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Hungry PG Mares...How Much?!?

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clpclop

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My two mares (ages 8 & 9) are pregnant for the first time. They are due next April and May. When they were being bred, they were on pasture all day and then fed alfalfa hay in the evening. Their diet before breeding was 1/2 flake each of Timothy in the morning and Alfalfa Oat pellets in the evening. Coming back home, we're just giving them Alfalfa hay only, and about 1 hour of pasture (our front yard) grazing in the evening.

The question is...will Alfalfa Hay only, be okay? Is 1/2 flake each AM & PM enough or too much? The breeder said no vitamins or supplements are necessary.

Thanks in advance for any input!
 

capall beag

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I can't imagine that 1/2 a flake of hay am and pm would be enough??

I give my mares 2 cups of hunter pellet, 1 cup of charger sweetfeed, 1 1/2 cups of boss am and pm. They also get beetpulp, one full bucket when soaked between 4 and hay, about 1/2 flake am and pm.

None of my horses are heavy, 2 are pregnant.

I don't know if this will be much help. It is so hard to know what they need. This is the most I have ever feed a mini BUt they were in rough shape when I got them and they look really good on this!

There were some really helpful old threads, if your look them up.
 

Robin_C

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A hay-only or even a grass-only diet may indeed provide enough calories to keep weight on any horse, if the hay and/or grazing are in sufficient volume. However, what may be lacking are the necessary vitamins and minerals, and even more importantly a balance of the correct vitamins and minerals. Without a hay and/or pasture analysis, achieving a correct balance may be impossible, so it then becomes necessary to try to cover your bases. An all-forage diet is perfectly fine if the mare can maintain her condition with that; however, in order for her to receive maximum nutrition, at the very least a mineral supplement should be provided with special attention to selenium levels/vitamin E if you live in a selenium deficient state. Calcium:phosphorus ratios are also a concern with the all forage diet, particularly in a pregnant mare.

Horses in the western part of the US are commonly fed an all-alfalfa diet, so that in itself may not be a problem. Minis tend to obesity, however, and the all-alfalfa diet may provide too many calories (and calcium) if not fed correctly. All horses should receive a minimum of 1% of their ideal body weight in long-stem forage (hay or grazing) per day for proper gut health, so hay should be weighed rather than measured in "flakes" or "half flakes". The rule of thumb for pregnant mares is to feed maintenance quantities until the latter part of the term when the in utero foals are building their own weight, thus drawing more from the mare. The term "maintenance", however, may vary by individuals and would depend on the mare's metabolism. Some easy keeping mares might require only 1% of body weight, while others might require the more average amounts of 1.5-2% of body weight, while some might require as much as 3% of their body weight in feedstuff per day to maintain body condition. An overly fat broodmare is not necessarily a healthier broodmare, though most breeders tend to like their mares "fluffy", especially towards the end of term in preparation for the caloric demands of nursing.

An average sized miniature mare weighing in the 200-250 lb range would require a minimum of 2 lbs of hay per day (1% of body weight), and maybe as much as 6+ lbs (3% of body weight) on the high end. This would need to be balanced, at the bare minimum, with a legume (alfalfa) balancer mineral which contained more phosphorus than calcium. There are several good products on the market which would fulfill this need.

Robin C
 

Miniv

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Read Robin C's post carefully......She is the guru of horse nutrition around here.

The first thing I would do is weigh your flakes of alfalfa or whatever hay you are feeding. Every supplier of hay bales a little differently, so flakes can vary in size.

Our flakes average about 4 lbs each, so on average we feed each mini a half flake AM and PM. Our mini Shetlands are a little bigger so they each get a whole flake. We also are allowing each group pasture time. Now that I've said that.....we are just finishing baling up our OWN home-grown hay for the first time! The fellow baling it for us is doing 65 to 70 lb bales. This means I will be checking the weight on these new flakes all over again.

Another thing to do research on is good brands of vitiman and mineral supplements for your region. Talk to your vet and also your feed store about what may be lacking in the soil in your area.

You are being a good mini mom!

MA
 

Becky

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Excellent advice given here!

I won't add anything except I would definitely consider adding a diet or ration balancer to your hay diet (as Robin C mentioned). That's what all of my horses are on, and I am very pleased with the results. I might add that in the past, I had been plagued with leg problems in some of my foals. Since switching to a quality diet balancer (protein, vitamin, mineral supplement) a year and a half ago, my foals are coming out with perfect legs! They get that along with alfalfa pellets and pasture or hay.
 

clpclop

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Robin and others...thank you so much for this info. It's extremely helpful and I will start weighing the hay. My other question is that we are using 1/2 Timothy and 1/2 Alfalfa. Is this appropriate?
 

Miniv

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Timothy is one of the preferred grass hays......I think you're going to do fine.

MA
 

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