Science & Equine

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Written by Marly Coppens
Posted in Mare management

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Body condition of broodmares and the effect on reproduction

Mare fertility depends on nutrition, but is also influenced by factors such as age, parity, hormone metabolism, disease, trauma, and genetics. A balanced broodmare diet will decrease the risk of retardation of the fetus, which can cause altered development and may influence the horse during fetal, neonatal or even adult life performance.

An evaluative method of the nutritional needs of a broodmare is the “Body Condition Score” (BCS). It assesses the overall and regional adiposity, named “cresty neck scoring”. Research acknowledge that low BCS in broodmares effects their reproductive efficiency. Mares in BCS 4 have a delayed first ovulation of 3 to 4 weeks compared to mares in BCS 5, indicating mares should be kept in BCS 5 or higher. BCS should be combined with body weight when evaluating the feeding management. The current National Research Council recommends a 12%–15% weight gain in pregnant mares.

In equines the incidence of obesity and related metabolic disorders has increased the same way as in humans. Obesity might cause abnormal reproductive performance in the mare, like an unusually long estrous cycle or in obese young mares placental restriction and lowered birth weights. In late pregnancy it may increase the risk of developmental orthopedic disease.

Balanced feed is available in many varieties for the broodmare, however it is important to feed the right supplements, since inappropriate use could have permanent effects on the fetus. Read the full-text to get to know more about: the estrous cycle, influence of breed, malnutrition and fertility and insulin resistance.

>S.A. Morley et al., Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 34 (2014) 842–853. All rights reserved to: 2014 Elsevier Inc. Click here for the J-EVS summary

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