I think that you should be upping the quality of nutrition that she's receiving. As it is now, it sounds like you're feeding her "a flake" of hay twice a day, and a "scoop" of grain. You need to be feeding by weight, not volume. I understand that this can be confusing, so here are 10 basic rules of feeding:
1. Feed little, often |
2. Feed plenty of forage
3. Don't make sudden changes to a horse's diet
4. Feed according to work, temperature, and living conditions
5. Keep feed buckets and scoops clean
6. Provide a clean fresh water supply at all times
7. Don't work a horse right after feeding it
8. Feed each horse as an individual
9. Feed at the same time every day
10. Always have a salt source available
So first and foremost, you need to understand a bit about nutrition. I'll start there.
There should be at least two parts to your horse's diet: roughage and concentrate. Your horse's diet should consist primarily of roughage, which is all hay, grass, etc. It's important that they're receiving at least 1-2% of their body weight in roughage. Concentrates will be your grains, oats, and, well, concentrated feeds. Concentrates can be extremely beneficial, but it's important to feed according to directions. For example, if you're feeding Equine Senior and you're only feeding one scoop (approx. 2-3 lbs) per feeding, but the directions say you need to be feeding 10 lbs per feeding, then your horse is NOT getting the sufficient amount of nutrients.
There are several ways of measuring feed, including a feed scale. The easiest way, however, is to use a standard bathroom scale. You stand on it and weigh yourself, and then take the feed and stand on it with it. If you're using a bucket to measure this feed, then weigh yourself with the empty bucket, etc. You should be doing this every feeding, especially with hay, because the weight of a flake will vary so much bale-to-bale. How much you feed should depend on your horse's weight and the amount of work that they're doing. Because she's pregnant, she will need more feed than average.
Alfalfa, and other green, leafy roughages are very important to the horse's diet. They're the primary source of Vitamin A, without which your horse could develop many extreme health issues. Some people believe that alfalfa makes their horses "hot," which is not necessarily true, but you'll have to form those opinions on your own, I suppose... Anyways, it may be a good idea to feed a mixture of both grass and alfalfa hays. Alfalfa tends to keep the weight on Mudpie, my very hard keeper. Mudpie consumes 13 lbs of alfalfa per meal.
As for concentrates, I'd recommend trying a bit of a combination. Look into feed for lactating mares and foals, like the ones manufactured by Triple Crown
, or LMF
. Feed according to the directions on each of these. These are NOT replacements for your standard feeds, but would be a good addition to support her. Rolled oats, barley, and other grains are also good options.
An especially good idea for you would to feed beet pulp and/or wheat bran. You soak these feeds, and feed them wet. Pelleted rice bran is also a really great idea. Bulky feeds are a GOOD thing, and you'll want to feed lots.
ALL of this should be fed by weight, not volume. When I say that, I mean, for example, 3 pounds, not one scoop.
Even though she's not too far along in her pregnancy, you're going to want to build her up as much as is possible. Pregnancy takes a lot, and, especially as she progresses, you need to start feeding for two – because, fundamentally, that's exactly what you're doing.
The next subject I'd like to cover would be supplements. Because she's both underweight and pregnant, there's going to be a lot of essential nutrients that she's lacking, or needs more of. The kinds of supplements I'd recommend would be overall-health supplements, broodmare supplements, etc. When feeding anything to a pregnant mare, you need to make sure that it's safe for her. Some supplements may not be safe for such purposes, so it's important to make sure that it's approved. I don't know what her issues are right now, or where she needs extra support, but I would recommend SmartOmega 3
, which has miraculously improved Mudpie's coat and overall health, in only 28 days! It's a good product for their wellness, and I was absolutely floored by the results. Another good choice may be Mare Plus
, to the extent of supporting her through gestation and lactation.
It's also important to make sure that she's got a salt source. Some people add electrolytes to their horse's feed, but as long as she's got a block available at all times, as well as fresh, clean water, that will be absolutely fine. Give her the opportunity to have both a mineral lick and a plain white salt lick, so that she may pick and choose. They'll manage themselves pretty well. If you find that she's biting off big chunks, or that the blocks are melting in rain, try a Himalayan Salt Block
. They don't dissolve in the rain, and your horse can't bite off big chunks (which can cause choke). Mudpie loves them, and gets all the salt he needs from them. At first, he went through them extremely fast, but now they last longer for him, and he still gets all the salt he needs.
Next, you're going want to make sure that she's on a rotational dewormer schedule, involving dewormers approved for pregnant mares. You'll still want the variation, but it's important. A pretty typical schedule is once every 3 months. It's extremely important to keep the mare thoroughly dewormed. Not only is being wormy bad for her, it can kill the foal before it even has a chance.
Also, you'll want to make sure that she's properly vaccinated, and talk to your vet about the vaccinations she'll need throughout pregnancy. In addition, regular vet checks will be important.
Assuming that she's an "average" horse, who weighs anywhere from 900-1000 pounds, here's a very viable feed schedule:
| A.M. |
12 lbs Alfalfa/grass mix
3 lbs Pelleted Rice Bran
8 lbs LMF Development
12 lbs Alfalfa/grass mix
6 lbs Oat hay
5 lbs Wheat Bran, soaked
5 lbs Beet Pulp, soaked
1/2 lb Rolled oats
1 scoop Mare Plus
1 scoop SmartOmega 3
Himalayan Salt Lick, free choice
Now, I don't know how much this horse actually weighs, or what her specific needs are, but that is a good start to what her diet may need. A big thing I'd like to express to you is that you need to feed each horse as an individual. Each horse has unique nutritional needs, so one blanket feeding style just won't cut it.
:) Keep us updated!