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How to Improve a Mare’s Milk

How to Improve a Mare’s Milk
5 July 2017 | Foran Equine

 

It seems a long time ago since the mares were covered last year but now suddenly there is a foal bouncing around the stable.

Having given the mare, the best possible care during her pregnancy you now have to improve a mare’s milk so the foal gets the best start in life.

Foals are dependent almost entirely on the mare’s milk for the first month and it is still the main part of the diet until the foal hits five or six months. There is an abundance of research to prove that the quality of the milk sets the foundations for a long and sound athletic career for the foal. Whether your goal is the racetrack, the Olympics or the sales a sound horse is absolutely essential for success.

Increase Calcium Intake

We are all accustomed to the adverts for the role of calcium in developing “strong bones” in humans. Calcium is particularly well documented as a fundamental building block for strong bones and joints in horses too and plays a key role in muscle development. Calcium works with phosphorus and the two must be in the correct ratio, Ca:P 2:1 for healthy growth.

Each mare is an individual but many need some help to produce the perfect pint. Restricted grass and early foaling dates mean that the minerals available from grass are not always optimum. Even with excellent grass, hay and feed some mares are just poor milkers and may need a little outside assistance to boost the quality of milk being produced. Mares that are in very good body condition may not need the calories required by feeding large quantities and so supplementing the vitamins, minerals and amino acids is important.

Oats have gotten somewhat of a bad reputation in recent years and probably undeserved so in many situations. However, mares that are fed an oat based diet do need particular attention with regard to calcium intake as oats are very low in calcium.

Supplements for Lactating Mares

Cal-Gro is a supplement that will provide the perfect ratio of calcium and phosphorus in the diet, as well as other nutrients that are needed for healthy development. 150g per day added to the feed of lactating mares will ensure that the mare has adequate reserves of minerals such as manganese, copper, magnesium and zinc which are required for the development of cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

Amino acids are the “ingredients” for protein. As with any recipe, it is important to get the quantity of each ingredient right or the end result will fail. Lysine is described as an essential amino acid, this means that the horse cannot make it in the body and is entirely dependent on it being in the diet. Lysine is present in mare’s milk for the foal to use but it must be in the mare’s diet for her to be able to pass it on in her milk. Cal-Gro contains both lysine and another essential amino acid methionine.

Providing your mare with the nutrients to provide an excellent start for her foal will improve the chances of avoiding problems such as OCD as the foal matures. Once the foal is weaned Cal-Gro can be added to the weanling diet and continued until the two year old stage to optimise growth and build on the good foundations that you have set.

If you’re looking for any advice on how to improve a mare’s milk, why not get in touch with one of our equine nutrition experts.