When Winter Brings Stiffness

Many of us experience noticeable body stiffness in cold weather. It should be no surprise that horses do too.

Your horse doesn’t have to be a  senior or have pre-existing problems to develop winter stiffness – although those things can certainly make it worse. There are even horses that function quite well in the warmer months but have so much trouble with the cold that they may find themselves unable to get up from the ground without assistance.

Research has shown us the effects of cold on a variety of body tissues.  Muscles reflexively become shorter and stiffer, to the point that forceful stretching may cause damage.  Energy generation is compromised because hemoglobin does not give up its oxygen to the muscles as easily as it does in warm weather.

Cold also alters the properties of tendons and ligaments.  Flexibility decreases and the force required to passively move these ‘frozen’ joints may increase by as much as 25% with cold exposure. The reduced flexibility is accompanied by considerable stiffness.

The changes in muscle and tendon contribute to difficulty with moving the joints but there are changes in the joints themselves as well.  Cold has been found to increase sensitivity to joint pain. Cold may also interfere with the normal flow characteristics of joint fluid, reducing lubrication.  Cold can even increase the expression of genes coding for inflammation.

The first step in mitigating the effects of cold on your horse is to keep him as warm as possible.  That means shelter from winds and wet weather.  If you have a horse that obviously suffers with stiffness don’t hesitate to blanket.  While some joints are inaccessible, you can use Neoprene wraps for the knees and hocks with lined shipping boots on the lower legs.

Exercise is a great way to loosen things up and improve muscle function but you need to be cautious.  Stiffened tissues are damaged more easily and the horse may not be moving normally if certain areas hurt more than others. Known problem areas will benefit from a few minutes of brisk massage with a warming liniment before exercise. Allow extra time for a long slow warm up.

Joint support supplements can also be very helpful. In addition to the joint nutraceuticals glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid, look for MSM, Boswellia, Turmeric, Devil’s Claw and other antioxidants.

There can be a big difference between surviving and thriving in cold weather.  If your horse is struggling with cold-induced stiffness, take action.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

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Iodine and Your Horse

Iodine is probably the most ignored of all elements essential for your horse’s life. The requirement is very small, only a few mg a day, but deficiency in foods is widespread all over the world.

An iodine requirement is our legacy from the sea.

When life left the iodine-rich oceans for land, reliance on iodine came with it. Iodine is a volatile element and levels in soils decline with exposure to weather, leading to significant deficiencies in many areas on earth. Fish, shellfish and seaweed are good sources of iodine but most land-based foods are low. What is available concentrates in foods essential to new life – eggs, milk/dairy, some beans and grains.

Whether a concentrater food or not, iodine levels are still heavily dependent on soil content. Beans and grains grown in deficient areas will also be very low in iodine. Sufficiency can only be assumed for foods grown close to coastal areas.

The body uses iodine to  make thyroid hormones with each molecule of thyroxine (T4) containing 4 iodine and each triiodothyronine (T3) having three.  Most of the body’s iodine is concentrated in the thyroid gland. Although details remain unknown, iodine is also required for normal immune responses.

The most obvious external sign of iodine deficiency is goiter – a swelling of the thyroid gland. The horse’s thyroid sits high in the neck, straddling the trachea (windpipe).  When there is iodine deficiency, the gland enlarges to allow it to trap more iodine.

Pregnant mares and growing horses are the most sensitive to iodine deficiency and have higher requirements. In addition to goiter, signs include reduced fertility, abortion, prolonged gestation in mares. Foals are born weak with tendon and bone deformities, hernias, poor muscling, altered mental status and may need to be euthanized.   Hypothyroid adults show lethargy, low heart rate and poor coat with delayed shedding.

Interestingly enough, excessive iodine intake also leads to goiter and hypothyroidism. This is called the Wolff-Chaikoff effect. The details of the mechanism are unknown but believed to be related to high iodine causing suppression of enzyme systems in the thyroid.  In addition to the hypothyroidism signs above, excess iodine causes heavy tear formation and skin rashes.

