California Riding Magazine • June, 2013

Ask the Vet:
Broodmare Due Any Day

by Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA

My Trakehner brood mare is due March 15. She is 11 years old and in good body condition.

I would like to know if I need to change her feed ration. She gets 7 lbs of Southern States Legends Performance textured, 1 lb of Triple Crown Senior and one scoop of Daily Omega Plus. Will not eat more. I just took her off the grass and she gets first cutting alfalfa hay, free choice.

I have her on the 10% fat feed because she has trouble keeping her weight up. She will not eat rice bran or other high calorie supplements, I tried several. Please let me know if I need to change anything. Thank you so much! Gabriele

Dear Gabriele,

As a Trakehner owner myself, I know how wonderful these horses are. You must be very excited! One thing jumps out at me from your question, and that is the fact that she receives free choice alfalfa hay. Please speak with your local veterinarian and nutritionist about this, as certain health conditions (for example enteroliths) have been linked to an all-alfalfa hay diet. While I love this legume as a forage, she might be better off with a mix of alfalfa and grass hay.

The next fact I noticed was that she gets one pound of senior or complete feed. Certainly this category of product is great for older horses who may not be able to tolerate traditional roughage anymore, but senior feeds are very, very dilute in terms of nutrients (energy, protein, vitamins and minerals). You may want to just cut this out of her diet completely since it’s bulky and taking up valuable intestinal tract space that should be reserved for more concentrated feeds.

While we’re on the topic of grain, I looked up the fortified grain you’re feeding and it’s designed “for mature horses in moderate and intense performance or show activities.” Since you’re already having trouble keeping her weight up--plus the first few months of lactation are going to be an even bigger energy drain on her system--I recommend you gradually switch to a more concentrated product, one specifically for pregnant and nursing mares.

In addition, research suggests supplementing with active live yeast such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae can improve feed efficiency. That is, certain digestive support products can help horses extract more out of the feed they are already being given. Talk to your veterinarian about adding a supplement with yeast, probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes and other ingredients. Best of luck on a healthy foal!

Article provided by SmartPak.
Dr. Lydia Gray is the Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak, where she guides research and new product development, answers questions on her Ask the Vet blog, and speaks around the country at various events such as Equine Affaire, Dressage at Devon, and the USHJA Trainers’ Symposiums.