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Pryde’s Top Tips for the Breeding Season

Updated: Apr 18

Here's a Mighty Helpful piece from Fernvale Produce Mitre 10 to help you get the most out of looking after your horses feeding and condition.


Broodmare and Stallion Nutrition

There is no doubt that nutrition plays a critical role during the breeding season with broodmares and stallions requiring the correct amounts of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals for their own maintenance, optimising fertility and for the development of the fetus and foal.



Ensuring these requirements are met does not need to be complicated. In this article we hope to give you some tips to ensure optimal nutrition throughout the breeding season.


Monitor Body Condition

Body condition scoring evaluates the level of fat cover on a horse and is indicative of energy intake and storage of extra energy intake as fat. This makes it an effective way to evaluate whether broodmares or stallions are receiving an adequate, excessive or an inadequate energy intake. It is recommended that both broodmares and stallions are maintained at a body condition score (BCS) of 5-6 (on the Henneke scale of 1-9), which is a moderate to moderate-fleshy cover of fat. This is the optimal weight to help maximise fertility and provides a buffer of stored energy that the horse can utilise as they undergo changes throughout the season. It is important to continue to monitor BCS so that the appropriate feed rations can be selected, and necessary adjustments made.


Understand energy and protein requirements

The energy and protein requirements of stallions is going to vary between individual stallions, based on their breeding frequency, level of exercise, housing, and temperament. So, it is important to evaluate this on an individual basis. However, in general stallions have similar requirements to horses in light – moderate work and require a diet higher in energy and protein than a horse at maintenance.


Nutrient intake of pregnant mares needs to meet their own maintenance requirements and the nutrient needs for the synthesis and maintenance of the products of conception. In early gestation, energy and protein intake does not need to be much higher than maintenance as most fetal growth occurs during the 3rd trimester of gestation. The energy and protein requirements to fuel this growth begin increase above maintenance in the 5th month of gestation and continue to increase throughout the rest of gestation. Early lactation is the most nutritionally demanding period, and it is important that mares energy and protein intake is increased to allow them her to meet the needs of lactation whilst maintaining her own body stores. If energy and protein requirements are not met, mares will generally mobilise their own body stores to produce milk, which can result in weight and muscle loss. However, their bodies will only do this to a certain point and if requirements are not met this will begin to reflect in the foal’s growth and development; with studies showing that foals of mares fed a low protein diet were smaller at 90 days than the foals of mares fed a high protein diet during lactation. Ensuring an adequate BSC and protein intake during lactation is also of higher importance if the mare is being rebred within 30 days post-partum, as mares with BCS of less than 5 have a reduced reproductive efficiency.

The additional energy and protein supplied in the diet is very much dependent on pasture quality and quantity. As with any other horse, forage should form the basis of breeding horses’ diets. Stallions and pregnant mares on high quality, abundant pasture may have majority of their energy and protein requirements met by pasture alone and only require a vitamin and mineral supplement. While those on lower quality pasture will likely need supplementation with a higher quality hay as well as additional supplementary feed to ensure requirements are met. For mares in early lactation pasture alone is rarely enough and a daily supplementary feed is necessary to meet requirements. It is important to continue to monitor pasture quality and quantity alongside body condition scores to ensure adequate intake.


Protein quality within supplementary feeds is also an important consideration. High quality protein sources – proteins high in digestible essential amino acids such as soybean are essential for muscle maintenance and repair in stallions, for the adequate growth and development of the fetus and for milk production and composition in the lactating mare which corresponds with healthy foal growth and development.


Ensure adequate vitamin and mineral intake

Meeting the vitamin and mineral requirements of breeding stallions is important for general health but also helps to support fertility and joint health. Studies have suggested that deficiencies of Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium and B Vitamins in a stallion’s diet affect sperm production and/or sperm quality. A diet balanced with vitamins and minerals also helps to support joint and bone health which are placed under added strain during breeding season.