The average size adult nonpregnant horse needs 4.5 to 5 mg of iodine/day. Pregnant, exercising and heavily lactating animals need at least 1 to 1.5 mg more.  Feed and supplement manufacturers use highly concentrated forms of iodine like EDDI to manufacture iodine supplemented products in bulk but owners supplementing iodine for individual animals also have access to seaweed based supplements with a known iodine content. It is NOT advisable to feed seaweed with an unknown iodine level as toxicity can easily occur.

Tiny requirement but huge effects for iodine. Make sure it isn’t overlooked in your horse’s diet assessment.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

 

 

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Growing Horses in Cold Weather

Hoof growth isn’t the only thing that slows down in cold weather. The growth of young horses can too [Onoda et al 2013, 2014].

Several studies have now documented a slowing down of growth rate in the winter with a compensatory surging catch up phase the following spring.  Winter weather is a physiological stress, and apparently one severe enough to make the body stop allocating nutrients to growth and conserve them for survival.

Winter growth restriction doesn’t permanently stunt the horse’s development but there is concern about the effects of the rebound growth the following spring. This is because a variety of types of developmental orthopedic disease in young horses have been linked to rapid growth.

The young stock studied have been horses being raised on pasture at locations all around the world. They are not feral horses so not being subjected to extremes of near starvation. Researchers feel the root cause of the arrest of growth in winter is loss of pasture. What nutrients are they missing in this scenario?

When a horse goes from fresh grass to hay, digestibility goes down. This can be  counterbalanced simply by feeding more so what else is changing?  Interestingly enough, a major alteration is in the fat level.

The natural equine diet is low in fat, but winter conditions cut that low level drastically, by at least half.  For every 5 kg (11 lbs) of hay the young horse eats they are consuming 100 grams less fat than from an equivalent amount of fresh pasture. This is analogous to 3.5 ounces of pure oil, or 10 to 12 ounces of a full fat seed meal like flax.

Fat is the most dense source of calories, and also the easiest to digest. When replacing this lost fat, at least 50% of the fatty acid make up should be the essential omega-3. You can additionally use highly palatable oils like coconut and high oleic acid forms of sunflower oil which will not disrupt the essential fatty acid balance.

Protein also drops precipitously, and amino acid deficiencies make it impossible for the body to efficiently utilize the dietary protein.  If unsure of the protein level in the diet it is wise to provide approximately 100 grams/day of supplemental protein.  All growing horses should  get at least 10 g of supplemental L-lysine and 3 to 4 g of methionine for essential amino acid coverage.

Vitamins and minerals are the last base to cover. All vitamin levels are lower in preserved  forages compared to fresh pasture. There are particularly high losses of vitamins E, C, and A.  B vitamin activity can also decline with time which may be an issue for young horses with an immature microbiome which is a major source of B vitamins for adults. Mineral levels are very low in old pasture. Good quality hay will have a better mineral supply but both pasture and hay often need balancing and supplementation, especially for young horses.

A good solution for protein, vitamins and minerals is a 25% protein supplement geared toward growth with a widely compatible mineral balance and full spectrum vitamins. Feed at one pound per  day to safely insure against deficiencies.  Pair this with fat replacement to help compensate for the seasonal nutritional challenges which may impact the growth of young horses.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

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Vitamin Concerns in the Winter

Your horse’s vitamin needs don’t really change in the winter – but the supply available from the diet does.  This is because there is a big  difference between fresh grass versus hay and also because hay vitamin levels decrease with time. The main vitamins of concern are A, E and C.

Full blown vitamin A deficiency is rare but suboptimal levels of this important antioxidant can negatively impact fertility, vision, skin health, cellular division and the immune system.

When hay has reached 6 months from cutting it will begin to show significant drops in vitamin A. At this point the horse’s diet should contain around 10,000 IU of supplemental vitamin A (less for ponies, more for large breeds). By the time the hay is a year old, supplemental levels should increase to 20,000 IU/day.

While vitamin A is vital for health, it can also be toxic in excessive amounts. Limit the dose of vitamin A from all sources to 40,000 IU/day for an average size horse.  Many feeds and supplements have added vitamin A so check labels.

