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Suggestions for feeding nursing mares

I’m curious what people are typically supplementing their nursing mares with. My Friesian mare foaled her half Arab colt about 9 days ago and she’s been fantastic and producing a lot of milk. But he’s also growing like a weed and nursing a lot. Right now she’s getting alfalfa hay and forage (oat, barley, wheat) hay and about a cup and a half of senior feed as a carrier for her vitamin E and platinum performance. She was a little heavy, about a 6, before she foaled. The vet was happy with her weight and with what she was being fed at that point. She’s already dropped her baby weight and maybe a little bit extra. She’s definitely not skinny, but I’d rather she not get that way before trying to correct it. I’ve upped her hay, particularly her alfalfa, but I’m coming to the end of the bag of senior, everyone gets it in small quantities to make vitamins more palatable, so it seemed like a good time to ask what would be better to get to support mom and ok for baby to steal a little bit. I’m not planning on feeding baby large amounts of grain or complete feeds, but he is already trying everything mom gets.

There are growth feeds specifically for this situation.

If she’s an easier keeper, a ration balancer fed at the correct amount for broodmares and young stock may work fine once she’s at a good weight.

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Thanks! I know that there are a number of feeds marketed for this situation, I just wasn’t sure if some were better than others. I know with senior feeds there are a bunch available but some are considered awful despite the marketing.

You could always plug in what you’re currently feeding to a ration analysis program and see if it meets her needs.
If it doesn’t, you’ll know what is deficient and needs to be increased.
Generally, feeds like a “senior” feed fed in smallish quantities aren’t as helpful in balancing a diet as a specifically formulated ration balancer or a bagged feed fed at recommended levels.


At least a ration balancer, as the current diet isn’t sufficient for her nutrition to provide the foal his nutrition. That ideally would have been done in the last trimester, and forward

If she still needs calories, then a lower (at least < 20%) NSC growth OR senior feed.

Raise her bucket so the foal can eat as little as possible. If he’s just insistent, then get a foal feed, which is milk-based, like ProElite Foals First Starter and Creep, and give him his own feeder. He can stay on that until he’s 4 months, then transition him to a ration balancer, fed according to his age and weight (which is going to be a higher amount than an adult would eat).


They do make mare/ foal feeds which is what I chose to feed during late pregnancy-weaning ( Purina) . None of my mares were hard keepers and I fed alfalfa mix hay . The foal can really pull them down and it can happen quickly so it is best to get it sorted out now like you are doing.

So many choices today can make it difficult to know what to do.

Much appreciated. Usually she’s a very easy keeper and she’s not skinny yet, I just noticed her dropping some weight already and figured it was easier to get a handle on now rather than trying to add weight later. She’s definitely enjoying the extra alfalfa, broodmare feed, and ration balancer. She’s also getting in shape trying to keep up with baby.

Once you get the idea of the basics, it’s really very simple. If they need significant calories beyond what their forage provides, then choose a good lower NSC (like 20% or less, ideally) growth, mare&foal, or senior feed. If they’re air ferns, it’s a ration balancer. Feed according to their weight, and their stage of pregnancy (late term is when nutrient needs go up) or nursing (first 2 months have the most nutrient need).

In between horses can go with a ration balancer at 2-3lb (average horse), plus a couple of pounds of alfalfa pellets, if the 6-8lb as a min feeding rate is just too many calories

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Because everyone on here was so insistent, i started feeding a pound and a half of each of these right after my two mares foaled. Now that they’re older (7-8 wks) Foals do poke in there and eat. They get about 50 pounds of alfalfa and rich pasture.

Though a few days ago i took some photos and decided both mares were FAT!

So i started cutting down on the Alfa Essentials and alfalfa hay as this new pasture they’re in has a lot of legume (clover and birdsfoot trefoil and korean lespediza)