Dr. Dennis Sigler
MFM Horse Nutrition Specialist
As winter approaches, it is vitally important to not only consider your horse’s protein and energy intake, but mineral needs also should be evaluated. This is especially true for pregnant broodmares. Proper nutrition of the developing foal, in utero, is a key component of the total nutrition program for your horse herd. Scientific research has shown that mineral supplementation during the last 3 months of pregnancy can help reduce the incidence of developmental orthopedic disease in young horses.
Calcium and phosphorus are major components of skeletal tissue of the developing foal. It is vital that adequate Ca and P be provided to the mare during late pregnancy and early lactation. The recommended daily intake of Ca and P for the mare in late pregnancy is 36 grams of Ca and 26 grams of P. The recommended ratio of Ca:P in the total ration needs to be between 1.4 and 2.0. Since forages contain much more Ca than P and both of these minerals are usually severely lacking in late Fall and Winter forages, supplementing with a high-quality mineral with a 1:1 Ca:P ratio is recommended throughout the year, but especially during these crucial winter months.
MFM XL HORSE MINERAL or MFM 12:12 LIVESTOCK MINERAL can be provided free-choice to pastured horses to meet their Ca and P needs as well as trace mineral needs such as copper, zinc and manganese. Consumption should average between 3-5 ounces per day. If horses have not previously been on a mineral program, consumption will be much greater, even as much as 8 to 16 ounces, for several days until they catch up on their mineral needs.
Maintaining proper mineral balance, as well as good body condition, is a key management practice for pastured broodmares. By practicing good nutritional management during late gestation, horse producers can assure optimum health and skeletal development of the new-born foal in the Spring.