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

   Welcome to my forum. 

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

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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protein requirements last trimester mare

Hello Dr. Getty,
I have a QH maiden mare who is due to foal @ 4-12-06. I am feeding her 8 lbs. Nutrena Youth per day (split into 3 feedings.) It is a 16% protein feed. About once or twice a week I give her a cup of whole soaked (overnight) flax seed (Should I be grinding it up & then soaking it?) She gets pretty much all she wants of good quality coastal hay. She doesn't particularly like the Youth feed, she prefers the 14% protein Safe Choice that I'm feeding the other horses. I also give her Mare plus twice a day and she has a salt mineral block. I was going to start feeding her Milk Plus but I read that too much protein can cause leg problems in the foal. Should I not feed the Milk Plus now? How about adding it when the foal is born? I also keep reading about giving them abran mash after the foal is born... isn't that a quick change of feed that we are told to never do?
Thank you so much for your time and expertise!

Where are you from? Texas

How did you locate this forum? Thersa Jones referred me

Re: protein requirements last trimester mare

Hi Lynette,


I would suggest that you slowly switch her over to the Safe Choice for two reasons. One, she likes it better. But, two, and more importantly, it's carbohydrates (starch) that causes bone deformities in foals, not too much protein. Safe Choice is much lower in starch than the Youth feed.

And, go ahead and give her the Milk Plus rather than Mare Plus, but don't give both. This way, you can stay with one product after the foal is born, for both her and her baby.

About the flaxseed -- yes, it needs to be ground. Feeding it whole, even after soaking it, does not allow the meal to be available to her since the hulls get in the way. Also, feed it every day, not just once or twice a week in order to be consistent. Feeding it every few days can potentially cause problems because the bacterial flora in the hind gut are not used to the presence of this feed. So, you can very safely add 1 cup per day, split into three meals.

A bran mash after the foal is born is not necessary and frankly, the "comfort" aspect is more for us than for the mare. And, you have the same issue of adding something that she is not used to having. Instead, have a hay bag nearby for her to enjoy -- it should be in her stall so she doesn't have to leave her foal.

Alfalfa is a good addition to her diet at this stage -- adding a flake to her daily routine will provide her will round out her protein quality and provide the additional calcium she needs. And, she may really enjoy it after the foal is born.

Also, after the foal is born, her energy needs increase even more than while she was pregnant, so you will need to increase her feed, flax, and hay to keep her healthy.

And finally, instead of a mineral block, give her a plain white salt block. She needs salt but the Milk Plus provides the other minerals she needs. Make certain she licks it. If not, you'll need to add plain salt to her feed. This is important for adequate milk production.

So, don't be concerned about her protein -- she needs extra high quality protein. Starch is the culprit, so a low starch feed, plenty of hay, flaxseed meal (you may want to look at Nutra Flax since it is stabilized and lasts a long time without going rancid), salt, water always available, and the Milk Plus -- that will do her just right!

Keep me posted!! I assume you got Theresa Jone's book? It's a must have.

Happy Foaling!

Dr. Getty

Re: protein requirements last trimester mare

Thank you, I am already making the changes... of course slowly on the feed. Jackie (my mare ) is glad about the Milk Plus since she wasn't crazy about the Mare Plus either. Thank you again for you help.

Where are you from? Austin Texas area

How did you locate this forum? Thersa Jones referred me