Prenatal Care

The mare must be in good health to carry a foal to term. Nature prevents mares in poor health from cycling and conceiving normally.

The mare should be at her ideal weight prior to breeding. Your veterinarian can help with routine dentistry to promote proper digestion. Producing a healthy foal requires the mare to eat and digest substantially more calories than an idle, open mare.

Your veterinarian can recommend vaccinations depending on which diseases are common in your community. Parasites can be controlled with a combination of safe and effective dewormers given at appropriate intervals, good hygiene which removes infested manure, and periodic fecal exams to check for resistant parasites.

After breeding, the mare’s nutritional needs do not increase significantly until the 7th month of gestation, and they continue at this increased level through nursing until the foal eats significant calories through grazing or feeds. Besides an increase in calories, vitamin A is very important for the broodmare, especially during colostrum production. Vitamin A is found in good quality hay and green grass, which vary in availability based on geographic location and time of year. Minerals – especially calcium and phosphorous, but also copper and zinc, are important in the skeletal development of the foal. Grass hays and alfalfa have significantly different levels of minerals, so supplementation with the appropriate mineral balance, based upon the forage being fed, is required.

Viral abortions occur in mares, and vaccination at periodic intervals throughout pregnancy prevents most cases. Boostering your mare with all routine vaccinations approximately 30 days before delivery will fill her colostrum (first milk) with antibodies to protect the newborn foal while its own immune system is still immature. The foal is able to absorb these antibodies only within the first few hours of life, so timing is critical. Failure to receive these antibodies on time, either due to poor colostrum or inability of the foal to suckle, will require a transfusion of antibody rich plasma to protect the foal.

The mare should not be strenuously exercised as she grows heavy with foal, but she should be allowed to exercise at will in a large paddock. House pregnant mares together. If there is only one pregnant mare, be sure her companions aren’t aggressive towards her as she nears term. She will need strength and endurance to deliver her foal. Obesity can impair delivery if fat is deposited in the birth canal.