Management of pregnant mares 

Pregnant mare management should now be underway but here are some reminders on what to think about in the lead-up to foaling.

Rapid growth of the foetus takes place in the last three months of pregnancy and the mare's nutritional intake should be adjusted accordingly. Energy and protein requirements increase as well as the requirements for vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

For this reason pregnant mares will benefit from supplementation with a product designed for their requirements such as mare balancer nuts. Selenium plays a role in fertility and should also be supplemented in known deficient mares. Body condition of the pregnant mare is also important and should be assessed. Mares should be in good condition at foaling so they can meet the high demands of early lactation. This is especially important if the mare is to be rebred following foaling. Good parasite control and good dental care as well as supplying the correct nutrients will help to ensure this.

Booster vaccinations for tetanus, strangles and preferably salmonella should be administered 4-6 weeks before foaling. Equine Herpes Virus 1 (EHV1) can cause abortion storms in unvaccinated mares. For this reason we recommend that pregnant mares be also vaccinated against EHV1. Maiden mares or those not previously vaccinated should be vaccinated in the 3rd, 4th and 6th or 4th, 5th and 7th months of pregnancy. If the mare has had a primary course such as this, then only a yearly booster is required. The best time for this booster can vary so please discuss timing with Totally Vets.

Getting the mare's vaccinations up-to-date should ensure that the newborn foal receives colostrum which is high in antibodies against these diseases. At vaccination time, the mare can be examined to see if a caslick has been performed and if so, this can be opened.

Deworming the mare with a broad-spectrum drench in the last month of pregnancy will also reduce the exposure of the newborn to parasites (see your vet for the best option - not all drenches are equal!). The importance of the pregnant mare's feet cannot be underestimated. A mare in foal with neglected feet is susceptible to a wide range of foot conditions including laminitis and foot abscesses. Please keep in regular contact with your farrier for continued regular hoof trimming and care.

It is advisable to introduce the mare to the foaling environment some time before foaling to minimise stress close to the time and to allow her to acclimatise. This will also expose the mare to any pathogens present in this new environment and give her time to build up antibodies. These antibodies will be passed on to the newborn via the colostrum and provide the foal with some degree of protection. 

If you have any queries regarding the management of your mare in the run-up to foaling please contact us at Totally Vets.