I have a AQHA/APHA breeding farm in Belmont, Ohio. We had a very unusual wet/warm winter and a very wet late winter. Which didn't seem to affect the broodmares...they are fat! Some overly fat and even thyroid looking, so my business partner (On some of the broodmares) and I have been having a little disagreement. She would like to feed grain to make sure the fetuses get enough and then I am concerned the mares are borderline obese and some are maiden mares and may have problems foaling. I did have one of my maiden mares foal, nice tall grulla stud colt, but I admit he is a bit on the skinny side, but I know foals are a bit ribby when they arrive. Again, it is her opinion that it is because I don't grain. What is confusing to me is why are the mares (they look like over finished market steers) so fat off of good forage and then having skinny foals and take longer to come into their milk, and why isn't that extra fat the broodmares have going to the fetus....so if I did grain, how would I know it is going to the fetus and not adding weight to the already fat broodmares? They have a couple trace mineral blocks, are they lacking in some sort of mineral or vitamins and how can I give them it without the mares gaining excess weight?
Type of Animal: Equine
Name of Horse: Broodmares
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It is likely that your mare's are being fed adequately without the grain. Grain's add carbohydrates the body, evolutionarily, when horses roamed the plains, they did not have access to high carbohydrate concentrated rations and were maintained on grass hay. I would not recommend giving grain to the mares to increase the foal weights. The grain energy will be distributed to the mare as well as the foal. It may also result in faster growing foals in utero - this will lead to increased problems with crooked legs and contracted tendons.
Without seeing the mare's and foals, I cannot give an opinion on your particular mare's regarding their exact weight but in general, foal's usually come out fairly gaunt and ribby and quickly catch up off the mare's milk. If your mare's are having problems coming into milk, it may be possible that your mare could have some hormonal imbalances. Given the area you are located and the type of winter, there is a possibility that your mares are being affected by something environmental. I would recommend having a veterinarian out to examine the broodmare herd and ensure that everything looks ok first hand rather than pouring money into grain when that might not be the problem.
Hope this helps. All the best