Feeding the Estrous Cycle: Tailoring the Mare’s Diet

Mares must have a well-balanced diet and healthy body condition to cycle properly and conceive and carry a foal. If adequate nutrients are not accessible to the mare as stored body fat or available in the feed, she will not cycle.
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Tailor your mare's diet and carefully monitor/address her body condition to maximize her chances of conception.

Mares must have a well-balanced diet and healthy body condition to cycle properly and conceive and carry a foal. According to equine nutritionist Tania Cubitt, PhD (Performance Horse Nutrition), nutritional management is a simple, cost-effective tool to ensure normal estrous cycles and optimum pregnancy rates. If adequate nutrients are not accessible to the mare as stored body fat or available in the feed, she will not cycle.

Importance of Body Condition

A common mistake some owners make when they decide to breed a mare is not planning ahead–they make the decision to breed at the last minute. At this point, pregnancy might not be feasible if the mare is too thin or too fat. "Owners need to be proactive and get the mare in proper body condition first," says Cubitt. "If her body condition score (BCS) is somewhere between 5 (moderate) and 7 (fleshy) on the Henneke scale (see TheHorse.com/pdf/nutrition/bcs.pdf), there's a much better chance of getting her pregnant

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Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses and Storey’s Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog, www.heathersmiththomas.blogspot.com, she writes a biweekly blog at https://insidestorey.blogspot.com that comes out on Tuesdays.

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