Developmental orthopedic disease can rob a young horse of his future as a sound athlete. Each year the consequences of diseases such as osteochondritis dissecans and physitis render hundreds, maybe thousands, of young horses structurally inadequate for the work they were bred to do. Over the last several years, researchers have found that appropriate nutrition of the gestating mare as well as her young offspring lays the foundation for proper bone development, thus sidestepping developmental problems and possible unsoundness.
The nutritional requirements of a broodmare can be divided into three stages based on stage of production. The first stage begins at conception and lasts through approximately the first seven months of gestation. Barren mares and pregnant mares without sucklings by their sides fit into this category. The second stage encompasses the last trimester of pregnancy, which is from around seven months of pregnancy through foaling. The final stage is lactation, a period that lasts four to six months after foaling. The most common mistakes made in feeding broodmares are overfeeding during early pregnancy and underfeeding during lactation.
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