Vitamin E is another important antioxidant which becomes incorporated into the membranes surrounding cells as well as the cellular machinery inside them, like the mitochondria which generate energy. Vitamin E plays a strong protective role in muscle and the nervous system, as well as the immune system.

Vitamin E content in hay is very low and drops quickly. An average size horse should get at least 1000 IU/day with evidence to suggest best immune system function is from 2000 IU/day. Horses with muscular or nervous system issues may be prescribed more. Vitamin E is best absorbed if mixed directly into some oil before feeding.  Vitamin E is nontoxic even at high doses.

We’re all familiar with the benefits of vitamin C for the immune system but it has other important functions. Vitamin C is concentrated in the adrenal glands, where stress hormones are produced. It is necessary for the formation of collagen, which forms the framework for bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and the connective tissue which gives structure to all tissues throughout the body. Vitamin C deficiency interferes with healing.

While horses can manufacture enough vitamin C to avoid having full blown C deficiency (scurvy), when eating fresh grass they get large amounts of vitamin C and levels in their body drop drastically in winter or when they are stalled and fed hay. A reasonable level of supplementation is 3000 to 10,000 mg per day.

Higher doses of vitamin C can cause diarrhea. The vitamin itself is not directly toxic but it can increase the absorption of iron so keep dosages on the low end in older horses, horses with equine metabolic syndrome or any horse known or suspected to have iron overload.  Combining low dose C with other sources of water soluble antioxidants such as bioflavonoids and grape seed meal is a safe way to provide protection without high doses of vitamin C.

These key vitamins are relatively inexpensive to supplement and a good way to help your horse stay healthy and vibrant all winter.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

 

 

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Adaptation to Cold Weather

Your horse’s body may be doing a lot more to prepare for cold weather than just growing a winter coat.

Przewalski’s Horse

I recently read a very interesting study on Przewalski horses, a primitive breed, that shows there are seasonal influences which are independent of calorie intake or environmental temperature: https://jeb.biologists.org/content/209/22/4566.long .  Many of our easy keeper/EMS prone breeds may retain these mechanisms for coping with cold which would lead to overfeeding them if we automatically increase calorie intake for cold.

This always leads to questions about whether we should let our horses go through a natural weight gain and loss cycle by essentially starving them seasonally. I personally don’t think this is any healthier than when humans see-saw their diet and weight.  In the natural environment their bodies are so stressed by winter that their organs actually shrink – and some die. The “natural” cycle is geared toward one thing – survival – and secondarily to breeding and survival of the fetus. We don’t have to go to that extreme.

One interesting finding though is that metabolic adaptation to winter isn’t totally a reflection of poor quality diet in winter (see the last paragraph of that article). Metabolism begins to slow down in advance of winter and feral animals eat less even if provided with more food. We may need to adjust caloric intake lower in winter rather than higher. However, this German study found that reduced metabolic rate in ponies in winter was largely associated with underfeeding https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28689503

It’s also interesting that in many animals insulin resistance is part of their winter survival strategy. It even occurs in people https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23235713 . In horses, insulin response to glucose is affected by season https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28701287 . There were no convincing seasonal changes in intravenous combined insulin glucose test responses in normal horses in southeastern USA https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22594619 but have to wonder what effect the warm climate might have been having since there are many observational reports of erratic insulin readings in cold weather. This study found insulin highest in October in grazing horses in NE USA https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30911753 (colder months not studied).

I’m not sure if any conclusions can be drawn from all of this but points to consider are:

A.  The presence of IR in an animal may reflect a more primitive energy metabolism, geared to survival (the “thrifty gene” theory)
B.  Increased IR may be part of the survival mechanism in cold weather, along with a programmed reduction in basal metabolic rate that precedes the onset of cold weather (??? timing aligns with the seasonal ACTH rise ???)
C.  For the very IR horse/primitive breeds we may need to restrict sugar/starch more stringently in fall and winter, possibly even calories as well if the animal is not being exercised to force a higher metabolic rate. If the horse is shivering, put on a blanket rather than increasing food!

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

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Winter Foot Pain in Metabolic Horses

Veterinarians working with many laminitic horses are well acquainted with the problem but others may be unfamiliar with it.  It’s a laminitis-like syndrome triggered by cold weather.

