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Preparing the pregnant mare...Pt2
Preparing the pregnant mare...Pt2

More on the pregnant mare's conditioning, etc.

I hope the last article on conditioning the pregnant mare was of benefit.  It is almost equally important that the mare not be overweight as it is that she not be under conditioned.

 The thin mare may not have the strength to give that extra push needed to move the foal’s shoulders through the pelvis during the foaling process.  We know she will produce a smaller and often weak foal.  The thin mare may be slow to come to her milk and certainly will not produce as much milk for the duration of the nursing period as the conditioned mare.  She will be more difficult to rebreed with a foal by side as energy shortage is an acknowledged cause of absorption and early abortion.  The thin nursing mare will require significantly more feed intake to maintain herself, produce milk for the foal, and have enough reserves to maintain an early pregnancy.  It may be very difficult to feed the nursing or even the late term thin mare enough to correct these problems.  If you have a pregnant mare that has become thin over the winter and you can feel the hardness of her ribs, please contact us.  We can make some suggestions which may include a change in the density and quality of the feed.  Other items such as the mare’s teeth and parasite load should also be considered.

 The obese mare, on the other hand, can have enough fat deposits in the pelvic area to crowd the foal during delivery.  The obese mare is usually not physically in good condition, which can also contribute to a difficult delivery.  If this is the mare’s first foal, it is an acknowledged fact that excessive accumulation of fat in the udder results in reduced milk production.

If your mare is obese, late pregnancy is not the time to reduce her weight by restricting her feed intake.  She should still receive four pounds of grain during the last six weeks of pregnancy to provide the protein, vitamins, minerals, and the quick energy of carbohydrates to feed the rapidly growing foal.  However, you can remove a great deal of weight while the mare is nursing.  If you can keep from increasing the daily feeding, nursing will melt the fat away. Ideally, by the time the foal is weaned you will be able to feel the outline of the ribs even though there will still be a soft fat cover over them.  The obese mare during pregnancy will usually be an easy keeper, and as soon as the foal is removed she will regain most of the lost weight.  By allowing her to lose weight during pregnancy you will not have to restrict the mare's intake as drastically between foals.

Of course fat is beautiful on our horses, and none of the above is really news to any of you.  If we did not dwell on the overcondition of our patients, many of you would think we were not paying attention!  The longer it takes for the horse of any age to become overweight, the longer it will be before we have to resort to extreme measures.  That is why we should take every opportunity to take weight off, such as with nursing.  This way we can avoid the extreme measures of confinement and medication to avoid obesity-related problems later.

Now you can use some of the time saved by not feeding as much, to contact the owner of your chosen stallion.  Along with finding out about the health requirements they have for incoming mares, as well as the breeding, chute (handling), and daily mare care fees, you may want to find out if they ship cooled semen.  Artificial insemination allows you to keep the mare and foal home and have the semen come to you.  We will have more information on this approach in upcoming articles.

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