Caring for a pregnant broodmare is not complicated, but it does require a bit more work and consideration than caring for any other horse.
Following our step-by-step guide should set your mind at ease if your broodmare has never foaled before, but if it any point you’re concerned about your broodmare or her unborn foal, be sure to contact your equine vet immediately.
1. Grazing and Exercise
Your pregnant mare should be housed in a large paddock for grazing and exercise, as this will become her home for the 8.5 months of pregnancy.
Your broodmare should also have constant access to water, shelter, and adequate fencing.
2. Ensuring Proper Growth of the Foal
If your broodmare is not given the appropriate amount of feed, nutrients, and water, the foal may be aborted owing to dehydration.
However, an overweight mare has a higher change of producing a foal with angular leg deformities, so be sure to give your mare light exercise throughout her pregnancy.
3. Vaccination Schedule of Pregnant Mares
Your pregnant broodmare will need to receive the pneumabort vaccination at 5, 7, and 9 months of pregnancy to prevent abortion from rhino. One month prior to the foal’s birth she should dewormed and receive the 5-way spring, rabies, and West Nile vaccinations. Depending on where you live, your broodmare may also require Potomac fever and botulism vaccinations.
4. Appropriate Nutrition
Her feed should consist of forage and foods rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins and a mare of approximately 15 hands should receive 7kg of high quality roughage per day.
It’s not necessary to keep a keen eye on your pregnant broodmare 24 hours a day, but she should be checked daily to ensure that the pregnancy is running smoothly. Don’t worry; you’ll still have time for slots NZ!
5. Feed Proportions
Horse are best described as ‘trickle-feeders’ and should have access to roughage at all times – feed only enough that your pregnant broodmare will eat and walk away.
Try to avoid feeding your pregnant broodmare in the morning and evenings without her having access to anything throughout the day.
If she doesn’t have easy access to pasture, feed her hay in a small-weave net to stretch the feeding time as much as possible.
6. Give Your Broodmare Attention
You should lunge your pregnant broodmare and groom her to ensure good blood flow and circulation. If your broodmare is used to plenty of affection and attention, she is less likely to be aggressive when her foal is born.
Top tip: handling her teats and her underbelly is a good idea as she will be less likely to prevent her foal from feeding if she is used to the sensation.
7. Birthing Preparations
In the last month of pregnancy, move your pregnant broodmare to a smaller yard where she still has freedom of movement, but is more protected.
Her feed should also be increased at this time, but it is not recommended that you add anything new as this could upset her system leading to colic.
8. The Last Stages of Pregnancy
- 2 weeks before birth: her belly will move from a hanging position to a position filling her flank area
- 1 week before birth: her udder may increase in size
- 4 days before birth: the foal will move into the birthing position
- 24-48 hours before birth: the broodmare’s teats will become waxy, the ‘caps’ may fall off and milk may trickle out
Top tip: you will most likely miss the birth of the foal as it usually takes place in the early hours of the morning between midnight and 5am.