CARING FOR YOUR PREGNANT MARE

As long as your mare is having no problems, during the first 7 months of pregnancy, treat your mare as you would a non-pregnant one. She will benefit from moderate riding or exercise.

Her feed should be composed primarily of high-quality forage in approximately the same as pre-pregnancy amounts. Extremes in weather can alter her nutritional requirements and should be taken into account when formulating the ration. She should always have plenty of clean, fresh water. The mare will also benefit from routine hoof and dental care, standard vaccinations, and regular deworming.

Vaccinations should be current, since infectious diseases can trigger abortions. A four-way inoculation for Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis, Influenza, and Tetanus is recommended at the beginning of pregnancy. A booster should be given one month prior to foaling to increase the antibody level in the mare's colostrum. (first milk) and help protect the newborn foal from disease. Also, the mare should be vaccinated for Equine Rhinopneumonitis (commonly called virus abortion or Rhino) at five, seven, and nine months' gestation. Consult with your local veterinarian regarding other vaccines that may be advisable in your area, such as Rabies and Botulism.

Most deworming agents available today are relatively safe for pregnant mares. Consult your veterinarian to establish an effective and safe deworming schedule for your mare. It is especially important to deworm the mare within several weeks of foaling, because the mare will be the primary source for infecting her foal with parasites. Of course, manure should always be properly disposed of.

FEEDING SCHEDULE: During the last four months of pregnancy, the foal will grow rapidly. To accommodate this growth, the mare's energy needs will increase. Even so, special nutritional supplements are probably unnecessary. Good-quality hay and forage should remain the bulk of the expectant mare's diet. Concentrated feeds, such as grains, may be added to the ration to bolster energy intake without adding excess bulk.

Use the mare's body condition as your guide to how she's faring. Adjust the ration accordingly. The mare should not become obese. Your veterinarian can advise you regarding a proper nutritional program for your mare.

Exercise during the last four months of the mare's pregnancy should be light to moderate. In fact, a pastured mare will get as much exercise as she needs just grazing. Vigorous exercise is not recommended.

FOALING DATE APPROACHING: There are obvious as well as subtle signs of impending birth. The time frame during which they occur varies from mare to mare. The most obvious and reliable are:
Filling of the udder (two to four weeks pre-foaling)
Distension of the teats (four to six days pre-foaling)
Waxing of the teats (one to four days pre-foaling)
Obvious dripping of milk

More subtle signs include:
Softening and flattening of the muscles in the croup
Relaxation of the vulva
Visible changes in the position of the foal

Your eleven-month waiting game will be over before you know it. Be prepared ahead of time with the mare already used to the chosen foaling stall or paddock. Have everything you will need already on hand, including emergency Vet number in case she needs assistance. Brush up on foaling information before hand.

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