Mare Nutrition Could Affect Foals’ Future Athletic, Reproductive Performance

Foals from mares undernourished in late gestation had modified bone growth and slowed testicular development, while foals from overnourished mares had a higher osteochondrosis rate.
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broodmare nutrition
Researchers recommend owners keep mares in moderate body condition by feeding plenty of high-quality forage, plus concentrates and vitamin and mineral supplements as needed. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

We know that a pregnant mare’s diet and nutritional status can affect her foal’s growth. But recent study results suggest the effects can be far more long-term than previously thought. So long-term, in fact, they can even impact the foal’s future performance.

“The quality of the nutrition of both mares and foals is essential to optimize chances of athletic and reproductive performance in adulthood,” said Morgane Robles, PhD, of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research’s French Institute for Horses and Equitation, in Jouy-en-Josas.

Robles and her fellow researchers continued their FOETALIM project that focuses on the short-term and long-term effects of gestational environment on a foal’s future (read more about FOETALIM studies from 2015 and 2017 on In this phase of the project, they explored two diets’ impact on 24 pregnant Anglo-Arab mares. They fed half the mares forage only and the other half concentrated feeds and forage

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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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