weight on lactating mare - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-02-2013, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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weight on lactating mare

I have a 13yr old mare with 5 month old foal. She has lost weight and I worry. I am keeping the colt and don't have separate paddocks. I bought her not knowing she was pregnant so I was not prepared for this! I want to wean gradually and naturally for his sake but need to get weight back on my poor girl. What have you all found to be the best feed or way to keep weight on her? I have read if I keep her on Mare and Foal feed she will only keep the milk production high and if I take her off grain or switch her back to Safechoice her normal grain will she then lose even more weight? I am not getting the advice I want from my Vet so I am looking elsewhere. My vet charged me 150.00 to come out and do a nutrition assessment and all she did was call our local feed guy and ask his advice on what to feed her. I could have done that! The feed guy just quotes me whatever will make him the most money. He is not a nutritionist. I want to hear from someone who has had success in getting and keeping weight on a lactating mare. She currently gets about 6 quarts of Mare and Foal grain per day and free choice grass/orchard hay. She has a round belly from all the hay but poor topline. (I keep her wormed) Thanks so much!
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-02-2013, 10:49 AM
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Mares that are making milk will have a hard time keeping weight on if the foal is taking to much out of them. Before she can gain some weight you need to get the foal on his own. The milk production is pulling the weight of her. Once the foal is off her and her body knows it and stops making milk. She should start putting weight back on.
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-02-2013, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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My Mare

I should have added the foal eats hay and grain very well he just nurses because it's what foals do : ) He is in excellent shape I just worry about her. She is not real bad but a little ribby and her topline is diminishing. I do understand this happens but there has to be something I can do to help her while she weans him. I would post a pic but not sure how on here.
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post #4 of 5 Old 09-04-2013, 07:37 PM
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The way to get weight on the mare is to wean the foal. At 5 months, he's fine on his own. At 5 months, the milk isn't providing much nutrition either. After 5-6 WEEKS, the nutrients and energy in milk declines rapidly. A mare requires the most Mcals at 1 and 2 months (about 54 Mcals/day) At 5 months she needs about 48 Mcals and the colt needs about 25 Mcals. That's the equivalent of 10# concentrates and one 60# bale of grass hay. Even if she has a round bale in front of her 24/7, she might not be getting enough calories out of it. Her round belly is an indication that it's mature, high fiber hay and therefore lower calorie. I wouldn't up her concentrates but I would offer higher quality hay. Give her a few flakes of alfalfa (10+ pounds) a day. That's an additional 10 Mcals that are easy to get into her. The M&F will be higher in calories than the SC so as long as the colt is on her, keep her on the M&F. When you are ready for her to dry up, stop all grain for a few weeks.

It's a fallacy to think that the mare will naturally wean the foal on her own. Without another foal on the way, she will just keep letting him nurse. I have seen 3 year olds still nursing. Colts are harder on their dams in my experience. Get busy on building someplace to put him. Do you have a friend's to take the mare for a month?

The success in keeping weight on the mare starts in the last trimester. A mare that is a little plump before foaling is the best bet as most mares just can't consume enough calories when nursing. Most mares are going to be down 1-2 points (back to where they should be) no matter how much you try. At 5 months, the colt should be eating 5# of concentrates ON HIS OWN. Every thing he eats, is that much less he takes from the mare.
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post #5 of 5 Old 09-08-2013, 03:22 AM
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My mare is stll feeding her 9 month foal - we'll get around to weaning him some day but there's no hurry.

Merlot dropped weight at around the 4 - 5 month mark but she has regained it now and looks great. (you can see pics of both of them on The Zephyr Files right through from his birth till now)

Regarding feed - keep it simple.
Merlot gets, speedi beet and copra soaked with whole oats, linseed flake and oaten chaff. To this she gets 2 Tbsp SALT every day (vital for any horse) and a top quality vit and min mix. When she dropped the weight, we added amino acids which have made a huge difference to her topline.
I am not an advocate of early weaning as I think the foal learns so much from his mother, but I understand your concern about her weight.
Finally don't despair if she is a little ribby as this is better than being too fat and she will, once he is weaned pick up again

Hope this helps

The Zephyr Files
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