Horses normally have a very high tolerance for cold.  In all species, cold causes a reflex shunting of blood away from the extremities and toward the core to limit loss of body heat. Healthy horses prevent the hoof from being damaged by low blood/oxygen supply with the use of local arteriovenous shunts – pathways which allow them to divert blood quickly back to the veins for return rather than sending it to the local tissues. When low blood supply reaches a critical level, the arteriovenous shunts to that part of the hoof can close, reperfusing the tissue.

The only adverse effect of cold weather and reduced blood flow to the hoof in healthy horses is slower hoof wall growth. In horses with metabolic issues that result in high insulin levels, it may be a different story.

We don’t know all details of the mechanism but it is clear from research that high insulin can cause laminitis. We also know that even if they have never had a full blown laminitis episode there are similar abnormalities in the structure of their laminae. One thing we do know about it is that levels of endothelin-1 are greatly elevated. This is a chemical in the body which causes blood vessels to contract down. It has also been shown that the vessels in the hoof become more sensitive to other messengers that cause contraction. These changes may interact with cold induced blood vessel constriction to cause a critical interruption of blood supply to the hooves of those horses.

Horses with cold induced hoof pain show obvious lameness and often typical laminitis stance but without bounding pulses or heat in their feet. In milder cases it may be mistaken for the sensitivity to moving over frozen uneven ground that all horses show. However, it doesn’t go away on level surfaces. There is variability in individual sensitivity to cold but signs may appear beginning at 40F [4.4C].

Even horses that usually have their insulin well controlled by a low carbohydrate balanced diet can be susceptible. This may be because cold weather has also been observed to often cause wide swings in insulin levels and/or because of previous damage to the circulation in the feet.

The first step in helping these horses is protecting their extremities from the cold. Leg wraps such as lined shipping boots work well and are safe to leave on because they won’t slip out of place and cause uneven pressure on the tendons [aka “bandage bows”]. Boots with pads and socks or fleece lining are essential.

The horse, pony or donkey can be supported nutritionally by supplements which encourage the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vessel dilating messenger that is the natural counterbalance to endothelin-1.  The herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Jiaogulan) is a powerful support for nitric oxide. This is helped by providing the precursors for nitric oxide in the form of L-arginine and L-citrulline. Antioxidants also combat oxidative stress which inhibits the activity of the enzyme that produces nitric oxide inside blood  vessels [eNOS – endothelial nitric oxide synthesis].

Winter laminitis has historically been regarded as very difficult to manage but understanding the vascular issues has led to significant strides in helping these horses balance the forces affecting the blood supply to their feet.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

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Stewardship

It’s been over 5 years since I posted this blog, and about 20 years since I wrote it initially, but some things just don’t change.

The definition of stewardship has not changed since 1913 – “responsibility for taking good care of resources entrusted to one”. We have the responsibility of stewardship for our children, our heritage, our natural resources, and also our horses.

There is no question that any horse choosing to do so could overpower a human and gain his/her freedom. It is only by the horse’s cooperation that we can ride, drive, even touch a horse. When we accept the horse’s willingness to be used, we also accept stewardship.
This is a very different thing from ownership. When we own an object, it is ours to do with as we please. With stewardship, we are bound to take good care.

Legislation covering animal welfare certainly recognizes the stewardship of owners, trainers and caretakers. It only covers cases of flagrant abuse though. True stewardship extends far beyond that. It’s both very complicated and very simple. Stewardship demands that you provide for the horse in a manner that keeps him both mentally happy and physically well.

The fact a horse is alive and breathing does not mean he is happy and well. A true horseperson doesn’t need a course in horse psychology or a battery of lab tests and CAT scans to tell if a horse is mentally and physically well. The look in his eye, the way he carries himself, his interest in his surroundings and his work, the health of his coat and feet tell the story.

Stewardship isn’t just about feeding and routine health care, although that is a major part.
It’s also about serving the horse’s needs as well as our own. There are far too many violations of stewardship happening every day, and they’re not all situations that would fall under the umbrella of obvious abuse. Performance or personality altering drugs, bleeding horses or tying them in uncomfortable positions for hours on end before a show to break their spirit, blocking pain to allow a horse with an injury to work and risk injuring himself further, sending a horse that has served faithfully all his life to a killer auction to squeeze those last few hundred dollars out of him are all breaches of stewardship.

