 4 kg (9 lbs) of barley daily. All the mares lived in individual stalls at night and had six hours of group turnout during the day. The researchers followed the mares during the breeding season, from April to mid-July. One hour each day was devoted to turning out the mares and bringing them back in

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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