Feeding a pregnant mare? And other first timer questions

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clipclop101

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While this is not my mare's first foal, it is our family's first, so I am sure I will have *lots* more questions! Right now our minis are on a pretty basic mixed grass hay and a ration balancer. I hear that fescue should be avoided. So what hay should I feed? (And how do I tell if ours has fescue in it, though I would bet it does) If/when would I change feeds from the ration balancer?
While I am at it, do you deworm/vaccinate your pregnant mares? She's had her spring shots and we vaccinated for strangles since she was going to the stud's farm for a time. But are there any extra vaccinations needed or should be avoided? Is it safe to deworm while she is carrying?
I'm sure I will have more questions, but I think that should do for now 😅
 

chandab

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Talk to your vet about appropriate vaccinations during pregnancy for your area.
Yes, most dewormers are safe during pregnancy, plain ivermectin is usually very safe.
If you horse is an easy keeper, it's quite possible the ration balancer will be just fine for the whole pregnancy and perhaps even lactation; but some increase will be necessary to cover the higher nutritional needs of late pregnancy and lactation. Some drop profound weight during lactation and need more than a ration balancer with their forage to cover their caloric needs.
Yes, avoid fescue during last trimester. If you can't find guaranteed no fescue hay, try places like TSC for commercial compressed grass hay bales (Standlee has timothy bales and grass/alfalfa bales).
 

Standards Equine

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So fescue itself isn't of any danger to horses. It's a fungus that grows on infected fescue. The only way to know if it's got the fungus is to get it tested. It gets infected by planting infected seeds. If you have certified no-fungus fescue, it's good to feed. But there's plenty of information on that. Yes, it does pose a higher risk to pregnant mares and foals.

I like to ensure their vitamin and mineral needs are taken care of. I like to support with a broodmare/foal supplement. It's important to ensure your mare doesn't get too heavy that she struggles during delivery or causes a potential for laminitis, but that she has sufficient to ensure no deficiencies in her developing foal. Breeding the littles scares me. I don't plan to do it. Breeding the big guys is hard enough!
 

LostandFound

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I don't believe you can have your hay tested for fescue. Even if you did, it's a mix and you would have to get lucky enough to test that part. It's almost impossible to see in the hay, but if it's cut late you can look for seed heads. It is just the endophyte in the tall fescue but over half of tall fescue is infected. Your best bet is to ask your hay guy. He knows what he planted, and if he used an endophyte free mix or no tall fescue at all, it's good. If not, call everyone else who sells hay.
 

chandab

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Unfortunately, when it comes to fescue, even if you plant endophyte free seed, if there is any infested fescue in the area it can contaminate that which started out endophyte free, perhaps not immediately, but eventually, so I personally wouldn't risk it for broodstock (fine for non-breeding equines).
 

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