The contemporary veterinarian’s oath is a good example of stewardship. It states:

“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.”

Notice there is nothing in there about treating the horse to achieve a set profit margin, or treating the horse to achieve the goals of the owner. Stewardship is a concept that should always be at the forefront. Our horses don’t owe us anything – we owe them.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

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Bone Health in Older Horses

An increased risk of fractures from falls and decreased bone density in general are familiar consequences of aging in people but not as well researched in horses. However, between clinical experience and what can be found in the literature, there is reason for concern.

A 1979 study [Shorafa, Feaster and Ott] looked at bone mineral content, cortex thickness and fracture resistance in the metacarpal (cannon) bone of horses of various ages. They found mineral content and strength peaked between 4 and 7 years old, then progressively declined.

The 2008 study found here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2267174/?tool=pubmed found age-related change in the microarchitecture of bone with decreases in the number of trabeculae (structural tubules) and greater distance between them in older horses. This constitutes osteopenia, which is reduced bone mass although not as severe as osteoporosis.

Another  factor in older horses is higher cortisol levels, which occurs from aging alone but especially in horses with PPID [Cushing’s]. Cortisol disrupts the normal balance between bone formation and bone breakdown, ultimately resulting in bone loss.

We can’t completely prevent the osteopenia of aging but there are possible contributing factors that are within our control. Check yearly for laboratory evidence of PPID with ACTH level in September, or any time PPID is suspected.  If PPID develops, be sure to treat adequately so that ACTH remains in the normal range.

Keep your senior moving! In addition to benefits for joint health and mobility, exercise also helps maintain bone density.

While nutrition can’t cure or prevent osteopenia, improper nutrition can definitely make it worse.  The key nutrients are:

  • High quality protein and key amino acids: Bone is built on a scaffold of protein/collagen, which then becomes calcified. Whey and the amino acids lysine and proline address this.
  • Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium: These are the major minerals in bone. Together with balanced trace minerals zinc, copper and manganese they provide for maintenance of bone.
  • Vitamins C, A and D: Critical for formation of collagen and regulation of bone formation.
  • Boron: Needed for normal bone density
  • Strontium: Assists in maintaining a positive balance between bone synthesis and breakdown
  • Silicon: Helps promote homeostatic mechanisms supporting strength in bone and connective tissue

Healthful activity levels, PPID surveillance and optimized nutrition can go a long way in preserving bone strength in older horses.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

 

 

 

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Is Acorn Toxicity in Horses Real?

Squirrels aren’t the only ones hoovering up the Fall crop of acorns. Horses love them too. A yummy treat courtesy of Mother Nature – or are they harmful?

Many people report their horses regularly indulge in acorns in the Fall with no ill consequences but a small number of horses develop serious, even fatal, illness as a result.

A study from the UK [Smith et al 2015] reports on a series of 9 horses over a 9 year period treated for suspected acorn toxicity.  Five presented with bloody diarrhea and shock, were rapidly euthanized or died. Four had colic and diarrhea. Three of those survived with medical support and the fourth was euthanized.

Post mortem examination of the 6 dead horses showed extensive intestinal and kidney damage. The authors noted toxicity seems to be more of a problem in some years than others, which has also been reported by others. It is unknown if acorns are more toxic certain years or if it is a matter of larger numbers of them being available.

The details of how acorns cause poisoning remain to be determined. Tannic acid is often blamed but in cattle, which are even more sensitive than horses,  dosing with tannic acid does not reproduce the kidney damage. Gallic acid and phenolic compounds are also believed to be involved. The products of bacterial fermentation of acorns in the rumens of cattle and the colon of the horse may be the most active toxins.

The leaves of oak trees are also potentially toxic.  Cattle have been poisoned by consuming oaks leaves in the spring.  There have not been any recognized cases in horses but it’s possible.