Ensuring a balanced diet in breeding mares is essential to ensure adequate growth and development of her foal. For example, foals born to mares deficient in copper have a significantly increased risk of articular cartilage scores and worse physitis scores compared to foals born to mares fed sufficient copper during pregnancy. Studies have also shown that foals born to mares deficient in iodine may be weak with a poor suckle response and can have flexular limb deformities. Maintenance of adequate vitamin and mineral intake is also important if mares are being re-bred within 30 days post-partum as studies have suggested that vitamin and mineral deficiencies may affect reproductive rates.


Pasture and hay alone do not meet the vitamin and mineral requirements of horses at maintenance, let alone a breeding stallion or pregnant mare. Therefore, supplementation with a vitamin and mineral pellet or fortified feed is necessary for these requirements to be met. Mineral intake from a trace mineralized salt block or mineral block is likely to be erratic and is unlikely meet their requirements, hence a ration balancer pellet is recommended. The added benefit of a ration balancer is ensuring that essential amino acid requirements are met if protein quality of the pasture is lacking.


When selecting a feed, it is important to select one that has feeding rates similar to what your mare or stallion requires or to make use of a combination of a full feed with a balancer pellet (found in the ‘Keep it Balanced section’ on our bags and website) to ensure adequate vitamin and mineral intake.


Below are some balanced diet recommendations for mares and stallions:

Mares in early gestation and stallions with lower activity or needing to lose weight



Mare early gestation (500kg example)

Lower activity stallion (600kg example)

Constant access to good quality pasture

Or 8-10kg of hay and pasture

Constant access to good quality pasture

Or 9-12kg of hay and pasture

1kg Balancer pellet e.g., 200 Dry, 200 Lush or High Cal depending on pasture type

1.2kg Balancer pellet e.g., 200 Dry, 200 Lush or High Cal depending on pasture type


Mares in late gestation and stallions in higher activity

Mare in late gestation (500kg example)

Higher activity stallion (600kg example)

Constant access to good quality pasture

Or 8-10kg of hay and pasture

Constant access to good quality pasture

Or 9-12kg of hay and pasture

1.5-2.5kg EasiFeed Two

Or 2.5-3.5kg BioMare or EasiBreed

1.5-2.5kg EasiPrep



0.5-1.2kg ReBuild may be beneficial for promoting optimal fertility with high amounts of antioxidants and omega fatty acids and for muscle building and weight gain.


Mares in early lactation and stallions with high activity that struggle to hold weight

Mare in early lactation (500kg example)

Higher activity stallion struggling with weight (600kg example)

Constant access to good quality pasture + lucerne hay

Or 10-12kg of hay and pasture

Constant access to good quality pasture

Or 9-12kg of hay and pasture

3-5kg BioMare or EasiBreed

2.5-3.5kg BioMare Cubes, EasiBreed or EasiResult

½-2 cups EasiOil may be beneficial to increase energy intake without increasing feed volume

¼ -2 cups EasiOil may be beneficial to increase energy intake without increasing feed volume


0.5-1.2kg ReBuild may be beneficial for promoting optimal fertility with high amounts of antioxidants and omega fatty acids and for muscle building and weight gain.



Pasture quality and quantity may also range throughout the season, any of the Pryde’s full feed or concentrate range if fed under the recommended feeding rate can be fed in conjunction with a balancer pellet to maintain appropriate body condition score while ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake.

The above diets are general recommendations, it is important to consider each individual horse, their body condition, pasture access and environment to determine nutritional requirements. For a complete diet analysis and recommendations for your stallions or mares please use our free feed selector or get in contact.


References:

Lawrence, L. M. (2013). Feeding stallions and broodmares. Equine applied and clinical nutrition: health, welfare and performance. R. J. Geor, Harris, P.A. & Coenen, M. Edinburgh, Saunders/Elsevier: 231-242.

National Research Council. (2001). Nutrient Requirements of Horses. Washington, D.C., The National Academies Press.



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