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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

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Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

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 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Help with re-formulating horses diets

Hello again Dr. Getty!!

I wrote to you earlier this summer about my two mares. One is 23 and she suffered from weight loss and the other is my 8 y.o. broodmare who is currently 190 days pregnant with her first foal.
You were of great help to me concerning my horses diets and I'm back with some more questions!!!

Unfortunately, I was not able to work with my mare's boarding stable manager as well as I had hoped. Supplements I had bought them were not given (Necessity) and after my old mare gained back about 80% of her previous weight, her grain was cut back to her pre-weight loss level of about 1lb per feed and she was again left with the herd for dinner (and not getting all of it!).

This has of course prompted me to find a new barn to move them to. The new barn manager knows of both mare's situations and seems willing to work with me on their nutritional needs. This barn feeds straight oats and an alfalfa/burma (? spelling) grass mix hay. If I want them on anything else, this is not a problem as she will feed what the owner wants

My questions:
Should I keep the old mare on her Buckeye Maturity senior feed or switch her to straight oats? The Maturity certainly helped her gain back her weight, at least at a bigger helping per feeding. Now that she is back down to about 1lb per feed she is only "maintaining", if not possibly losing weight again. If I keep her on the Maturity, obviously I would slowly bump her back up to the 3lbs a feed she WAS getting. If I put her on oats, how much? Any supplements to add to this? My plan was to keep my pregnant mare on her current sweet feed (another Buckeye product). My vet feels straight oats will not give her the nutrition she needs in the final 3 months of her pregnancy and rather then switching her to oats and then switching her back, to just leave her where she is. She is of good body weight although I get concerned I really can't see much pregnant belly (but I don't know if I'm suppose to be or not!!). You had mentioned starting her on Mare Plus and I was wondering if I should do that now, or wait until her last 90 days (seeing as thought she's going to remain on a fortified sweet feed). Now that I know they will finally GET their supplements, I'm eager to know what would be best for them.

I'm excited about their move and hoping this puts a period at the end of this rather long, drawn out problem with my old mare. She is a very young 23 and I truly believe this is all a matter of too little "groceries" then her age!!!

Thanks again Dr. Getty!

Where are you from? Wisconsin

How did you locate this forum? Google search

Re: Help with re-formulating horses diets

Hello Kim,

So nice to hear from you again! I’m sorry you’ve had difficulty with your barn situation – and I’m very pleased that you chose to find a different facility.

OK, let’s talk about your 23 year old first... I would definitely keep her on the Buckeye Maturity diet and not switch her to plain oats. She was doing so well on the Maturity before she started losing weight. So, since you do not have to feed her plain oats at this new barn, go back to your original plan. And, if you can give her the Necessity supplement, that would be even better.

About your pregnant gal …. I agree with your vet about not changing her diet. Keep her on her current feed. Plain oats will not give her all of the nutrients she needs and it will also provide her with too much plain starch (which is potentially harmful to her bacterial flora in her digestive tract). And, yes – go ahead and start her on the Mare Plus now.

It is not unusual for a maiden mare to show very little belly. During her last 90 days, she will put on ½ to 1 pound of weight a day! So, you will see change – I promise! Kim – I strongly recommend that you get hold of “The Complete Foaling Manual,” by Theresa Jones. It is, in my opinion, the best foaling guide out there. I’ve read several and this one makes it very simple to understand what to expect and how to be the best prepared for the foaling event. Please take a look at the book’s description on my website.

During her last 3 months, since she will be gaining so much weight, she will require more calories. So, increase her feed gradually, including her hay intake.

Please keep me posted as her time gets nearer and let me know if I can answer any questions. Your instincts are great – I’m really happy that your new barn manager will allow you to feed your mares in a way that’s in their best interest.

Great visiting with you again,

Dr. Getty

Re: Help with re-formulating horses diets

Hi Dr. Getty!!
Thank you for the prompt response! I am counting down the hours until their move (which is tomorrow at noon!!). It's been very hard sitting on this for the last week knowing that there was light at the end of the tunnel but it had to wait! I hope everything can still turn around and my old girl can recover again. This new barn owner seems nice and especially knows her stuff when it comes to broodmares!
On a good note, I think we saw the baby move today! The pregnant mare moved off by herself (which is not a good sign for her-usually means she's sick) and me and my friend went to follow her to check her out. She ate her treats with the usual vigor, LOVED her scratching and her tummy rumbled. All appeared well except she kept glancing at her sides. My friend thought she saw the baby move so had me look too and sure enough, we saw a little "thump" from inside her!! Having had 4 kids myself, I can't think of what else it could be! I'm sure it's strange for her!
Thank you again, you are a great help! I will hopefully not be writing again except to tell you that the baby is born! I have ordered the book you recommended and it's coming for Christmas. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU!!