Acorns pose another potential danger to horses, ponies, donkeys and mules with Equine Metabolic Syndrome [EMS]. In this condition, there are exaggerated insulin responses to simple sugars and starch which can result in laminitis.  Acorns average over 40% starch which is way too much for an animal with EMS.

There is no specific treatment for acorn poisoning. Activated charcoal can help if administered immediately after the acorns are consumed but signs don’t usually appear for a few days after ingestion and at that point it’s too late for charcoal. Charcoal also can’t protect an EMS horse from acorn induced laminitis since it doesn’t have any effect on starch digestion.

After the horse becomes ill, the only treatment is supportive care such as intravenous fluids. Even with intensive treatment the fatality rate is high, as much as 67%. Not all horses become poisoned on eating acorns but that high death rate should be strong motivation to avoid exposure to acorns and oak trees.

Removing acorns as they fall is a full time job. It’s preferable to remove the trees entirely or fence off areas containing acorns in the fall and trim the trees so that leaves are not accessible.  If storms bring down branches, be sure to remove them promptly.

Acorns from the mighty oak are a boon to many species but not worth the risk with a horse.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

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Mid-Pregnancy Nutrition

When an average size mare delivers she will have produced a 100+ lb foal, an 11 pound placenta, and as much as 16 pounds of fluid. She has also greatly increased the size and thickness of her uterus and blood volume increased about 30% during pregnancy.   The raw materials to build these things didn’t come from thin air.

By the halfway point, the foal is about the size of a Beagle, all organs formed, and rapid growth begins

Providing adequate calories is the easy part. Rapidly dividing cells also have critical needs for amino acids, vitamins and minerals which they must obtain from the placenta. It’s true that the dam will rob her own body tissues if necessary to provide for the fetus (not that this is a very smart management tactic!). It’s also true that the dam cannot provide something she herself does not have. If she starts the pregnancy with low body reserves and her diet is not adequate, the foal will be short-changed and the mare become even more deficient.

Extreme deficiencies result in things like White Muscle Disease and goiter with hypothyroidism in foals. More insidious effects include a higher risk for developmental orthopedic disease like OCD and contractures. Chronic copper deficiency has been linked to uterine artery rupture in mares.

Advice on feeding pregnant mares used to be no special attention to nutrition until the last trimester.  The latest (2007) NRC recommendations begin to allow for increased nutrients in the 5th month but since there are still gaps in the research, there are also gaps in their recommendations. For example, they don’t allow for any increase in zinc or manganese but obviously foals have those essential minerals in their bodies.

Good quality grass hay or pasture should be the bulk of the pregnant mare’s diet. In fact, a hay with 10 to 11% protein and digestible energy (calories) of 0.9 Mcal/lb can meet calorie and protein requirements throughout pregnancy. Even in the last month of pregnancy the  mare would only need to consume a little over 2% of her nonpregnant body weight to meet her needs. For every 1% below 10% in the protein, the mare needs 45 grams of supplemental protein per 10 lbs of hay. For example, if a 9% protein hay and she’s eating 20 lbs, she needs 2 x 45 = 90 grams of supplemental protein. A common range for protein in good quality grass hay is 8 to 12%.

If you don’t know the protein level in your mare’s hay, it’s wise to supplement. “High” (14%) feeds won’t help because they have 2.5 to 3 times more calories than hay but not 2.5 to 3 times more protein so you feed a lot less. Choose a supplement with a blend of vegetable and whey sources, guaranteed levels of lysine and methionine. If you assume 8% protein, a  mare eating 20 lbs/day will need 180 g of protein = 450 g of a 40% protein supplement (1 pound).

You may want to meet part of your extra protein needs with a combination protein and mineral supplement. As a rule of thumb, the pregnant mare will need double her baseline mineral intake at the time of greatest  demand so  look for a supplement with at least 5% calcium and 225 mg copper per 1 lb serving. A pound of it will provide about 112 g of protein if 25% protein.

Do not stop your mare’s  usual mineral supplements when she is pregnant. You still need to have her eating a balanced diet base. The above supplementation is for the additional needs of pregnancy. Compared to what is already invested, this is cheap insurance. A breeding farm client of mine once described foals from mares managed this way as “robust”.  How many 1 week-old foals look like this?

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