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Keep resistance breeding mare high before delivery!

Did you know that foals are born practically immune deficient? Only a small part of the required antibodies reach the foal via the placenta before birth. All other antibodies they need to cope with viruses and bacteria come from the mare's colostrum. That is the first milk produced immediately after birth. So that colostrum is incredibly important for the foal! A foal that does not get enough colostrum is very vulnerable and can deteriorate quickly. But not only must the foal drink enough colostrum, the quality of that colostrum is also very essential. The mare can produce good colostrum only when her own immune system is at a good level. And that is where you can help her as an owner.

Vitamins and minerals for resistance broodmare

A growing foal in the womb draws a lot of minerals, vitamins, as well as proteins and amino acids from the mare. This makes sense, as the foal has to make all its bones, muscles, organs and other tissues, and this requires a lot of building materials. The mare has to provide those building materials. Especially in the last three to four months of pregnancy, when the foal is growing rapidly in size, that is quite a lot. The mare has to get all those vitamins and minerals from her diet. Good quality roughage (unpacked hay) is of course important, but in addition you will actually always have to give something extra. There are special balancers for pregnant mares that contain calcium, magnesium, trace elements, amino acids and proteins. Vitamin E is very important for the transfer of antibodies to the foal in the last month of pregnancy. If your mare is not on fresh grass, supplementing with easily absorbable vitamin E is therefore also recommended. Vitamin C can also play a good role as an antioxidant. If your mare is not on grass, or if the grass is still short, you can offer rose hip as part of a mineral buffet. This is tasty and contains a lot of vitamin C. Read here more about Rosehip.

Smooth delivery

It has long been known from scientific research that the mare's vitamin and mineral status affects delivery. A mare that has had the right nutrition in the months before the foal is born is more likely to have a smooth delivery. Both vitamin E and certain minerals (calcium, magnesium) directly affect labour. When your mare gets enough vitamin E, she is more likely to have a smooth delivery. When vitamins and minerals are in order in the diet, the mare is less likely to 'stick to the placenta', for example. This is a nasty complication that requires the vet. He will then administer an induction of labour or carefully remove the placenta using water. It is important that the entire placenta comes out of your mare; if any parts remain, they can become infected and even cause the mare's death! Therefore, always temperature your mare in the first days after delivery. Incidentally, not only vitamins and minerals affect this. Research on Friesian mares has shown that the degree of inbreeding of the foal also has a great influence on standing at the afterbirth. The less inbreeding, the lower the chance of this happening. Read here more about vitamin E

Best start

A healthy mare with a good immune system will also give good colostrum to her foal. Vets nowadays often do a test for antibodies in foals a day after birth, to check if the colostrum has done its job. If it hasn't, you can then do something about it with artificial colostrum. For example, if the mare lost a lot of milk from the udder in the days preceding the birth, the foal may not have ingested enough colostrum. It is therefore wise to check this.

Suckling period

Even while the foal is suckling, it is important to give your mare enough minerals and vitamins. Because through the milk she still provides your foal with the building materials during the first months. And that little one needs a lot of nutrition to build a healthy skeleton and grow. Besides magnesium and vitamin E, we therefore also recommend giving the mare easily absorbable silicon. This helps repair her connective tissue and ligaments, as it stimulates collagen production. But it is also crucial - via the milk - for building cartilage, tendons, joints, muscles and ligaments in the foal. In some cases, besides liquid silicon, trace elements and minerals from Bering Sea water can also make a good contribution. If your mare gets hay from poor soils, for example. Read more about silicon as a building material here.   Sources: Mitsuo Ishii etal. 2002. Effects of vitamin E and selenium administration on pregnant, heavy draft mares on placental retention time and reproductive performance and on white muscle disease in their foals. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Volume 22, Issue 5, May 2002, Pages 213-220. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0737080602700361 Sevinga, M.; Barkema, H. W.; Hesselink, J. W. Retained placenta in Friesian mares: incidence, risk factors, therapy, and consequences. Pferdeheilkunde, 2001, 17.6: 619-622. Mohd Mutalip SS, Ab-Rahim S, Rajikin MH. Vitamin E as an Antioxidant in Female Reproductive Health. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018;7(2):22. Published 2018 Jan 26. doi:10.3390/antiox7020022 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836012/  

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